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Prioritizing Staff During a Phased Re-Opening: Questions to Ask Yourself

Jun 17, 2020

Jill Keelan

Jill Keelan

Director, Product Marketing

After three long months of a collective state of suspension, the summer weather brings good news for organizations that have occupied a state of hibernation due to stay-at-home orders instilled to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. All 50 states have begun various phases of re-opening, meaning that many businesses have already received or are anxiously awaiting the green light to resume operations.

Many employers are rightfully itching to make up for the lost time and to recover the resulting diminished business revenue. It’s more than likely that your employees are also eager to get back to work, but the last thing you want to do is discourage them with even more uncertainty by not keeping them informed as decisions are made.

Before putting a lead foot on the gas pedal, prepare yourself with a carefully plotted roadmap of what your re-opening journey will look like. This will be useful should you get lost or pop a tire along the way. First stop on the map: how and when will you recall your employees? Keep in mind that there may be numerous outside factors that prevent your business from running operations at full capacity, so you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions as you evaluate your recall plan:

Which roles are essential to operations?

During the re-opening process, you may need to create, pause, or adjust roles to accommodate changes to your operations. Perhaps your business started offering delivery or curbside pickup, or maybe new product lines have been created to fulfill a gap in the supply chain. You may even need to create a new role for extensive cleaning and sanitizing procedures.

What skills do my employees need to have?

To effectively fill these new or changing roles, identify the skills required to perform each responsibility and mine your existing roster of employees—active or inactive—to find individuals that fit the criteria or can be trained to do so. You don’t need the added burden of recruiting and onboarding new employees as employee retention will be the key to a successful execution.

6 Essential Workforce Management Strategies for a Safe and Productive Return to Work

6 Essential Workforce Management Strategies for a Safe and Productive Return to Work

Download this eBook to learn 6 essential workforce management strategies that will help you design a safe and structured return-to-work plan.

When is the right time to re-open?

For many businesses, it might not make sense to open multiple locations if the cost to operate at a significantly lower occupancy limit will outweigh revenue potential. First, try a soft opening or A/B testing across fewer locations to get a better feel of business performance before opening at a broader level.

What will my hours of operation be?

If you are expectant that business performance will provide lower results than historically recorded, you’ll want to rethink your operating hours to safeguard your labor spend. Ask yourself: will there be enough demand for my product or services to justify re-opening with my original hours of operation?

What does availability look like for my employees?

You’ll want to get a clear understanding of your employees’ availability, preferences, and current situation. Some might not have access to childcare, some might have underlying health concerns that could prevent their on-site presence, and some may be caring for sick family members. For employees with more flexibility, be sure to ask whether they are willing to take on a new role, work a different location, or adjust their shift hours to accommodate business needs.

Do I have any contractual obligations?

Collective bargaining or union agreements often have provisions that govern how layoffs, furloughs, and recalls are managed. These can vary widely across agreements, so make sure that you are honoring the necessary rules, like seniority or bump rules, to avoid grievances or unfair labor practice charges.

Now is the time to have the right workforce management solution in place to help you make smarter and more strategic staff planning decisions. Prioritizing staffing for a phased re-opening is just one stop down a long and winding road toward the “new normal.” For an extensive guide that will help you plan your entire return-to-work journey, download our latest eBook, 6 Essential Workforce Management Strategies for a Safe and Productive Return to Work.

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