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COVID: Building the ‘New Workplace Normal’ - Level 1: Provide a safe place to work

Safety represents the foundation of Maslow’s pyramid of needs, and as such is the first thing a workplace needs to think about. The CIPD, in combination with other bodies like the government, BITD, ACAS and others, has developed guidance for creating a safe place to work for employees post COVID. It includes guidance on infection control, PPE and testing procedures, virtual and remote working, but also importantly how to maintain good mental health.

For this to be successful, we need to learn lessons from the past and recognise that to get employees to successfully adopt new behaviours, they need the necessary skills and knowledge, as well as a supportive environment that makes these new behaviours easy to adopt. We need to treat these new behaviours (handwashing, PPE, social distancing etc) as new habits that employees need to be trained in to ensure they are successfully adopted.

There is a whole science behind habit formation, that includes a full toolbox of behavioural strategies that can help us achieve this. Also, critically, employees must feel fully engaged in the process and see the personal benefits to them, their friends and colleagues. This is not about a ‘tick box’ list of actions or a sign simply put up on the wall. In this new world, we need to convince employees that these initiatives make it safe for them to work and have a culture of shared understanding of what we all need to do to create a safe work environment.

We would love to hear about your experience of trying to change new safety behaviours in the workplace. What do you see the major challenges being? Please get in touch or leave a comment.

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