Been a month of getting back to work?
How to support your staff after you’ve opened your café doors again.
Recently in the UK cafés and other hospitality venues were able to re-open for outdoor service. For many staff this has meant coming back to work for the first time in several months. After unprecedented levels of uncertainty surrounding employment, health & socializing in the last year; this is undoubtedly a big deal. So how can we manage the transition between furlough and returning to work in a way that supports our teams and maintains feelings of safety, support and camaraderie?
1) Check people’s availability
Before bringing people back to work on their previous schedule it’s a good idea to check their availability. Chances are it’s been a long time since they worked those hours and, if you’re able to; it would mean a lot to your team & probably be a good opportunity for you to make sure the rota works for everyone. Rather than bringing a small number of staff back full-time, consider phased returns with flexible-furlough to give the whole team the chance to ease back into the rigors of the job and the ‘new normal.’ If you’ve already bought staff back make sure you do regular check ins with them. After all, staff are the core of your business and their happiness is paramount.
2) Ensure safety measures are in place
It’s essential to make sure you are adhering to government guidelines to keep both staff, and customers safe. Not only will you want to do this from a legal standpoint; it’s also essential to show your staff that you’re taking their safety seriously indeed. In all likelihood they have legitimate concerns about re-opening and its impact on their health so take time to explain measure you have put in place, and reassure your team.
3) Address mental health as a priority
It’s well-documented that Covid-19 and its related restrictions is having a detrimental effect on the nation’s mental health. 69% of adults report feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect Covid-19 is having on their life. This heightened anxiety is affecting people of all ages and backgrounds and it’s only the tip of the wellbeing-iceberg. So it’s fair to assume that your staff’s mental health may have taken a battering during the last year and that you will need to take this into consideration when re-opening. Mind, the mental health charity have a great resource for helping employers support mental wellbeing in the workplace but the most important thing you can do is to create a culture where staff feel supported and safe to discuss their mental health openly.
If you don’t already have regular chats with staff, them make sure you schedule the time to sit and listen to them. Providing a safe space can be as much about holding metaphorical space for people to freely speak as about a physical area. If people are anxious, having a supportive manager/owner will go a long way to help them ease back in.
4) Always have a backup plan
If we’ve all learnt anything from the last year or so, it’s that when plan-A doesn’t work out we’ll need to run through a few more letters of the alphabet before we reach a plan that does! Optimism for the future is great, and we definitely need it, but it’s also necessary to be realistic. It’s likely one or several of your team might need to take extra time off for illness or to isolate in the next few months, this might be at very short notice so always make sure you have a subs-bench ready to step in. Have several back-up plans in place for things like staffing, procedures and marketing so that if something goes awry; you’re not clutching for a solution. After all, if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it's that you never know what's coming next...