Preparing for tier 4 in the workplace

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As London and most of South East England will enter into a full lockdown over the Christmas period, and other regions may face harsher restrictions in the weeks ahead, people professionals may be facing sustained challenges in supporting employees.

For those unable to work remotely, guidance maintains that you can still leave home to work in tier 4.

However many businesses, including those deemed ‘non-essential’ retail, hospitality venues and accommodation, will also be forced to close putting them under further economic strain.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is one organisation that has rallied to urge further government support for businesses in affected areas.

On Twitter, CBI chief UK policy director, Matthew Fell wrote: “It’s right the Government takes steps to protect public health - but new restrictions in the South East will be a kick in the teeth for struggling businesses.

“Support is available but a fresh look is needed in January at how government can support businesses through to Spring.”

The challenges for people teams in this time will be how to continue to support employee’s mental and physical health, and ensure they have all adjustments in place to ensure they can continue with work where they can.

Prior to last national lockdown, 43% of UK workers had flagged that they felt at risk of burnout throughout the winter months,

Speaking to HR magazine Siobhán Sheridan, chief people director at the Ministry of Defence, said the main things she will be focusing on in her organisation are peoples’ basic needs.

“Early on in the COVID crisis I asked one of my military colleagues how they keep going when times are tough on Ops. He said to me that he always tries to remember that as humans we all need three things: A sense of purpose, something to look forward to and someone to love,” she said.

In addition to reinforcing peoples’ sense of purpose Sheridan said she would turn her attention to making sure that people, where possible, have the time and space they need to focus on loved ones.

She also said it would be important to consider that, though everyone is experiencing the pandemic at the same time, everyone’s personal situation is different.

Highlighting the rise in calls to domestic abuse agencies and mental health support lines, Sheridam added: “I am particularly concerned about helping people to maintain their mental fitness, and thinking about colleagues for whom ‘home’ is not the safe haven that we would want it to be for all sorts of reasons.

“Ensuring that people are signposted to sources of help and support and that we do the right thing according to people’s individual circumstances is critical.”

Further reading:

Government extends furlough yet critics warn more job support needed

How can HR teams support their employees’ health during the winter lockdown?

Three-tier coronavirus system needs to be united with government intervention

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