This is a pivotal moment for the culture of workplace health and safety. If companies drop the ball on decontamination protocols or any other key element in their recovery plan, it could do irrevocable damage to business continuity, company culture and trust in their leadership.
For workers, the pandemic has made health and safety an increasingly personal issue. It is not just about protection for themselves any more, it’s about protection for their families and social circles. That’s a huge transition, and it means we’re all far more likely to demand accountability and more relevant, substantiated investments in workplace safety. I can’t imagine coming into work on day one after this pandemic without knowing that my employer had put all the measures in place that they said they would.
Leaders within organizations will have to put their money where their mouth is if they want to attract and retain quality people. Investments in enhanced non-pharmaceutical interventions, response protocols, health screening, contact tracing and proven decontamination protocols will be the new minimum expectations. We will also see an uptick in demand for defensible safety programs and training on new safe work practices as a result of greater awareness of workers’ rights and appropriate protective measures. Not to mention that businesses will need to be alert to the mental health toll of working within these new restrictions, and of changing family demands. Failure to advocate for employee safety and wellness will likely result in a higher number of employees becoming disengaged and looking for a new work environment with a more aligned set of values.