Making it Official

Five Post-Pandemic Decisions Employers Need to Make & Communicate Now

Written by Jenna Collignon, Staff Writer at Matrix Group Publishing

As vaccination rates climb and COVID-19 case counts fall, many employers are starting to consider whether to bring people back to work, and how.  Employees today have higher expectations of their employers, as over the course of the pandemic many work situations have shifted to accommodate a new and flexible work-life balance outside of the workplace.  Many workers will have lasting health and safety concerns as lives start to move back into the office, as some refuse to get vaccinated.  This is an incredibly complex reality wherein employers will be faced with tough decisions.

Toronto-based Broad Reach Communications recently released a new white paper covering five difficult-but-critical questions that employers have to consider sooner than later and start communicating about with their employees immediately.  To read the full report, CLICK HERE

The Five Decisions:

One: Will you require your employees to be vaccinated?

The concept of an ‘unsafe work environment’ has taken on a whole new meaning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While Canadian business leaders need to be clear about what they expect of their employees when it comes to vaccinations and following health orders, it quickly becomes a legal question in regard to privacy, health, and safety.  It is critical then that you pose this question now and get the best legal and human resources advice you can about how to handle this issue within your business.

Employers have a legal duty to take every reasonable precaution under the circumstances to protect their employees.  But again, the choice of their employees is their own.  How will you handle these situations?  If an employee will not come into the office unless everyone is 100 per cent vaccine-compliant, can or must you require those not vaccinated to work from home? 

In all respects, how will you communicate your decisions in a way that shows respect for all your employees ‘wishes?

Two: Are you going to set the tone?

Broad Reach has heard from many employers that they plan to institute some level of hybrid or flexible work-from-home models for their employees.  However, effective communication is just as much about action as it is about words.  Senior people in your business must set the expectations and tone with their actions, now just policies implemented for their employees.  If you haven’t already outlined your company’s values, now would be a great time to – and to have people of all levels in the company model them.  If you have folks of higher standing in the company continuously working in office, and others working in a more flexible work-from-home situation, it sets a tone that their jobs are not as important, and that to succeed in your business you must come into the office all the time. 

Leading by example is the key to all policies implemented in any business.  Make sure to have everyone, including the most senior people, model these values every day.

Three: Are you going to treat everyone of all genders the same way?

Your answer to this question will surely be “of course!”  However, just like the previous question, that has less to do with what your business’ written policy is, but more about what you practice day-to-day.

There has always been a gap between men and women’s treatment in the workplace; however studies have shown that women’s equality has been set back during the pandemic.  With increased childcare needs related to virtual and hybrid schooling, many women have taken a step back from the work world to accommodate this added job, requiring a more flexible work-home life schedule.  Do not stop at simply resolving to accommodate these flexible schedules –the bigger question that has to be answered here is whether this will affect work opportunities or career advancement in the future. 

Four: What will be your framework for employee flexibility?

For all employees, it is very important to outline the parameters for flexible work and ensure that they aren’t inadvertently punishing those who choose to work from home rather than in office. 

One new consideration arising is the geographical flexibility of remote work.  Besides employees working from home as opposed to in the office, this broadening of scope can allow employers to expand their scope when hiring.

Employers also need to consider the mental health policies for their employees. How will you handle employees that need to take leave to deal with their own mental health, or that of their loved ones?  Through policies that promote trust and employee assistance programs for people who need it, these could be incredibly beneficial to create a progressive business. 

Of course, employers will need to be very clear about their expectations for their employees once their offices re-open.  Will you continue to make room for these remote workers?  How will this continue to work amongst your employees, as some come back into office, and some remain at home?

Five: How will you approach business travel?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees and employers travelled around the world to conduct business.  But for the last year and a half, almost no one has left the ground at all.  Employers need to ask themselves what these travel policies will be, focusing on your employees wishes and making sure everyone feels comfortable.  How much of travel is a job requirement, truly? 

The more that employers embrace this new way of working that has come out of the pandemic, the sooner employers can start communicating with their people and contribute to a thriving business in the post-pandemic future.  There are no easy answers across any of these five questions, however, it is crucial for employers to consider and answer them as soon as they can.  The world is starting to open again, and how much of it will change for the better?

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About Broad reach Communications

Broad Reach Communications is a full-service PR agency that creates powerful campaigns to help organizations elevate their brands, build their reputations, engage influencers and drive business results. Since 2008, Broad Reach has represented an impressive roster of global clients and has earned shelves of coveted industry awards. Outperforming our peers by being “In a League of Our Own,” Broad Reach is a fast-growing, innovative, entrepreneurial agency staffed by the industry’s top talent. Our people enjoy a flexible, team-spirited environment where they can really connect with clients, feel valued and supported, and produce their best work. 

For more information, contact Andrea Lekushoff at 416-435-2569 or alekushoff@brpr.ca.

Jenna Collignon

About the Author

Jenna Collignon joined the Matrix team in 2019, fresh out of the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Honours English Degree.  When asked what she most likes about her position as an editor at Matrix, she has trouble answering. “That’s because,” she says, “what ISN’T there to like?  There is something new on my plate every day, with new challenges and lessons to be learned along with that. It also doesn’t hurt to be part of such a great team.”