Employee Safety + Wellbeing

Step-Up Workplace Safety + Cleanliness Measures

  • Employers are required, by law, to provide a safe workplace for employees. Businesses need to take additional preventive measures to promote a safe, and clean environment.
  • Emphasize the importance of hygiene and etiquette.
  • Post informational documents throughout the workspace. Ensure employees are aware of how the virus is transmitted and what the typical symptoms look like.
  • Encourage employees to cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Provide extra tissue and hand sanitizer in the workplace. Place in multiple locations to promote use.
  • Instruct employees to clean hands often, with an alcohol-based sanitizer (60-95% alcohol), or to wash hands for > 20 seconds.
  • Regularly clean surfaces in the workplace, including kitchens, workstations, and doorknobs.
  • Provide disposable wipes, such as Lysol, so that employees can maintain a clean workspace.

Identify + Encourage Remote Work Options

  • Consider remote work for all employees and establish a flexible approach, while ensuring business objectives are met and performance maintained (A Guide to Managing Your Remote Workers). Remote working should be encouraged when it is possible.
  • Provide employees with the proper tools and training for remote working and virtual meetings (4 Things to Consider When Encouraging Working from Home).
  • If remote work is not possible, consider staggered shifts (Live Examples from Wall Street) to limit the number of employees onsite at a given time. Increase the physical distance between employees.
  • Implement restrictions on meetings and travel. Employees should be discouraged or prohibited from meeting in-person unless required.

  • Travel should only be permitted for special cases, and only when required.

Provide Guidance on Work from Home + Leave/Pay Policies

  • Ensure sick leave and absenteeism policies are flexible and adhere to public health and government guidance. Policies should be readily available and clearly communicated to employees.
  • A Guide to Managing Employee Sick Leave and Absences (Ontario and Canada)
  • Legal Considerations for Sick Leave and Absenteeism (BC, AB, ON)
  • Employees exhibiting any symptoms of illness should stay home until symptoms subside.
  • Do not require employees to provide a Doctor’s note to validate their illness. Doctors are challenged with capacity limitations and the public has been advised to avoid such requests.
  • Provide flexibility to employees needing to stay home to care for sick family members or childcare needs. You may need to revisit sick leave/pay policies and adjust based on extenuating circumstances. Many employees are having to cope with caring for others or their children during school closures.

Designate a Representative to Handle Employee Q+A

  • Ensure the representative is equipped with knowledge and resources to handle employee inquiries (Answers to Commonly Asked Questions).
  • See the above resource for information on a variety of topics including:
    • If my employees are laid off, can they work while receiving EI?
    • If my employees are quarantined, will they be eligible for EI?
    • What is the work-sharing program and how do I apply?
    • Laying off employees: completing the ROE
    • If employees can’t work because schools and daycares are closed, what should employees do?
    • What are the obligations of employees?
  • Stay up-to-date on Government guidance (Government of Canada – Outbreak Update).
  • Stay up-to-date on employee support programs. As of March 20, 2020 – (Government of Canada – Employee Support (EI and Income) + Business Support).

Hiring + Talent Management

Hiring, Onboarding + Training

  • Given the uncertainty associated with our current climate, it may be prudent to freeze hiring until the business impact is measurable.
  • Don’t lose sight of recruitment efforts for key roles.
  • Put in-person onboarding on-hold + facilitate virtual training sessions.
  • All training and development should be conducted virtually.
  • How Other Employers are Responding to Hiring and Training

Refocus Employees

  • Revisit critical employee and organizational goals and objectives. Has anything changed, or does it need to be changed considering the current climate?
  • Ensure changes to goals and objectives are clearly communicated to employees.
  • Promote employee’s success and effectiveness by ensuring goals and objectives are attainable given the potential limitations given the current environment (Best Practices for Managing Virtual Teams and Meetings).
  • Communicate performance expectations. Ensure employees know what is expected of them.
  • Ensure employees have channels to communicate with management and leadership regularly so challenges or issues can be readily addressed.

Re-Evaluate Employee Rewards and Performance Incentives

  • Assess opportunities to provide non-financial rewards to maintain employee morale (Employee Engagement during the Coronavirus).
  • Revisit and revise targets and performance criteria based on business current and near-term business impacts.
  • Revise employee performance incentives once conditions begin to normalize.

Business Continuity + Communications

Plan for Business Impact + Assess Outcomes

  • Evaluate the best and worst-case scenarios and assess the impact on human capital (Harvard Business Review – Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis). 
  • Keep up to date on business and employee support provided by the government (Support Plan for Businesses and Canadians).
  • Prepare for an increased number of employee absences — plan to monitor and manage absenteeism.
  • Implement plans to manage and continue essential business functions based on anticipated absenteeism.
  • Cross-train employees to perform essential functions to ensure the business remains operational if key employees are unable to work.
  • Assess essential functions and evaluate the community’s dependency on your product or service. Be prepared to adapt business practices to maintain critical operations, so the community remains supported.
  • Evaluate ways to retain employees without having to initiate layoffs. Consider 4-day work weeks, the work-sharing (Government of Canada – Work Sharing Overview), flexible unpaid time off, etc.
  • Keep customers informed of business impacts, policies, and expectations.

Review and Share Information Regularly