By Jori Hamilton
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of devastation for businesses across the country. It resulted in the permanent closure of over 200,000 businesses. Many others had to scale back operations, change their hours, or let go of many staff members. If you’re lucky enough to be a business that has remained afloat, you’ve probably already made some changes in your operations that have allowed you to be open over a year after this started.
But, even with the vaccine rollout, we aren’t out of this pandemic yet. Variants of the virus have started to cause issues, making it clearer than ever that businesses need to get their safety procedures right to keep customers happy and healthy.
So, how do businesses get some of these safety measures right and wrong? What should you be doing, and what mistakes should you be avoiding?
Don’t: Assume Changes are Temporary
For a while, it seemed as though we were shifting to a post-pandemic society. Then, the Delta variant hit. It was a clear indicator that this is far from over. Even when the pandemic is under control, one of the biggest mistakes businesses can make is assuming the safety measures in place are temporary.
Some practices should continue to be implemented even when things are deemed safe again. Being agile enough to put your staff and your customers’ well-being first will boost your business and give everyone a greater sense of safety. Many of your customers will still be nervous or cautious about getting back to “normal”. Easing their worries by making some safety changes permanent can make a big difference.
Don’t: Only Focus on COVID
It’s hard not to focus all of your attention and efforts on COVID. Even over a year later, it’s a major topic of conversation and on just about every news station each day. But, it’s a mistake to focus all of your safety efforts on COVID alone. Workplace accidents and other illnesses can still happen. Some of the most common include:
- Slips and falls
- Chemical exposure
- Equipment-related injuries
According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured every 7 seconds on the job. That’s over 7 million injuries each year. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that, in 2019, “the costs for an on-the-job injury are $1,100 per worker, $42,000 per medically consulted worker and $1,220,000 per death — numbers that are far greater than what workers’ compensation alone can cover.” Employees can also get sick with anything from the common cold to the flu. Having COVID safety measures in place can help to stop the spread of other illnesses, but keep in mind that they do still happen and it’s important to have protocols in place for everything to truly ensure people’s safety.
Do: Maintain Mental Health
Speaking of those protocols, what can you really do? How do you know which things should go “back to normal” and what should stay in place? One of the best things you can do is to work closely with local health officials. They can guide you on how to prepare your workplace and keep everyone safe.
It’s also important to focus on the mental health of your workers. Studies have shown that anxiety and depression have been on the rise throughout the pandemic. It’s not uncommon for workers to experience burnout and for customers to still be struggling with fear.
So, when you’re considering policies and procedures to keep in place, make mental health a priority. Not sure how to do that? Consider some of the following ideas:
- Survey employees about the current state of their mental health
- Help workers reduce their stress levels
- Set specific hours and discourage overtime work
- Make time for fun in the workplace
- Know how to notice red flags
When people know you’re serious about mental health, they’ll feel more at ease with your business. Employees will feel more appreciated and cared for, long after the effects of this pandemic finally subside.
With that in mind, make sure you’re on the right side of safety when it comes to navigating these pandemic and post-pandemic waters. Implementing safety changes can make a big difference when it comes to the longevity of your business.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in topics related to politics, urban living, society, and health. If you’d like to learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.