Employee Management

In addition to changing supply chains, customer bases and customer behaviour, in the long term it’s highly likely that the Covid-19 pandemic will result in changes to the way organisations treat and manage their employees and how employees behave.

Some of these potential changes are obvious. For example:

  • Many employees have successfully worked from home for the first time, and businesses may now take this opportunity to allow more staff to work remotely, even if it’s only for part of the week
  • The way training is delivered will need to change immediately due to social distancing. However, this may result in a shift in the way training is provided in the long term, with more virtual courses undertaken
  • The way meetings are conducted will change, with many face-to-face meetings being replaced by video conference calls

The pandemic, the fear it has caused and the heightened awareness of risk will also possibly alter employees’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. For those employees who have been shielded and stayed within their homes for a lengthy period of time, fear levels would have been further increased.

Employers need to consider the effects these changes will have on the workplace.

As workers become more risk averse, or at least more conscious of risks in the workplace, they may be less likely to undertake unsafe activities that they would have previously …..the ‘get the job done at any cost’ attitude may disappear in some environments.

This creates an opportunity for employers to enhance the safety culture. Potentially more employees will be willing to be engaged in your safety programme, resulting in fewer accidents, greater staff involvement with safety checks and inspections, and more compliance and desire to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), whereas in the past there may have been a reluctance to wear it.

However, employers also need to be aware of other potential changes in behaviour and attitude that could occur:

  • With a more risk adverse workforce, sickness and absence rates may potentially increase, especially in the short term as staff look to protect themselves and others
  • Some staff may be reluctant to interact with others, therefore causing issues around the productivity, teamwork and all-round functionality of an organisation
  • Workers may feel inclined to clean down any work equipment they are using before use, which may cause delays when starting up and shutting down

As with all change, there are risks and opportunities. Successful businesses will be already considering what changes need to be made to their workplace, undertaking risk assessments and communicating with staff to provide assurances that staff will be returning to a safe environment.