HR planning

Support your workforce with an effective return-to-work plan

September 17, 2021

It’s been more than a year since the pandemic began, and by no means can we say that it is over yet. However, the widespread and rapid vaccine rollout brought some relief—government regulations are reduced and collective efforts are being taken to return physically to the workplace. As an employer, there are several considerations and factors for you to assess that can ensure a safe and smooth transition. Make sure your organization is prepared with a robust return-to-work action plan!

Benefits of a return-to-work plan

As Canadian businesses get ready to welcome employees back to work, employers must outline their expectations from everyone in the workplace. Obviously, employee safety is the highest priority when considering a return to the office, and businesses must not only implement back-to-work safety protocols, but make sure they communicate those efforts to returning employees and ensure that those policies are adhered to. Having a return-to-work plan can be one of the most efficient ways to do so. Investing time and consideration into developing this plan will help your organization prepare for any questions or concerns that may arise.

Employees benefit from return-to-work plans because they feel supported by their employer. In addition, going through a return-to-work plan, whether after COVID-19, a scheduled leave, or an injury, helps employees get back to work faster and increases their likelihood of feeling secure and stable.

Return-to-work survey and employer strategies

In April 2021, HRdownloads conducted a survey to discover the strategies Canadian businesses have for returning to the workplace. The survey report gives you a contextual understanding of how HR priorities need to change and what strategies you might adopt for returning to work.

When developing a return-to-work plan, avoid just copying and pasting a template. Really think about your workplace and how the business has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Think about your employees and the situations they may face. Invest time and thought into your plan. Work with senior management to not only help create the plan but to implement it once a return-to-work date is set.

Long-term planning and foreseeing future scenarios is an essential aspect of running a business. That is why business owners and HR leaders must also prepare for the possibility of vaccine disputes at the workplace. Employers need to make sure that no individual, either pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, should be discriminated against or harassed in the workplace. Our guide to handling vaccine disputes outlines the best practices employers should follow to help keep the peace.

Guide to COVID-19 Return-to-Work Planning

With COVID-19 measures easing, considerations for your plan should include the expected return-to-work date, disinfecting and cleaning measures, social distancing protocols, screening procedures, health and safety training, mental health considerations, and the process for individualized requests.

In the last year, employee priorities have changed, and the environment is likely to look significantly different. The workplace layout may change, and the rules and regulations you may need to enforce will be new. Communication of your return-to-work plan will be a critical step to eliminate unnecessary problems and promote a safe work environment.

Download our FREE guide that touches on the important considerations when developing a comprehensive return-to-work plan.

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