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HR Leaders Now Have Planning Tool for Creating Safe, Effective Workplaces as a Gradual Reopening Nears

The Conference Board has developed a planning tool that features three essential checklists

Published on April 25, 2020

As Human Resource leaders begin planning for the gradual reopening of the economy, they and their teams face a daunting task: creating a new workplace where employees can be both safe and effective. Achieving that will mean adjusting – and in many cases, upending – several processes in HR.

To help Human Resource leaders determine the various factors and suggested steps to take, The Conference Board has developed a planning tool that features three essential checklists. Each focuses on a different phase in the reset and recovery timeline: Assessment, Preparation, and Return.

The planner and accompanying report are free to the public and can be used by both US and international Human Resource teams. A sample of the tool’s suggestions and considerations for each phase are below:

In the assessment phase:

  • Review and reset business strategy, its impact (if any) on the skills necessary to execute the business model, and the implications for current/future staffing, contractual, or outsourcing arrangements.
  • Assess the need to return at all to the physical workplace and, if so, which workers need to come to the workplace and what work can be done virtually.
  • Assess community readiness, such that schools and health support facilities are open, enabling workers with children, elder-care issues, etc., to be able to return to the workplace.

In the preparation phase:

  • Review performance targets and possibly reset sales goals and metrics.
  • Restructure the work environment, which may include seating arrangements that allow for greater social distancing; defensive plexiglass shields; and rerouted employee movement flows to minimize the number of people at entry and exit points, elevators, congregation areas, and other locations that are often heavily populated.
  • Create new HR policies for, among other factors, alternative work arrangements in the event of a resurgent outbreak.
  • To help workers prepare for a return to work, distribute a communications plan that helps them understand the policy changes. It should detail the company’s expectations of employees and how the new conditions will ensure their continued safety.

In the return phase:

  • Distribute required protective gear and instructions for use.
  • Provide training or reskilling that is necessary for existing jobs or redeployment.
  • Continually communicate to further build or re-build culture. Such dialogue should begin with addressing difficult decisions and topics, including the effects of layoffs/furloughs/compensation impacts, lost colleagues, and affected families. Discussions should also include plans for a solid recovery and renewal, and a focus on “green shoots” of recovery, celebrating milestones and other wins.

The planning tool also includes a checklist of specific HR policies that may change due to COVID-19, from reasonable accommodation and remote work guidelines to absenteeism, leave policies, pay, health benefits, and retirement.

“For years to come, the actions that organizations take over the coming months will have enormous impacts on their employees, affiliates, and corporate brand,” said Rebecca Lea Ray, Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “This planner and accompanying report are essential reading for every company working toward a return to business as usual – to the extent possible – in the post-pandemic world.”

View The Conference Board’s full suite of human capital-related COVID-19 resources here.

Newsdesk Editor