Phase 2: How employers can prepare for their staffs’ return to work3 min read

Glints return to work

More employees will return to work in Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening, such as those in education, finance, and F&B. The COVID-19 pandemic may have taken a toll on their hygiene concerns and mindsets. Here’s what employers should do to prepare for their return.

DISCLAIMER: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has put out requirements for safe management at the workplace. The tips in this article are additional suggestions on top of the MOM guidelines. Do refer to that and the latest MOM advisories as well.  

1. Implement 1-on-1 meetings for staff through video call

Encourage managers to speak with their employees one-on-one to understand how their health or well-being have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ideally, do this over video call rather than face-to-face.

It’s a good opportunity to check how employees coped with their tasks while working from home. Also, ask them if they would like any changes to their responsibilities/ work arrangements. 

In the next few weeks, managers should also look out for warning signs that employees are struggling to readapt to the workplace routine. Some examples include irritability, missing deadlines, and changes in performance. 

Related: 4 crisis management tips for employers, from a people strategy expert

2. Hold a second onboarding 

Use this second onboarding session to:

  • Update staff on changes in business strategy
  • Announce the company’s measures to ensure a safer work environment
  • Seek opinions on how to improve the company

3. Create feedback loops 

Employees may have worries about their health and safety. So employers can create online feedback forms or dedicated two-way message channels to address their concerns. 

For example, Resources Global Professionals’ HR executive used short online questionnaires to understand their staffs’ worries about travelling to and from the office. Then, they used that knowledge to design better policies. 

4. Acknowledge employees’ generosity and good deeds

Have some of your employees volunteered to help vulnerable communities amid the pandemic? Or crowdsourced donations for a social cause? Acknowledge these wholesome acts through company-wide emails to boost morale and spread positivity.

5. For HR team: update company policy 

No one knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. So it’s best to take a long-term view and factor it into your company policy. HR teams should consider how employees’ medical leave and compensation will be affected in these scenarios:

  • Employee tests positive for COVID-19
  • Staff is placed on quarantine because they came into contact with an infected person
  • Employee experiences mental health struggles 

6. Regular COVID-19-related communications

Employees want to be kept in the loop. So it’s good practice for HR teams to send regular company-wide updates about the COVID-19 situation and how it will affect employees and the workplace. Tell them about the company’s plan as Singapore progresses through Phase 2 and approaches Phase 3.

This way, employees will be certain about the next step in their work arrangements. It also assures them that the company prioritises their safety.

Final words on employees’ return to work

Before getting employees to return to work, do refer to the MOM’s requirements for safe management at the workplace and the latest safety advisories.

Employers and HR teams should do what they can to assure staff that they have their wellbeing and safety in mind.