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Resource roundup: Get advice on the next steps for your workplace

The coronavirus has had a huge impact on work environments, but it’s essential to create a positive space for employees during this challenging time.

As the crisis continues, business owners need to think about long-term changes they can make to support the physical and mental health of their employees. 

We’ve gathered important advice and information that will help you create a safe, positive work environment.

Want advice on making your workplace coronavirus secure?

The Health and Safety Executive has detailed advice on how to make your workplace coronavirus secure. Businesses can find guidance on conducting a risk assessment, social distancing and workplace hygiene.

For more information on how the virus is transmitted and cleaning your premises, see government guidelines.

The government has also provided specific safety information for different types of businesses, including those offering close contact services and entering customers’ homes

Trade association UK Hospitality has a useful guide for hospitality businesses on how to communicate rules to guests, take payments safely and manage facilities like shared toilets.

Require clarity on who needs to wear face coverings or PPE?

Face coverings must be worn by staff in retail, leisure and hospitality establishments that are open to the public, unless your business has taken action to create a physical barrier between workers and members of the public. 

You can read the full government guidance on face coverings at work here.

If your staff need to use personal protective equipment (PPE), it’s your responsibility to supply the equipment and ensure each employee has access to it. The HSE provides more information on using PPE at work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Need to understand your next steps if an employee has to self-isolate?

Your employee may need to self-isolate for the following reasons:

  • They have coronavirus symptoms or have received a positive coronavirus test
  • They have been told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace service
  • Someone in their household has symptoms

If your employee has coronavirus symptoms, employers should advise them to follow the government advice for self-isolation and ask for a coronavirus test.  

Employees who need to self-isolate should work from home if they can. 

If your employee can’t work from home, they should receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme allows some employers to claim back employees’ coronavirus-related SSP. Check if you’re eligible here.

For more information, see the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) FAQ on self-isolation and quarantining.

Looking for advice on supporting employees’ physical and mental health?

Research from the Mental Health Foundation found that people are gradually learning to cope with the crisis, but there are still millions of people struggling with stress and anxiety across the UK.

It’s important not to get complacent about your employees’ mental health, particularly if your staff are working remotely or the business continues to experience significant disruptions. 

The CIPD has advice on supporting employee mental health, including details on the signs and symptoms of poor mental health.

It’s a good idea to think about how you can support your employees through the winter months and encourage a positive work-life balance. Remember that reduced daylight hours and colder temperatures can make it harder to take breaks outdoors or exercise. 

Mental health charity Mind recommends:

  • Getting as much natural light and nature as you can
  • Finding ways to be creative and stimulate your mind, like taking up a musical instrument or finding a DIY project
  • Eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep
  • Taking part in online exercise classes

You can find more resources and advice on tailoring your workplace to support employee mental health here.

Want help managing the mental health of furloughed employees?

The recent extension of the furlough scheme may result in some of your employees being out of work for the best part of a year. It’s vital that you’re providing them with the support they need.

This article from Mental Health UK has some useful suggestions on how you can support furloughed employees, like identifying skills they want to learn and working with them to find training programmes. 

You can double check what your employees can and can’t do while on furlough in this guide from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

Need advice on motivating employees during the coronavirus crisis?

Business owners need to be able to create a motivated, productive work environment, especially if your employees are working remotely. 

It’s important to set targets and provide routines wherever possible. Give your employees clear goals to work towards each week and month, even if you’re still making tweaks to your long-term strategy.

This article from the Harvard Business Review explains how business leaders can set weekly routines to keep remote employees motivated. 

HubSpot also offers some practical tips on being productive while working from home, like removing social networks from your toolbar and saving calls or virtual meetings for the afternoon.

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