There is no doubt that the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting individuals and businesses on a global scale. Even though there are effective treatment and control plans being developed and put in place by world health experts, large numbers of people are still falling into the all-too-common trap of mob mentality, which is only worsening the situation.

Now, more than ever, it is easy to see the influence that social and news media can have on the population, clouding people’s common-sense and making it so they no longer make suitable and appropriate decisions based on facts. Instead, people are buying into the fear and making the wrong choices. This is obvious when you see the result of people panic buying and hoarding groceries, leaving shelves and supplies empty of essential foods and materials.

Businesses around the world are also suffering at the hands of the pandemic. Many offices are switching to methods of working remotely in order to contain the spread of the virus within the workplace. Unfortunately, businesses without these capabilities are having to run as normal and are seeing a dramatic downturn, causing some to shut down completely.

On a more subtle level however; is the impact that Coronavirus is having within the workplace. Due to fear mongering about the nature and origin of the virus, people are being caught up in group thinking and negative mindsets, which can develop into attitudes and behaviours of racial profiling, or victimisation of those with mild or non-contagious illnesses.

At this time, it is important to refresh yourself on discrimination law, and encourage your employees to do the same, as well as remind them of any policies surrounding equal treatment and proper workplace behaviour, to prevent any complaints being made about bullying, harassment or discrimination, as a result.

TOP 5 TIPS ABOUT HOW TO DEAL WITH THE EFECTS OF CORONAVIRUS IN YOUR WORKPLACE

  • Develop a plan and help morale.

Many of your employees will be feeling anxious and unsure about the situation at hand. It is important that you address the situation in a positive way. Friendly communication with staff is vital. Along with this, make sure you develop a solid plan, so that if you have to react to a more dramatic impact of the virus, the business and the employees will be taken care of. This means testing the capacity to work remotely in the case of a lockdown, and making sure employees are briefed not only about their rights regarding sick leave and instances of self-isolation, but also updates on what actions the business is taking to ensure their health and well-being.

  • Stay away from social media.

The spread of misinformation is almost as dangerous as the spread of the virus. Use common sense and judge everything you read or hear about COVID-19. Official global health bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as government and state health entities are trustworthy sources of information, many ‘reputable’ news sources are broadcasting false or exaggerated information, and smaller sites are writing about anything to get clicks. Staying away from general social media and the wall to wall COVID-19 coverage will help you be informed on just the facts, not the fiction of the issues, and will be more beneficial for your mental health. Encouraging your employees to do the same will help improve the workplace environment as well.

  • Stay on top of workplace misconduct issues.

Just because there is an emergency situation does not mean you should be ignoring matters of workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination. If anything, you should be more vigilant regarding these issues, as heightened tensions within the workplace can increase rates of discrimination and mistreatment. This can be especially true regarding the virus and racial profiling of co-workers, but also any third parties that people interact with both in a workplace and private environment. Continue to remind your employees of proper workplace behaviour and treat any complaints that come forward during this time with the same level of importance as you would at any other time.

  • Workplace hygiene.

The easiest way to limit the spread of the virus is through proper hygiene. The World Health Organisation recommends that you remind, or teach, your employees about proper health etiquette at this time. This includes proper handwashing techniques, social distancing, and coughing and sneezing manners. Putting up reminders and notices about these techniques around your office is also a good idea, as well as making sure there are cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes available for employees to use. It is also important to make sure all workspaces and areas are frequently and properly cleaned.

  • Don’t be selfish.

While it is important to look after yourself and your health during times like these, it is also important to think of your co-workers. They could be anxious and concerned about the situation, or unaware of how to react to the media onslaught of misinformation. Keep an eye out for their physical and mental health and encourage them to go home or talk to someone if they are feeling stressed at work as a result. Along the same line, if you are feeling unwell, it is important to stay home. Going into work may cause you or your co-workers unnecessary stress, or unwittingly spread the virus throughout your workplace.

Utilise these tips to help your workplace and co-workers manage the situations and issues that COVID-19 has created. Spare a thought for others, look after yourself, be hygienic, and stay safe.

For more information about how to manage COVID-19 in your workplace go to the Australian Human Resources Institute’s Coronavirus information page here https://bit.ly/3aYVlHu

If you need to talk to a workplace investigator in regards to any workplace concerns please contact Synergy Workplace Investigations on 1300 664 341.