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How to Properly Train and Keep Employees Safe During COVID-19
COVID-19 forced many businesses to put their operations on hold, but many businesses have recently begun reopening their doors. For the majority of people, the reopening of businesses is exciting and provides hope for a better tomorrow; however, many returning employees are facing health and safety risks.
Regardless of respective industries, as employees return to work, there are various aspects that employers should consider regarding workplace safety. How can I prioritize the health of my employees while still remaining productive? What measures can I take to stay compliant and guarantee my business won’t shut down again?
In efforts to guide employees during these uncertain times, and ensure their safety as they help operate businesses, proper training is essential. Below are possible practices to adopt in order to properly train employees and run an efficient business in a COVID-19 world.
Keep Employees Informed & Updated on Changing Practices
Back in March, there were endless amounts of questions but only few answers, which left the public feeling uncertain of the future. This virus swept in and forced many locations to lock down, resulting in the shutdown of many businesses, both big and small. In recent months, officials have since made strides to allow those shutdown businesses to reopen, but not without specific safety measures and evolved business practices outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
As this pandemic has pressed on, many of those initial practices, guidelines and policies for conducting business have changed. As aspects of business continue to change, while we hopefully phase out of this COVID-centric era, it is pertinent to keep employees updated about any and every altercation.
For example, each state is in a varying degree of progression as a result of their current state of the virus. Particular states are reversing as COVID-19 case numbers rise and other states are fully reopened, which impacts the way businesses are run. In order to comply with state guidelines, it is important to know what practices are legally required by each state. If your state requires employees to wear specific PPE or participate in daily health screens, temperature checks or questionnaires, ensure your employees are in-the-know.
If there’s one thing that can be guaranteed about this period of time, is that change is to be expected. Keeping your employees informed about shifting policies and evolving business practices allows them to better grasp this new, ever-changing work environment. The more open your lines of communication are with your employees, the easier each transition will be.
Encourage Health Prioritization
As business owners, it is no secret that employees heavily dictate the success of your establishment. In order to prioritize them during this time, keep them safe, and stay CDC compliant, it is essential to thoroughly educate employees about the coronavirus and encourage them to prioritize their health, as well as the health of others.
Shockingly enough, many people are not fully informed about many of the symptoms that this virus can cause. As you train your employees during this time, it is vital to stress the importance of self-monitoring for symptoms and staying home if feeling sick. Highlight what the coronavirus symptoms are, as well as how to self-monitor properly. Likewise, not only is it important to know how to self-monitor, but it is also crucial to know what to do in the event of symptom mirroring or possible COVID-19 exposure.
Additionally, as emphasized by the CDC, requiring sick employees to stay home is encouraged and an important part of slowing the spread of illnesses. Sick leave should also be flexible, and there should be an outline of resources aimed at assisting those employees in the event that they contract the virus. In respect to daily measures that can be easily implemented, emphasize the importance of proper hand-washing and sanitization practices that all employees, staff and employers must abide by.
Not only can these measures keep your employees safe, but they could also potentially save the lives of customers and other employees. Being well-informed about this virus as a whole can allow employees to take care of themselves during this time and be diligent in their efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
Educate & Train Employees to Become Compliant
Proper training provides employees with the necessary information regarding policies, rules, values, risks, etc. of your business, in order for them to help run your business successfully. As you navigate these uncertain times to the best of your ability, prioritizing your employees through proper training is a surefire way to ensure that they’re knowledgeable and ready to brave the day.
By maintaining compliance to employment laws and CDC guidelines, you can help your business remain open during this time and not face future shutdowns. This is also a great way to look out for your employees, as their adherence to laws and regulations allows them to remain hired during these uncertain times as well.
Although this period of time in history is scary and there is not one universal “right answer” to conducting business, training employees and providing them with all of the necessary information is a great step in the right direction.
Heather Bendinelli is the co-founder of Small Business Employee Training, a San Diego-based startup focused on providing small business owners with COVID-19 specific training to ensure that their employees are prepared to return to work and will create a safe and healthy workplace environment. The course that she co-created ensures that each employee is educated on all current regulations and rules as set forth by major governing entities, such as the CDC, WHO, as well as other national and international organizations. Heather also is the Director of Employee Relations and Compliance at the University of California San Diego and specializes in employment law.