As Aycliffe businesses return to work after the Covid 19 induced lockdown employees will need assurances that their workplace is safe. Understandably, anxiety levels will be high in many people who are being asked to return to work when so many people have died from an invisible virus.

This puts the responsibility on employers to reassure their employees that their safety and wellbeing is at the top of the agenda.

I have been fortunate to have worked with a number of employers on Aycliffe Business Park as a HR consultant for many years. As you start to recommence work after the lockdown I am sure your first priority is to manage a safe return to work for your employees.

We all know that people are the lifeblood of any business and without their cooperation in these unprecedented times it will be difficult for businesses to get back on their feet.

So what do you have to do?

One of the first things you will need to do is to conduct a Covid 19 risk assessment. Many of the control measures you need to consider will be identified by this means. This should help you to identify what you need to do to create a safe working environment for your employees in these difficult times.

The Government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid19 outlines five steps to safer working:

• Carry out a Covid 19 risk assessment and share the results with your workers

• Comply with the cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance

• Identify and assist people who can work from home

• Take all reasonable steps to maintain a 2 metre distance in the workplace

• Manage transmission risks where a 2 metre distance cannot be maintained

Workplace design, work processes, clear signage, information and guidance, cleanliness and social distancing will undoubtedly be issues you will need to consider as part of your assessment.

If you manage the people issues of your business well, and involve your employees in your decision making, you stand a good chance of convincing them that it is safe for them to return to work.

To ensure all workers understand COVID-19 related safety procedures you will need to explain what you intend to do to keep them safe and listen to their concerns.

At first people will forget and will need to be reminded of the new ways of working. Be patient and tolerant because, for some, this will not be easy. Old habits die hard and people will need time to adjust. With understanding comes acceptance but it may take a while for these new behaviours to become second nature.

Good HR management has never been more important than it is now. Employees are looking for leadership and employers need to get all of their employees on board as soon as possible .Their return to work will be made much easier if you can show them that you take their health and safety seriously. Following the above steps will go a long way to achieving this.