21 Aug Returning to Work Post COVID-19: Dealing with Tension and Violence
While businesses begin opening back up, one step at a time and others remain shut, workers may experience some frustration and tension, due to new ways of working which were not in place before COVID-19. Health and safety regulations, beyond what is typically expected in any industry, should already be in place as employees are brought back into the workplace.
Some employees may not be able to return just yet because they are in a vulnerable category for susceptibility to acquiring COVID-19. The burden of meeting production falls to those who do return, who must take up the slack to meet daily goals.
The reality is that no one knows what to expect as most people have never been through a situation like this. Adding on to the fear of catching COVID-19 is the knowledge that there is no medically determined solution at this time to prevent acquiring the virus. Using preventive measures like wearing masks (when possible) and gloves, along with social distancing on the factory floor are the best possible solutions.
What Employees Should Know When Returning to Work
Employees should know what to expect on the first day that they return to work. Postings should be tacked up everywhere showing what guidelines must be followed while working with others close by. Employees must also know whether the employer has set aside an area where everyone must be tested for infection first before stepping into the building. This information can be sent by email, regular mail, phone call, or text message in advance of returning to work.
A rotation cleaning schedule should also be in place for all parts of the facility and who will be responsible for certain areas, such as restrooms, cafeterias, lounges, and more. It is important that no one person should be assigned more often than others to help with cleaning duties. Managers and even the boss can also help with the cleaning duties.
Employees may be working under stress because of recent COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, the news of protests and violent rioting events, as well as financial situations at home due to being out of work. It is understandable that employees may carry resentments over to the workplace which can lead to occasional arguments and altercations.
Dealing with a Tense Environment
Sensitivity to another’s issues may be one of the most important ways to calm a person down. When someone is willing to listen and, thereby, offering emotional support, a distraught worker can vent feelings without repercussions and eventually calm down. It is important for managers to connect with employees more as people and to show empathy, rather than enforcing that the goal for today must be met.
Avoid criticism if employees are being difficult for whatever reason. In most cases, issues can be sorted out and tensions reduced when patience and a listening ear are provided.
Have a slotted box set aside after one week back at work where employees can leave anonymous notes about how to better improve a work situation. This will be especially important if unsafe conditions occur. Everyone must remember that all businesses are in an experimental stage to see what methods work and what does not.
It may also help to have a psychologist or therapist on hand during the early days as employees and employers work out the issues, whether they pertain to workplace problems or home-based problems. Everyone should feel free to speak up, make suggestions, offer help, all towards promoting a positive environment at work.
Provide everything that employees could possibly need when first returning to work, will promote a healthy and welcoming environment that makes coming to work enjoyable, despite outside distractions.
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