Returning to "Regular" Operations
As jurisdictions across Canada reduce or eliminate COVID related restrictions, the return to "regular" operations seems like an immediate and easy step back to what we think of as the way things should be. However, there may not be a common opinion on what work looks like going forward.
Many staff are eager to stop participating in safety measures, while many others are experiencing hesitancy to return to the way things used to be. Determining how your dealership approaches these adjustments takes informed decision making, compassion for all view points and some consideration for the application of policy.
Here are some key pieces to consider, regardless of the jurisdiction that you operate in:
1) As an employer you still have an obligation to ensure a safe work place, so although there may not be a legal requirement to retain a specific COVID measure, you have the right to operational policies that set a safety standard. This may include the continuation of some COVID protocols that are not "required", including the option to participate in those that are recommended or that make sense for your particular business situation.
2) Staff may experience a reluctance to return to work if they have been working remotely. If the expectation is that the remote work was temporary, you need to ensure a timely return in order to avoid an implied change to the terms of employment.
3) Staff hesitancy may require explaining your current safety practices in order to alleviate any fears or anxiousness that both staff and customers might be experiencing.
4) Having consideration for all view points is important. Everyone is approaching the relaxation of restrictions from different experiences and views and respecting those differences is vital. This should include re-iterating to all staff the need for mutual respect and a review of what bullying may look like and how to avoid it. Respectful workplaces may include things like respecting an employee's right to space, to wear a mask and continued use of PPE or enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices. Conversely, those that no longer wish to participate in measures that are not part of your policy, recommendations or requirements from jurisdictional authorities also have the same right to a respectful workplace.
5) Be sure that you know what is still in place for regulations, recommendations and best practices so that you are not dropping protocols prior to the government mandate dates.
Being aware of the needs of staff, requirements and best practices for your area and reminding everyone of the policies, record keeping and protocols that are still in place is the best way to ensure that people feel safe, stay well and perform at a peak level. Keeping your policies front of mind and up to date can also assist with keeping everyone on the same page.
Some other aspects to consider include potential increased rates of mild illness, sudden volume requests for vacation and spontaneous changes to childcare, school and operational regulations/protocols. The need for being prepared for the unexpected has not stopped- it has only morphed into a new set of considerations so that you are well positioned for the new "regular operations" in the days and months ahead.
If you would like more information on your safety obligations, best practices or challenges your dealership may be facing please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how we assist our subscribers.