Someday soon we’ll be going back to work. Some, of course, are already working in manufacturing under the new regime. Many questions lurk for those planning to get moving again.
To find out more, I spoke with Kim Wallace, executive vice president of Hire Dynamics a staffing consulting company focused on the Southeastern US.
She told me that after the first shock of cutting back or closing, companies began reevaluating their workforce and job descriptions. The first order of business was what jobs needed to be maintained and which employees could work from home. Then came the difficult decisions of furloughs and lay offs. Managers would evaluate balancing personnel needs per department. What is driving the frenetic activity? Cash flow. All of who have been in business know that cash is king. Many companies needed to stop the bleeding.
Hire Dynamics provides strategic consulting on workforce issues and was quickly called in to help management develop strategies for a situation no one knew how long would last.
When it’s time to start up, employees have many considerations, all of which have ramifications for the company. In some cases, going back to work could actually mean a pay cut for the employee who is better off financially to stay home. Some have childcare or elder care situations where there is no alternative to their being home to provide that care. Many will be nervous and concerned about returning to work only to become infected by the coronavirus—despite efforts to reduce the risk.
Many people do want to work, though. And companies need to get production going or die.
So, what does it take to start up again? The threat of virus spreading is still real. No one wants to have most of its workforce and its management team home sick with the possibility of several dying.
This takes a strategy. Companies such as Hire Dynamics are there to help companies plan and start up.
Wallace pointed out that most companies are worried about three things: cash flow, culture, and image. Managing cash flow is crucial for all businesses, and especially for small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). This calls for phased start up balancing workers with sales. As companies bring back employees and face necessity of bringing in new hires, they need to be mindful both of maintaining their culture and also developing a culture of health practices. Aware of how decisions impact their image in their communities and their industries, companies need to manage the startup well.
Companies cannot afford for the virus to spread throughout the entire management team. They, therefore, stagger management team days at work so that if someone spreads the infection it will not spread to the entire team. Considering production people the first strategy is to adjust shifts so that they do not congregate exiting and entering. If at all possible, have different doors for entering and exiting to keep some separation.
Companies may need help with signage to direct people where and how to enter and leave. They need procedures for temperature screening employees entering for their shifts. Do managers do the screening leaving them at higher risk of infection? Or hire medical technicians?
Another consideration is sanitizing. Perhaps the best strategy is for each shift to sanitize when they arrive at their workstations and then again just before they leave. They will need procedures and training on sanitizing. Note that all this needs to be part of the clock in/clock out procedure. Speaking of company image, management must be cognizant of the impact of decisions unlike a very large company who earned a lot of bad press and congressional scrutiny by doing much of that work off the clock on employee time.
Here are some of the policy and procedure and practical help that Hire Dynamics can provide:
- Break rooms (close? Eat at stations? Other things.)
- Restrooms (block every other sink and toilet stall, etc.)