When a survey reports 83% of employees have been talking politics at work, you must be relieved that now some work can get done. So what should be top on mind for employers to get employees back to work after a pandemic practically lifted life out of employers and employees alike and it is not over yet.
The priority is to evaluate how you have done as an employer adapting to the COVID-19 situation and comparing that to what employees think. According, to almost 20k local government employees only 75% of essential workers and 89% of remote works think you’ve done a good job. A good 1/3 or so think the job has increased after COVID-19. Both situations do not bode well for employee morale and job satisfaction and can lead to increased turnover and low employee engagement. Currently, 51% of employees are looking to leave jobs which increases the stress on HR and hiring managers. Do not forget they can burnout too!
In my experience democratic administrations issue more workplace rules and regulations to follow which in some cases require training, administration and documentation. Biden vowed to issue mandatory safety rules in all workplaces which will be one of the first things to watch for in 2021. So far, depending on the governor, states have been free to manage COVID-19 the way they saw fit. While most follow CDC workplace guidelines, they are not necessarily required to do so. It is likely that OSHA will be put in charge for ensuring employers follow the laws. While OSHA is primarily focused on the private industry, the Illinois Workplace laws require every employer to follow OSHA requirements, local government included. While this might seem like a minimal requirement to follow it has major impact when not followed and employees report the organization. The maximum penalty is $134,937 or $13,494 per infraction.
Ensure your management team understands how to administer the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act Leave. Why, because this not as popular of leave as FMLA, PTO, etc. and the usage has been increasing due to the pandemic. Domestic violence incidents are increasing, and some have the possibility of doubling up as FMLA leave in addition to VESSA. Knowing the details and how to address issues in the workplace will give employers a leg up on those that are now being fined or lowing lawsuits for not administering correctly.
Stop saying “sorry” all the time. Just because you must implement a policy, conduct a required training, or require managers to document performance discussions that employees of all levels don’t necessary like doesn’t mean you should be sorry your doing it. Are you sorry? No, most likely you are just doing your job. Does your accounting department say they are sorry every time they ask for a receipt to pay an expense? Does IT say sorry every time they shut down the computer to install a new spyware software to protect the employer’s computer systems? No they do not. So stop saying “sorry”. Perhaps, I understand, or I feel your pain but do not apologize for doing your job.
Finally, as we watch the COVID-19 case numbers likely increase due to Thanksgiving gatherings, take this opportunity to suggest alternative Christmas and New Years celebrations that will minimize the risk in early 2021. Take time to thank your management team and staff especially those that have been on the front lines. While they are your rock stars they too are vulnerable, stressed to the max and may entertain an invitation to move to a position where they can have a better mental and physical outcome. Retention should be key in this environment and doing what we learned in kindergarten such as saying please and thank you is the easiest thing you can do to help this very volatile workplace situation we are in.