Written by: Sarah Haley
If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic taught the world, it’s the importance of health. Although the risk of contracting COVID-19 has decreased significantly from the start of the pandemic, that doesn’t mean we are out of the clear. COVID-19 may be coming to an end, but viruses aren’t.
As the world starts transitioning back to normal, the risk of acquiring other microbial infections will rise. The chances of becoming sick with a bacterial or viral infection like the common flu or cold will increase as the world opens up. That is why it’s just as important to maintain good health and safety measures now as it was during the peak of the pandemic.
The increased sanitation efforts that were a consequence of the pandemic have additionally resulted in a variety of positive effects for human health. An article written by the BMJ on The positive effects of covid-19 stated that Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California has “seen a sharp decline in paediatric admissions for respiratory illnesses.”
If anything, this new normal of increased sanitation and greater emphasis on health should be considered a better normal. Not only will this new normal help keep sickness at bay, but it will also keep loved ones safe. Future continuation of these practices will ensure that customers, staff, family, and friends are kept healthy and safe at all times.
It has always been critical for businesses to maintain a safe working environment, but the past year has forced businesses of all sizes to adapt to new sanitation and safety protocols. Even after the pandemic is forgotten, businesses should continue to provide a safe environment that promotes health to allow customers to feel comfortable and welcomed.
Multiple surveys have been completed since the beginning of COVID-19 that support the point that health and safety are here to stay. A Deloitte survey showed that “82% of customers feel that companies willing to take extra steps to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees “must be in place” or “would make [them] more likely” to visit a business.” A survey by McKinsey & Company showed that 79% of consumers will increase their usage of self-checkout after COVID-19.1
The fact is the world will never be the same as it was before the pandemic. The mindsets of people have changed, and businesses will need to adapt accordingly.
Here are 5 ways that retailers can ensure staff and customers stay healthy in the long-term, even long after COVID-19 is forgotten.
1. Maintain a clean and safe environment
To have an efficient working environment, it needs to be clean and safe for both your customers and staff. All workplace hazards should be noted down, marked, and explained to employees. If there are any chemicals, cleaning solutions, or other potentially harmful substances, they should be labelled accordingly and stored properly with all tops or lids secured.
Any shared workspaces should be regularly cleaned or sanitized to eliminate any microbial growth or spread. Additionally, cleaning should remain a priority as the restrictions lift and store limits increase in order to ensure clients and staff are always safe.
2. Provide proper training for employees
When you provide your employees with thorough and extensive training, you are preparing them for any outcome. If there are hazards or any risks of job-related injuries, employees should receive hands-on training to ensure their safety. In addition to the hands-on training, employees would benefit from a written copy of instructions that they can reference if they feel uncertain or need reassurance.
By providing detailed training for employees, you are improving company culture and promoting employee productivity. Survey results from a 2019 report published in The International Journal of Business and Management Research revealed that 90% of employees either agreed strongly or agreed that development programs and proper training improved their overall job performance.2
Good employee training helps to establish trust within the work team, and also helps customers feel protected. When the employees know how to handle any given situation, it assures any clients that they are in safe hands.
3. Promote open conversations
An open conversation is considered to be an interactive situation where any individual can freely ask open-ended questions in a supportive environment without fear of judgement.3 Open conversations are critical for learning and growth, and also help create a friendly environment.
If staff feel like they can have an open conversation with their superiors, they will be more likely to communicate when they are sick or mentally unwell to work. If staff feel comfortable asking for time off work when they need it, it will help to eliminate the spread of sickness and provide a happy and healthy work environment.
When customers feel like they can have an open conversation with management or employees, it helps to build trust. Once trust starts to be built, long-lasting relationships can begin to form between businesses and their consumers.
4. Encourage good hand hygiene
It’s no surprise that good hand hygiene helps to promote a healthy work environment. Hands are part of a complex system of infection transmission pathways, and proper hand hygiene helps to eliminate any infectious disease spread. Gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses are commonly spread through the transfer of germs on our hands.4
The importance of hand hygiene will remain long after the pandemic has passed. If there is not a sink with soap in the workplace that employees and customers can use, hand sanitizer is a great alternative. A hand sanitizer dispenser that is touchless and automatic is optimal because it eliminates any further transfer of germs while also being more accessible for those with physical disabilities.
The Triden True lineup of dispensers are touchless, automatic, and made from stainless steel. Not only do they provide a more accessible and safe mode of sanitation, but it also eliminates plastic waste and is a sustainable alternative that helps you save money.
5. Emphasize the importance of health
Leading by example is one of the most vital leadership qualities. Leaders have the ability to guide a business or nation in either a positive or negative direction. A good leader knows to lead with both their words and their actions.5
If you want your employees and customers to feel healthy, you have to empower them to prioritize health.
Prioritizing health doesn’t just mean having good insurance coverage, it means fostering a work environment that supports healthy living. This can be achieved by implementing company policies that enforce healthy working hours and coffee breaks throughout the day. In addition to this, having weekly or bi-weekly team bonding activities and workplace health programs will help to create a healthy work atmosphere.
A healthy work environment is the key to a happy work environment. When customers and staff feel supported and safe, they will be more inclined to work harder and revisit.
By implementing these healthy work environment strategies, you will help avoid future risks and keep your business safe for anyone that walks through its doors.