Keeping Your Human Resources Department Up With Phased Return to Workplace Plans

Dr. Ryan Giffen

Coronavirus has had a drastic effect worldwide. Due to COVID 19, many individuals are working remotely or out of work completely. Each state has a different approach to reopening. Many human resources departments are scrambling to keep up with the changes. Pennsylvania, for example, uses colors to represent phases of reopening. The red phase represents using strict social-distancing to prevent coronavirus. The yellow phase represents the middle ground between reopening and sheltering in place. The green phase represents the reopening of an area, or “the new normal.”

Many businesses across the United States are anticipating the return of their employees as COVID 19 dies down and they reach the “green” phase. Before this happens, human resources departments have a lot of work and thinking to do. There are many considerations to keep in mind when figuring out a workplace return plan. 

What Is a Phased Return? 

Many companies with a larger number of employees are using phased work returns to limit the number of employees they have in the workplace at one time. This means that initially, employees will work shorter hours and have fewer duties. The aim of a phased return is to slowly build employees back up to working full time as things with the coronavirus change. 

Following Government Guidelines within your human resources department

If your human resources department is struggling with their return to workplace plans, they may want to look to the guidelines created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the guidelines recommended by the OSHA and CDC include conducting a hazard assessment of your workplace. By doing so, your human resources department will have a better idea of your company’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of coronavirus. This includes keeping employees educated on how to maintain good hygiene and encourage them to take preventive measures against COVID 19, like wearing a mask. You might consider installing higher efficiency air filters in your company’s air vents. This will help reduce the spread of any potential illness. 

The guidelines offered by the OSHA and CDC are bound to shift, making it important to be prepared for changes. It is frustrating to have to change your return to workplace plans as guidelines change. However, these changes are being made for the wellbeing and safety of your employees. 

Maintaining Flexibility 

Every company is different in many ways. Different plans of action will be required for each company that has employees returning to work. These plans will need to consider the location of the workplace, the local requirements, and the company’s function. It is also good to regard the number of employees working in your location and how easy it will be to maintain social distancing between employees. This may mean making some changes within the workplace before the employees return, such as moving desks. You might also need to limit the number of employees that can be in one place at the same time, meaning there may be a limited number of employees who can take lunch in one area together. 

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.