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Keep Employees Safe & Engaged While Returning to The Office During COVID-19

Posted, by Deborah Merkin
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As states begin to open back up after COVID-19 shut-downs, employees are gradually returning back to work in offices. For many, this transition may be unsettling. 

To help ease the adjustment, organizations need to make and monitor changes to safety procedures and policies, the physical workplace environment, and their approach to employee engagement as they adapt to the “new normal.”

A recent WorldAtWork survey estimates that more than two-thirds of organizations plan to resume, or have already resumed, “normal” operations by the end of summer, which means that now is the time to have a plan in place for employee health and safety in the office.

Organizations will need to adjust the working environment, their standard work procedures, and their employee engagement programs if they want to make the transition as seamless as possible for employees preparing to go back to work after the quarantine. 


Preventive Safety Measures in the Office

With many businesses opening back up to the general public, employees will have concerns about safety measures in the office for COVID-19.

An important part of your strategy will be communicating openly and clearly about your plans and any new information that may arise in the coming months. Even more so if your workforce is divided between the office and at home, you’ll want to clarify any new procedures, expectations, and limitations to keep everyone informed and on the same page.

Related: Ensure You Have the Healthcare Essentials You Need During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Many businesses are taking preventive measures in the office, such as routine cleaning and temperature monitoring, setting up personal space barriers between desks and in common areas, hybrid employee schedules to reduce in office contact, and limiting meeting sizes and spaces. If you expect to implement new safety protocols and rules in the office like these, employees will need to be reminded at first before new habits are formed and followed. Consider placing signs and posters outlining safety procedures and expectations in areas employees can view clearly.


New Work Procedures & Policies During COVID-19

While returning to an office will bring about new ways of collaborating in groups safely, other work procedures need to be adjusted as well.

Flexibility is going to be key moving forward since many things regarding COVID-19 remain uncertain. Some employees may elect to continue working from home temporarily or indefinitely; others will need flexibility to have a combination of remote and office working; while many will be faced with the challenge of finding childcare for their children as daycare services and schools remain closed. For employees who have roles that require traveling, they need to know when they will be expected to travel again, how to travel safely, and if your policies on travel have changed. 

Related: Promote Safety with Gift Card Incentives During National Safety Month

Employers need to be clear about sick leave and paid time off policies as well. Expect employees to have shifting needs as they are trying to balance their work and home lives. More importantly, employees need to be able to go home if they feel ill, and organizations need to consider the steps or have a plan in place if an employee reports or shows symptoms of COVID-19.


Adapting Employee Engagement & Reward Programs

Having employees split between working remotely and working in the office not only will require adjustments to standard working routines and safety procedures, but employee engagement and rewards will need attention as well. 

Employee engagement programs have already seen some changes over the past several months as many employees worked from home for the first time in order to address the challenges of working remotely. Rewards need to be tailored for employees going back to the office to address their ongoing needs, make the transition easy and safe, and keep employees feeling appreciated, engaged, and motivated.

The act of receiving a reward is effective in itself, but the rewards you choose can also do the heavy-lifting in creating positive, morale-boosting experiences. For example, gift card rewards can give employees access to essential items they may need at home or at work, facilitate experiences to share with friends and family, or provide conveniences such as meal prep services to save time and alleviate stress, all by choosing the brand that aligns best with the recipient.

Related: Test Your Knowledge on Engaging and Rewarding a Remote Team

The circumstances around COVID-19 continually shift and have required organizations and their employees to adapt quickly in order to keep business operations steady. Now that the majority of states are in phases of re-opening, it’s important to monitor and address the needs of all employees to ensure their safety and well-being—and GiftCard Partners has the solutions to help.

With over 250 gift card brands to choose from our Engage2Reward™ Platform, you’re able to reward and support your employees with services and needs that matter most right now.

Check out our brand catalog to see select the right ones for your employees.

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Topics: Workplace Health & Wellness, Employee Engagement, Employee Incentives & Rewards

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