The importance of being a responsible employer in a post-Covid age

The importance of being a responsible employer in a post-Covid age

Is your entire team working from home? HR has never been more important

 

What would managers across the UK have thought this time last year if they were presented with the scenario of their entire team working from home?

A number of concerns would have sprung to mind.

Are staff being as productive as they would be in the office? How will I get everyone together for meetings? How do I know folk aren’t watching Netflix when they should be analysing spreadsheets?

Some of these fears will have been allayed with improved use of IT systems and the growth of Zoom, while others – for some – may remain.

 

Your duty to staff

 

What might not have crossed employers’ minds is their duty to staff.

Just because someone is working at home doesn’t mean they can be forgotten about from a duty-of-care point of view.

In some respects, human resources have never been more important.

 

Mental health

 

In pre-coronavirus days, it was relatively straightforward to keep an eye on your staff’s welfare, by virtue of them being in your presence for much of the day.

Signs of stress, unhappiness and even personal problems wouldn’t always be detectable, but at least you’d have the chance to see your workers in the flesh.

But now thousands of managers won’t have physically met with their colleagues for months, and that can make it easy to miss signs of anxiety and discontent.

It’s essential you put in place ways in which you can check on your staff, and provide ways for them to communicate with you and each other.

Blurring the lines between home and the office – as Covid has undoubtedly done – can also bring added strains.

Even being away from colleagues and friends can have a negative impact on some people.

Always have an emergency point of contact in your organisation that vulnerable workers can reach out to.

And of course, keep in mind that a happy worker is far more valuable to you than one who feels isolated and neglected.

 

Physical health

 

In the office, it’s taken as read that staff will have a comfortable chair, a screen that doesn’t hurt their eyes, and a generally safe environment in which to operate.

If you now have people working at home, those same responsibilities still apply. You should make efforts to regularly check that your team have secure and pleasant surroundings in which to work.

 

Will this last forever?

 

The pros and cons of home-working from the perspective of staff have been well rehearsed. But there are benefits to consider in the long-term for businesses too. Covid restrictions won’t last forever, but perhaps some of the changes it has enforced will do. Now would be a good time to start thinking about a blend of home and office working, and how you – as an employer – could use it to everyone’s advantage.

 

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