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Return To Work

How to Reset Your Safety Climate Post-COVID-19

Aug. 25, 2020
Teams that take time to think it through will have fewer challenges as a return to work accelerates.

As the crisis situation evolves, we should now be thinking about how to address what has happened as many are beginning to return to more normal routines, but still within a changed business climate. It is important to consider how things will be different post-crisis and how leaders will talk about this in a meaningful way with each other and with their teams.

As we enter a period of stabilization, an opportunity for leaders to calibrate on the path forward presents itself. Teams that take time to think this through will have fewer challenges as a return to work accelerates.

At my company we suggest leadership teams plan to lead “post-crisis debriefs” where important things are said and discussed:

I THANK YOU: Say, “Thank you for what you have done to keep yourself and others safe during this time of changing exposure,” and share a few examples you have collected.

I AM WITH YOU: Recognize that people we know and love have been lost due to this virus, and the sense of loss happening now and that we will continue to support one another going forward because we care for each other around here.

WHAT I LEARNED TO DO DIFFERENTLY: Acknowledge that during the busy and stressful COVID-19 response planning, there are some things that you missed or should have done differently in hindsight. Speak about those things learned.

I HEAR YOU: Solicit, listen to and hear about the experiences of team members and how they are doing now and what they might need from you and their colleagues. Debrief what worked, what didn’t, and what successes really stood out.

WE ARE RESILIENT: Together going forward point out that we are collectively changed/different, and as we go forward together we will make the world better through the important work that we do. I am privileged to work with you all and am humbled to stand alongside such safe and professional colleagues.

This is a time not to push “urgency” but rather to foster engagement, caring, connectedness, and support one another across hierarchical levels, knowing we are all in this together, and that the team will be stronger having worked through this difficult time. Take care in planning your regrouping and re-boarding, and this will show employees that you understand what has happened to them, and convey your deep respect for their tenacity and resilience as the safe professionals they are. Onwards!

David Musgrave is vice president, consulting leader with DEKRA, a provider of testing, inspection, certification and consulting services. He leads the Brain-Centric Reliability practice area focused on human performance reliability.

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