With the Christmas season over and employees across the nation stepping back into the workplace, the new year can bring workplace evolution, new focuses, and plenty of changes.
From a new-year refresh on protocols to a wave of eager new team members beginning to join the team, this time of year is ideal for employers to refresh their understanding of any potential hazards and ensure that employee well-being is safeguarded.
John Johnston, head of e-commerce at Workwear Express, has outlined practical advice for employers on factors to consider for managing employee well-being in January.
Update your workplace risk assessment
“As the new year often brings new business changes, new employees, and an ever-changing working environment, an updated risk assessment can be vital for understanding and managing the potential impact of these changes on the overall risk profile of the business.
“Regular risk assessments can help businesses remain aligned with these changes and adjust their strategies accordingly to help minimise the risks of workplace accidents.”
Refresh employees on health and safety procedures
“Following the Christmas break, there may have been changes in the workplace environment, such as rearranged work spaces, new equipment, and updated safety procedures.
“Even if no immediate changes have been made, a prolonged break from work and post-Christmas fatigue can sometimes lead to a lapse in attention to health and safety procedures and protocols.
“Refreshing employees on workplace health and safety will help to realign their focus back to workplace safety, aiding employees in being more mindful of minimising risks and hazards.”
Conduct an inventory check
“Regardless of the sector you operate within, the new year is the ideal time to conduct an inventory check, whether it be staff equipment, uniforms, machinery, or PPE, to ensure that stock levels and functionality are all up to scratch for the year ahead. Check these factors in line with current staffing and productivity levels to ensure demand can be met.
“Key benefits include ensuring safety standards are adhered to, effectively managing assets and finances, preventing losses, and helping to improve overall efficiency from an operational perspective.”
Remind employees of goals, objectives and priorities
“It can certainly be hard to get back into work mode following an extended break. This is why it is often useful to begin the new working year by clearly highlighting and reminding employees about key goals and priorities that should be worked towards.”
Offer refresher training to all employees
“The new year is an ideal time for employees to brush up on their skills or even consider learning new ones. To ensure that employee practices are up to an adequate standard, provide your staff with the option to undergo refresher training.
“Regular practice and reinforcement are essential to ensuring that employees retain and effectively use the skills and knowledge that have been cultivated in the workplace.
“Offering refresher training demonstrates that an organisation values continuous learning and development. By doing so, this can have a positive effect on improving employee morale, teamwork, and job satisfaction, resulting in a much more motivated workforce for the new year.”
Provide open communication around employee well-being
“It is no secret that January can be a challenging time for the well-being of many. From fatigue from the previous year, January blues, and post-Christmas financial pressures, this time of year can have a negative impact on the well-being of employees.
“In the new year, it is essential to reassure employees that the workplace facilitates open dialogue and communication regarding employee well-being and mental health.
“Create a reassuring and supportive environment that encourages employees to be open about any issues that they may be having. A happy workforce leads to increased morale and, ultimately, increased productivity.”
Factors to consider for new employees
“The new year is a key recruitment time across many industries. Although new employees bring new talent, energy, and vibrancy to the workplace, it certainly brings an increased risk.
“From unfamiliarity with the environment to a lack of knowledge around core workplace safety procedures, there’s plenty that employers must consider if onboarding an influx of new starters in the new year.
Have a clear induction plan in place
“Having a clear plan of action for onboarding new starters is essential for minimising workplace risks. Provide new starters with a clearly outlined employee handbook, run through health and safety procedures, and provide a guided tour of the workplace, highlighting any significant risks and hazards.
“Provide clear guidance on objectives and procedures, as well as ensuring any queries new starters have are adequately addressed with clear answers.
Implement a buddy-up system
“A buddy-up system is an ideal method for directly introducing new team members and other employees and enables them to provide one-to-one advice, support, and general guidance. Buddy systems are also a great way to create a sense of team morale and belonging among team members.”