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When Are Workplaces Psychologically Safe to Reopen Amidst COVID-19?

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So, are we ready to reopen amidst COVID-19? Well that’s a difficult question

With COVID cases in the US spiking to record highs, even entertaining the discussion of reopening many of our workplaces may seem premature at best. With that said, much of the dialogue continues to be around the various ideas concerning if, when, and how to reopen each aspect of our workplaces. From a highly contentious debate around options for the upcoming school year to the simple curiosities of a potentially stir-crazy workforce, reopening remains top of mind despite a VERY FULL news cycle. So what should workplaces do in addressing a potential reopen amidst COVID-19?

While this article will not offer an opinion on timelines for safe reopening, it did will dive into some factors companies should proactively be prepared to address. While many sectors have remained open or have already reopened, at great risk and with great bravery, timelines and best practices remain ever-evolving.

SOME RESOURCESEbooks Virtual Workplace Checklist Inclusive Leadership Development PlanWebinars

Communication

The key to getting back to work is prioritizing the health and safety of both employees and customers in clear, demonstrable ways that instill trust. The Coronavirus is a personal crisis as much as a societal one. We know people will be most concerned with their own safety. Communication is undoubtedly the cornerstone of reopening workplaces in an orderly manner, with Trust and Psychological safety as the pillars that will support and strengthen a sense of calm over an extended period.

Trust

Trust may be the most important of these factors. Uncertainty and Volatility have come to define this past year and foreseeable future outlook. It is crucial that companies work diligently to establish or reaffirm trust with their workforce through proactive measures that protect their workforce’s physical safety and livelihoods to ensure a seamless transition through this chapter. Instilling trust in consumer confidence which will be equally vital to economic recovery moving forward.

Psychological Safety

Companies should empower their team members should be encouraged to express concern, share their thoughts, and provide feedback. Having an outlet to air their worries in a way that ensures they know leadership is listening will increase a feeling of safety. Similarly, having daily or weekly huddles with team members to check on how everyone is doing and feeling shows empathy towards colleagues within the company and invites them to display it as well. It’s already been shown that 96% of employees believe displaying empathy is an important way to improve retention. Employees will need to feel both physically and psychologically safe if they are to be successful when their workplaces reopen amidst COVID-19.

Inclusion

Inclusion is more important than ever as workplaces must bring every ounce of innovation and creativity to the table as they compete in an ever-changing market. In an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ environment, we must ensure all hands are, indeed, brought on deck, thus further instilling a greater sense of psychological safety. This is especially true for Millennials, the largest generational bloc in the American workforce today as they are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction where there is a creative, inclusive working culture (76%) rather than an impersonal and authoritarian approach (49%).

Additionally, inclusion is the primary ingredient in hosting conversations and implementing change around diversity and racial equality in our workplaces.

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SOME RESOURCESEbooks Virtual Workplace Checklist Inclusive Leadership Development Plan Webinars

Looking Forward

Timelines and forecasts for reopening will remain understandably fluid and uncertain. A successful and safe reopening will require a healthy balance between tactics/strategies and soft skills development, so it remains important for different ideas and perspectives to be shared amongst professionals as we continue to weigh the evolving elements that will factor into a safe and prosperous reopening, whenever that may be.

Did we leave anything out? Do you disagree? What do workplaces need to tackle to reopen amidst COVID-19? Share this article on LinkedIn or Twitter and let us know!

In the meantime, we hope everyone is safe and healthy considering the times and look forward to sharing again soon.

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