Whether employees are returning to the workplace now, after Labor Day, or even later in the year, it’s important to spend some time thinking about their re-entry to the workplace. For some employees, they’ve been away from the office for three months or longer. Not only has the employee had to develop some new habits to be productive working from home but the organization has created some new policies and procedures to keep everyone safe.
One of the ways organizations can welcome employees back and give them a quick update on the new policies and procedures they will need to know is via a welcome letter. It can be in written form or on video. Maybe even a little of both. Here are a few things it might be good to cover.
- Welcome employees back to the workplace. This could be the perfect time to have the company’s CEO record a video welcoming employees back and talking about the re-entry process. It’s possible that employees will arrive in phases based on their role in the organization and it might be good to share that with everyone.
- Talk about employee safety. Many employers are requesting that employees wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Some organizations are conducting temperature checks. It’s important to share this information with employees before they arrive. And if they’re not feeling well, employees should stay home.
- Discuss social distancing in the workplace. Depending on your office layout, it’s possible that employees will have to distance in the work environment. They should know that ahead of time. Same thing if employees will be asked to travel in one-direction around the office (you know, like we’re doing at the grocery store.)
- Share the breakroom situation. Many offices have created employee breakrooms that are the envy of coffee shops and lounges worldwide. If the rules are going to change regarding free beverages and snacks, employees need to know. Same with the rules for the community refrigerator.
- Offer a training session. In addition to the things I’ve mentioned in #1-4, organizations might have new rules regarding customer interactions. It could make some sense to develop microlearning sessions to cover those new operational guidelines. Employees can view them prior to their first day back at the worksite.
- Explain the consequences of non-compliance. These new rules were not created for the fun of it. In many cases, they’re being mandated by state and/or local government. Employees should be told in advance what happens if they are not compliant with the regulations. This isn’t designed to be confrontational. It is to make sure that everyone – employees and customers – stay safe.
- Tell employees where to direct concerns. It’s possible that situations will arise that no one expected. Government agencies are changing their guidance based on any new information that they receive. Employees should feel comfortable asking questions (and getting answers). Let them know the process.
In fact, as I’m putting this list together, this type of letter might be great for employees returning from parental leave or sabbatical. The intent of the letter is the same: to welcome employees back to the office and to give them an update on what’s changed during their time away.
This is an opportunity for organizations to let employees know that their safety is a top priority. And that they’ve put some planning into the process of people returning to the office environment. A recent poll from Citrix said that 64% of workers aren’t comfortable returning to the office for at least another month or more. A well-thought out plan for employee safety could help to alleviate some of those concerns.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the Flora Icelandic HR Management Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland15