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Managing your team in the new normal

It’s important for owners to talk to their staff about the process of returning to work. We are in unprecedented times and being transparent with your staff will be key on getting them onside for the re-opening of your boutique.

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With non-essential retail set to open from next week (15th June), many boutiques are preparing risk assessments, finalising cleaning procedures and communicating with customers. It’s important not to forget your staff. They will often be the first point of contact when a bride-to-be walks in, so they are integral to the success of your shop in the coming months.

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) work with millions of employers and employees to facilitate positive workplace relationships. Here is their advice on how to work with your employees as you open in the new normal.

Discussing plans with staff

Employers, employees and workers should talk as early as possible about any plans to return to work.

It’s a good idea to talk about:

  • when staff might return to the workplace
  • how staff will travel to and from work
  • how health and safety is being reviewed and managed – you should share the latest risk assessment
    any planned adjustments to the workplace, for example additional hand washing facilities, staggering start and finish times to avoid overcrowding or floor markings to help people keep 2 metres apart
  • if there might be a phased return of the workforce, for example some staff returning before others
    working from home arrangements

Wherever possible, employers should speak to staff before making a decision or putting plans in writing. This can help staff understand, and feel included in, decisions.

Changes that might affect someone’s employment contract

If there are any proposed changes that affect the written terms of someone’s contract, the employer must consult with the employee.

If you are implementing changes to employee contracts, ACAS has advice on this here.

Worried staff

There is a real possibility that a member of your workforce will not want to return to work.

This may be because of:

  • worried about catching coronavirus
  • at high risk of getting a severe illness if they catch coronavirus
  • caring for children
  • living with someone who is ’shielding’

You should encourage staff to talk to you about this and try to find a way to resolve the issue together.

Examples of solutions could include:

  • offer extra car parking where possible so that people can avoid using public transport
  • keep someone on furlough if they’re temporarily unable to work
  • arrange for someone to work different hours temporarily to avoid peak time travel or accommodate childcare arrangements

If a team member still does not want to return to the shop, you may want to allow the indiviual to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave. It’s important to note that you (the employer) does not have to agree to this.

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