September sometimes feels like a fresh start. A time to get back to normal after a busy summer break.
However, this September is much different. Parents all around had to make the difficult choice of sending their children back to school, homeschooling, or a mixture of both. It was not an easy decision to make and left many feeling stressed and a bit anxious with their decision.
We have been receiving a lot of questions regarding back-to-school considerations for employers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are 3 tips that help you navigate during these uncertain times:
1. Proactively communicate with employees
Communicating with your team has never been more important than it is right now. When making any changes to the daily operations of your office you want to give your team something called "practicable notice" aka, giving your team as much notice as possible of any changes.
If you need to close the office due to a COVID-19 outbreak, there isn't a lot of time to notify your team and patients. Realistically you want to just do the best you can here. But when you're recalling your team you need to keep them in the loop on what is happening. Even if it's an informal phone call to just let them know that the status of reopening hasn't changed. If you have a potential reopening timeline, you can let your team in on the process but continue to reiterate that the situation is fluid therefore nothing is set in stone.
Work with your team so that they have all of the information possible to start taking care of their personal arrangements (child-care, elder-care, etc.)
Give your employees your time and your attention so that they feel heard and that they are able to bring their ideas and concerns to you as a leader.
2. Be flexible, when and wherever possible
The personal situations of each of your team members is going to be drastically different based on their home life. If they have an immunocompromised family member living in their house, they might need some accommodations made in the workplace to support their work-life balance, at this point in time.
If admin staff are able to do some work from home, initiate flexible or remote working agreements to facilitate this telework option while also maintaining high standards of patient information protection. Your staff working out of the office will need to create a virtual private network in order to maintain high privacy standards.
Staggering start/end times and breaks can also be a great way to maximize the efficiency of your practice while also limiting the amount of employees gathered to any single spot within the practice. Talk with your team and find out what options you have available for staggered starts and work schedules. This will take some time to get used to, but the benefits can be much larger in the long run!
3. Review leave policies and obligations
With kids going back to school, it is highly probable that there will be times when an employee needs to be off of work to fulfil their childcare obligations based on unpredictable emergencies popping up.
Communicate with your team regarding your leave policies and let them know what types of paid time off they have available to use within the calendar year.
Create your contingency plan so that you are prepared to run in a leaner fashion for a period of time if necessary.
Also, what is your protocol for if an employee's child or spouse is sick? What if the employee's child or spouse was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19? What if the employee's child or spouse was in close contact with someone who is sick but has not received a COVID-19 test result yet? What if an employee's child care center/school has to shut down for a period of time? Having clear guidelines for these situations will help to alleviate some of the stress associated with this already stressful situation and will make it a part of your everyday routine.
Just like integrating any new policy or procedure into your practice, it takes time, dedication, patience, and consistency and then over time it becomes just a part of your day to day operations.
We have also created a back to school resource to help guide you through this uncertain time.
We are here to support you and your team.
Contact Us Today!