This blog is part of a series describing the HR Hierarchy of Needs, a framework that describes how an organization should approach both its business and employees during a time of need. Read more about the overview here.
Workplace safety is a key component of the office experience, especially as workers are protected by federal laws that include mandates covering the placement of hazardous materials and the storage of items. These protections have only gained more importance during the COVID-19 pandemic as organizational leaders navigate how to keep their workforces productive and safe.
During a major crisis, the safety of employees is the utmost priority and HR must deliver clear guidance on how leaders and the workforce must behave – or face the consequences of greater danger that also includes the loss of customers, attrition of staff, or suspension of business.
Here’s how to address safety for employees and for the business.
What Safety Means for Employees
People are the most important asset for any business. During COVID-19, these priorities are amplified. While office workers could easily work from home, essential businesses found themselves in different situations where they needed to develop best practices to ensure the safety of both their customers and their staff.
Here are some of the questions we recommend asking as you evaluate your employees’ safety:
- Are our people safe? Safety matters, whether a workforce is required to be on-site or asked to work from home. During times of danger and uncertainty, the work of leaders extends beyond day-to-day work duties and includes checking in on whether their reports are in the right emotional state. For companies that require workforces to be on site and engaging with others, leaders must also ensure the availability of cleaning supplies and protective equipment.
- Do our people feel safe? It’s one thing to be safe, but another to feel it in times of uncertainty. Make sure to develop customer and employee facing guidelines for your office or establishment. During COVID-19, that means developing rules that include face masks and usage of hand sanitizer—so everyone knows they are coming into a hygienic facility. If employees remain fearful, elect to send them home and welcome them back when they feel it is safe enough to return.
- Do we have the right well-being content and programs in place? Maintaining employee morale is a challenge during these times and can weigh on performance. If you don’t have them already, make sure to implement content and programs that help guide your workers through this time. These can include self-paced courses that help manage stress or promote relaxation as well as tools to connect them to other employees with common interests and goals to ensure continued engagement and commitment.
- Are you providing your employees with the right guidance as they return to a new function, objective or even facility? Processes change and ensuring that the employee understands those changes will reduce stress levels and demonstrate the respect and commitment the organization has for the employee and their time.
What Safety Means for the Business
If organizational leaders are able to safely send their workforces home or provide the right equipment, there are additional steps they must take to protect the business. Often, the right policies, information, and next steps are developed long before a danger occurs. Nonetheless, the following are some of the questions we recommend leaders asking as they evaluate their business’ safety:
- Do we have the right data, information, and policies to keep employees safe at work? Are these policies listed out in the employee handbook? Can the workforce find the information easily online or posted at the office?
- Do we have the systems in place to ensure both physical and psychological safety? Dangerous situations are traumatizing to human beings, and leaders must take note. Whether it’s having counselors available to speak to during a tough time or a regular town hall to keep employees up to speed, anything that places the workforce in a better state of being is helpful.
Employee safety remains paramount as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Oracle is committed to helping our customers during this time by providing resources that keep the workplace safe. Check out the following links below:
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