Practical implications for leaders and HR professionals
After fifteen months of restrictions to the ways we live, it is no surprise that everyone wants a better existence. The Prime Minister has stated that as many limits are eliminated, it is irreversible. This, at a time where the UK is top of the global league for infections, and the death rates are increasing. So, what are the changes?
The biggest factor is the vaccination programme. Whilst not 100% effective, it is reducing the number of people being admitted to hospital and dying. Those rates are very low compared with the early part of the year. The pressure on the economy, the pleadings from businesses, and the significant effects on the mental health of people throughout lockdown, have all created an imperative; which has translated into Freedom Day.
The Government, by instinct non-interventionist, have placed the responsibilities back with individuals. The need to work from home has been lifted, the mandate to wear masks removed, and social distancing is no longer required. This affects, businesses, managers, employees, and clients. The Government implores people to carry on with the restrictions, even if they are no longer compulsory. They want people to use face masks, keep away from one another, to meet outdoors where possible, ventilate rooms and behave sensibly.
What should businesses do?
The desire to get people back to work and to re-build the business will, understandably, be compelling; but there must be a balance. It helps nobody if staff become ill and cannot attend. How will customers feel if our carelessness is the source of their infection?
As business leaders, we must lead by example and be seen to follow all the Government guidance (even though it is no longer legally required). This means continuing to wear a mask in the workplace, avoiding contact with others (no hand-shaking), not penalising people who follow the instructions to self isolate and being clear that we are still concerned and alert to the dangers of Covid. We should find the optimum work patterns and places of work, for example if possible, allow people to work from home, create a hybrid approach and stagger work times to avoid particularly busy times for travelling. We should also recognise and be empathetic to the fact that many employees will still be nervous and need reassurance.
This is an opportunity to re-boot the team, establish the ethos and principles for everyone to see and relate to, to ensure staff feel respected, and everyone remains safe.
Have a look at our article about Emerging from Lockdown: