As recent events have shown, small business owners need to take steps to protect their employees’ health. They should do this not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it has a direct impact on the performance and sustainability of their enterprise.
Balancing the needs of employees and that of the business can be tricky, particularly in smaller organizations. Thankfully, there are many things that small businesses can do that will reduce the potential health risks faced by their employees, as well as those of their customers and suppliers.
Here are just a few of the ways you can protect your employees.
11 Simple Ways to Protect Your Small Business’s Employees’ Health
Provide Them with the Tools They Need to Protect Themselves:
It will be difficult to ensure everyone’s safety if you do not provide your people with the means to stay safe. Protecting your employees with PPEs and consistently supplying them with the protective clothing they need in the workplace is the best way to prevent them from reusing gear and being exposed to infection or contamination. Access to hand sanitizer and proper handwashing facilities will also help reduce the risks of employees getting sick on the job.
Communicate with Your Employees Regularly:
Your employees may have valid health concerns that you never realize existed. The best way to bring these to light is to maintain an open line of communication with your team. Consider taking your team members’ individual health concerns when planning out your schedule and work setup.
Don’t Punish Sick Employees:
One major reason sick employees may come to work and spread illnesses to the rest of your team is the fear of the consequence for calling in sick. Make it clear that you will not punish them for being ill and that you would rather that they stay at home.
Review Your Existing Leave Policies:
Employees who don’t have sick leaves are much more likely to come to work even when sick. If your entire team gets sick, the cost to your company will probably be higher compared to what you’ll save with a no-work, no-pay policy.
Promote Correct Handwashing:
While face masks and hand protectors can do a lot to mitigate health risks to your employees, handwashing is still the most effective way to reduce the incidences of sickness in your team. Make sure to share educational materials on correct handwashing and enforce strict rules if employees will be handling food or other objects that can be easily contaminated.
Allow More Employees to Work from Home:
If an employee’s job can be done from home, don’t make them come to the workplace unless there’s a specific and urgent need for it. This is especially important at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading in many places around the world. For every employee that you can allow to work from home, you can significantly reduce the running risk of your whole team getting sick.
Use Teleconferencing Apps Whenever Possible:
Avoid face-to-face meetings unless absolutely necessary. If possible, schedule meetings to be done remotely through apps such as Zoom or Skype to reduce the relative risk of infection within your business.
Pay for Your Essential Employee’s Testing:
If you need employees to come in for work during an infectious disease outbreak, you need to make sure that they’re truly fit for work and not a risk to your team and customers. By paying for testing, you can get a much more accurate assessment of the risks involved.
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Review Your Workplace Layouts:
Try to see if your workplace can accommodate adequate social distancing standards. Review the distances of different workstations, as well as the areas where customers are likely to congregate. Afterwards, readjust layouts accordingly to reduce everyone’s risks.
Send Sick Employees Home Immediately:
The moment an employee shows clear signs of being sick, they should be sent home to reduce the infection risk to your team and your business.
Develop a Disinfection Routine:
Keeping infections in the workplace to a minimum is less about big actions and more about consistently doing several small things to bring down the risk. Disinfection of frequently touched surfaces should be high on your list of priorities. Focus on door and fridge handles, cash registers, bathroom fixtures, computer peripherals, elevator buttons, and other everyday items your team and your customers can come in contact with. Giving all your employees antibacterial hand protectors will also serve to further bring down their chances of acquiring a touch-transmitted infection.
Most of the solutions above won’t have to break the bank. Clearly, there isn’t always a need to choose between your employees’ health and keeping your business afloat. Hopefully, these suggestions can keep your business running even in these uncertain times. What other measures can you think of to help keep essential employees safe? We’d love to hear your ideas!
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