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As plans for easing lockdown are released across the four nations of the UK, employers and employees are looking at how to manage a safe return to work while the threat of coronavirus and social distancing measures remain.
The British Psychological Society has published advice on how to engage with staff to manage the practicalities and the fears around this process safely. Although time frames in the four UK nations differ, all businesses need to consider how to reassure their staff, who will have natural anxieties.
People have been experiencing lockdown in different ways, with some employees continuing to travel to work, some working from home, and others being furloughed or made redundant.
Employers will need to take into account the different circumstances of their staff as they return to work, and engage with them on what has changed while developing a transition strategy.
The BPS advice suggests that listening to, and engaging with, employees can allow them to help shape the ‘new normal’ at work. It will also make sure that people’s worries about safety, infection control and personal circumstances are taken into account.
It is also likely that elements of the employment relationship will have changed, and it’s important to have an open discussion about job roles, responsibilities, work location and shift patterns.
Janet Fraser, chair of the BPS’s COVID-19 Working Differently Group that produced the statement, said: ‘As early plans for the easing of lockdowns are released, organisations will need to think about how we can safely return to workplaces that will need to be very different to the ones we left behind when lockdown began.
‘Employees are likely to have concerns not just around their safety, but also how roles and jobs may have changed, and it is vital that employers open a two-way dialogue to address these.’
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