At around 4,160,000 tragic fatalities, the Covid-19 pandemic is leaving untold misery all over the world. Since early 2020, almost every business and citizen across dozens of countries were forced into government-imposed lockdown.
Restrictions have meant that companies have shuttered and employees have been let go.
Some governments, such as the UK and US, have helped where they can, but it hasn’t been enough to combat extended lockdowns for some sectors. Extended lockdowns have essentially forced some businesses into bankruptcy – with service and hospitality being the worst affected.
In the UK alone, 660,000 hospitality staff are currently without jobs, and the figure is rising. Despite restrictions being lifted, the long period has been too long for some.
However, many businesses have been lucky enough to survive the pandemic by offering work-from-home schemes or finding alternative ways to do business, such as shifting services online.
Keep as Many Employees as You Possibly Can
While it isn’t easy to retain employees during a pandemic, you can try to keep as many as possible. Understandably, this is easier said than done, but there are some techniques to doing this.
For example, you could offer reduced hours or reduced pay while employees cannot come into the office. This will directly impact your employees, but they can claim benefits because of this. Payment of this kind is a necessary compromise between your company and its staff.
However, should you wish to keep employees on board and pay them their usual salary, you can claim help as well.
The US federal government has introduced the Employee Retention Program (https://tri-merit.com/erc/) to reimburse you for any lost money.
However, there are specific criteria that must be met:
- Significantly reduced income during 2020 and 2021.
- Ordered by state or government to suspend activity.
The United Kingdom has introduced a similar program that allows businesses to apply for loans, tax relief, and cash grants.
These can be used by businesses and the self-employed. In addition, there are various non-government organizations, charities, and bodies that offer business support.
Provide Alternative Work Opportunities
Restriction and lockdown policies had a significant impact on most business operations. Legal requirements all but banned people from turning up at the office, site, or establishment to check in for work.
In addition, anything considered non-essential was closed. Essential services include emergency personnel, food store staff, and anything medical-related.
What followed was an economic freefall owing primarily in part to non-existent retail, leisure, and tourism. And while many of these industries suffered, some found alternative methods of work. You can adopt a similar policy.
Wherever possible, you can invoke work from home procedures.
This can be complex or easy, depending on the services you offer. For example, suppose you deal with confidential client information, then developing a secure infrastructure is necessary.
To do this, you can implement the following:
- Provide safe and encrypted devices for work only.
- Regularly update network login credentials.
- Install VPN software on work devices.
- Purchase the best antimalware you can afford.
- Educate employees on how to securely use devices at home.
Working from home has become a significant part of dealing with the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.
As a result, although regulations are lifted in many countries, some companies still allow employees to work from home as nations slowly begin to get back to normal.
However, the threat of Covid is still here – especially with the Delta Variant, and employers and employees alike aren’t too keen to return to a full office just yet.
So, it’s essential that you provide ample alternatives that don’t compromise the safety and rights of employees.
Encourage Following Government Advice
Many workplaces have reopened almost to full capacity. This is because vaccination programs are being deployed across many countries like the USA, the UK, and Israel. But the threat of infection still lurks.
The recent Delta Variant is four times more contagious than standard Covid. It is easily contracted by people who have yet to receive a follow-up vaccine injection.
Therefore, until it is verified that the Delta Variant has been all but eradicated, you should inform employees of any government advice still conveyed. For example, restrictions are lifted in many states and nations, but most governments advise that we don’t become complacent.
There is still the threat of infection from the unvaccinated and the Delta Variant.
Controversially, some nations and private companies introduced “Covid Passports” recently. Airlines such as Delta and United encourage people to provide vaccination status. Countries such as Greece, Italy, and Iceland ask for proof of complete vaccination before entry to their land is granted.
The UK also joined the debacle earlier this week. The conservative government has announced plans for a domestic Covid passport for proof of complete vaccination.
The document will be required to enter crowded events such as football games, nightclub venues, and concerts – but it would be wise to watch this space as it extends to other services and possibly the workplace.
Maintain a Safe Work Environment
Additionally, you can safeguard all your employees by maintaining a safe environment for everyone. For example, companies like Walmart have widely dropped their mask-wearing requirements for customers but left them optional for employees. UK supermarket chains like Morrisons have done the same.
However, caution should not be thrown to the wind. There is still a high chance of infection from those who don’t practice hygiene, are unvaccinated, or display a blatant disregard for anyone’s safety.
But enforcing policies is no longer a legal requirement and cannot be handled by the police. Therefore, you must encourage employees to maintain high hygiene and Covid control standards at all times.
Such practices include those that we are all used to by now.
For example, mask-wearing, regular hand-washing, and the 2-meter rule are incredibly effective at reducing transmission rates. Additionally, you could organize the workplace so that employee contact is kept to a minimum.
You should also incorporate a disinfection policy of surfaces touched by staff.
Also, as an employer, you are legally entitled to enact a company policy of following Covid procedures. While policies cannot be enforced to the public, internal safety policies can be requested by your company for all employees to follow.