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The easing of lockdown has seen the government encouraging people back to their workplace to help kickstart the economy. This creates a number of considerations and hurdles for business owners that have had employees working from home or on furlough.

Lisa Sourbutts, of CUBE HR, outlines her top tips to successfully manage the emergence of your team into the ‘new normal’.

1. Carry out a return to work induction with every team member

Discuss things such as how they are feeling about returning, how their health has been, what have they missed about work, what have they enjoyed about being at home. Refresh on procedures and processes and discuss any changes. Reassure them about the future of the business and their role.

2. Share your COVID-19 Risk Assessment

Show your team that their safety is important and that you are doing all you can to make sure they remain healthy. See if they have concerns around any of the safety measures, work with them to alleviate these concerns and adjust your risk assessment if needed.

3. Clarify any rules around holidays for the remainder of the year

Is there a limit as to how many holidays your employees can take? Have your booking processes altered? What’s the arrangement for managing any carried forward holidays?

4. Consider permanent home and office arrangements and work / life balance

For those employees who have successfully been home-working, they may decide they’d like to make this a more permanent arrangement and they have the right to do so as a flexible working request. You need to consider the pros and cons of home-working – has it gone well so far? What are you concerns? Can you reach an agreement that suits everyone?

There may also be some employees who have enjoyed the time with family and want a better work life balance so are asking to reduce hours or change working times, again you need to consider these requests carefully.

5. Everyone’s experience of lockdown will be different

Your team will have a range of emotions about working during the pandemic, but there’s no doubt that some people’s mental health has been badly affected, don’t be afraid to ask “how are you?”, “how will you tell me if you aren’t ok?” – keep communicating with your team to support them.

And remember, some people will have experienced bereavement and may need extra help adjusting to their return.

6. If you do need to make staff cuts or reduction to hours, get the right help

Redundancy is not an easy process and it is not risk free so you do need to make sure you handle it correctly. Likewise contract variations need to be done following a set process of consultation and agreement, so check with your HR support!

Lisa Sourbutts, started trading as CUBE HR in 2017. See joined Boost’s Growth Support Programme in 2019. Since completing the programme she has experienced continued growth for her HR consultancy business.

Lisa comments “Naturally, all HR people have been extraordinarily busy over the past three months, but CUBE was already experiencing massive growth prior to COVID-19 and this has continued.

“Throughout COVID-19 we’ve been doing our best to keep people accurately informed through our mailshots and have been offering free guidance to any business in need. We’ve also been putting out content on social media and have been doing a series of Monday Mode videos where we demonstrate different HR meetings, and a free Wednesday Wisdom drop in session about typical, topical HR matters.

“Our client list has nearly trebled in the past year and continues to grow – mainly through recommendation from other satisfied clients.”

CUBE HR recently recruited an HR administrator to meet this growth and Lisa plans to take on her fourth team member and possibly a fifth, over the next 12 months.

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