The HR profession has never been so essential to business continuity, or so busy. HR teams worldwide have already stepped up to the challenge of enabling remote working, helping shift to a digital-first world, arranging furloughing, dealing with downsizing, supporting line managers, holding performance conversations and much more.

For many, there is now a new set of priorities: how to assure a safe, smooth and sustainable process for bringing staff back into the workplace.

The issue is not just the planning, challenging though that is. There are expert resources available to help with identifying requirements and scoping out solutions. The key is in the execution, in ensuring all those involved know what they need to do, and that they do it.

Ensuring everyone plays their part is a challenge that is familiar to anyone in HR, and where task list automation makes a huge difference.

Using Cezanne HR*, for example, HR teams can create multiple task templates, each with their own set of activities, participants, and timelines. Starting a new event, such as bringing a group of employees back to work, triggers the automation, notifying those involved of their specific responsibilities and deadlines. This could mean that:

  • each employee is sent a ‘welcome back’ message with links to documents to read and e-sign if required
  • IT and facility managers get a list of time-defined activities they need to complete, and
  • relevant line managers are reminded to book in one-to-one conversations before and after each of their team members returns to the workplace.

Since all tasks are kept in a single system, it is easy to track progress and chase up if needed. Key steps are less likely to get overlooked, essential communication is simpler, and everyone saves time.

Five essential COVID-19 task lists to automate

With so much on their plates already, the last thing HR or senior managers need is to waste time chasing up to make sure critical activities have been completed. Here are five task lists we recommend for automation.

Return to work risk assessment

The first step in bringing staff back into the workplace is a risk assessment. Alongside the physical workplace, this must take into consideration the specific circumstances of the wider workforce, including employees, temporary workers and contractors – such as cleaners or maintenance staff. Can employees travel to work safely? Do they or their dependents have special circumstances that need to be considered? Are any employees in ‘at risk’ groups?

A task list template that can be adjusted and reapplied – perhaps to reflect an update to the government guidelines, a change in an employee’s circumstances or the need to onboard new staff – is essential, and thought needs to be given on how to collect the information, how to secure it and how to keep it up to date.

Bring staff back to work

Another area where HR tasks lists can be enormously helpful is in coordinating a safe return work for employees. This could range from triggering general communication about what steps have been taken to assure their safety, to specific information for selected employees, such as staggered start times and, of course, automated notifications to other staff – such as IT or facilities management – that need to be involved.

Staff reporting symptoms of COVID-19

It’s also important to have a plan in place should an employee – or anyone else present in the workspace – report that they, or someone they have been in contact with, have symptoms of the virus and/or have been tested positive. Task lists should cover who needs to be notified, as well as what actions need to be taken. For example, does extra cleaning need to be arranged, other staff asked to self-isolate, senior managers notified? Can staff work from home during self-isolation, and if so, who should be informed?

Onboarding new employees

Employees joining your organisation for the first time are likely to need more reassurance – and possibly more paperwork – than was the case in the past. For example, together with organising the usual checks, such confirming right to work or taking up references, you’ll need to consider at what point should new recruits get safety training, sign up to policies aimed at safeguarding the wider workforce, or be introduced to their teams so they can start to build trust?

Alongside ensuring paperwork is processed at the right time, and that appropriate facilities are in place (see no contact, no desk, no thanks) automated task lists can help ensure that HR, line managers or nominated mentors reach out to new joiners on a regular basis in the run up to their first day in the work place – and afterwards. This will help allay anxiety and create a great – and lasting – first impression that has been shown to boost engagement and productivity.

Managing redundancies

For many organisations, the economic slowdown means there will be no choice but to make redundancies. For some, the process has started already. Of course, making employees redundant should never be a check list exercise. Kindness and compassion are essential. But, when redundancies must take place, having a well-defined process in place will help ensure appropriate steps are followed, and the relevant people notified.

Where staff voluntarily move on, task lists are equally valuable. They can, for example, be used to remind colleagues to arrange exit interviews, calculate final pay, ensure the return of company assets, re-route emails, and shut down security credentials.

Where we work and how we work is dramatically different than in the past – a situation that is going to continue for some time to come. Digital tools that help HR teams better support their organisation and their people are both more essential and more valuable than ever.

To learn how Cezanne HR’s Cloud-first HR software can be an essential part of your HR team, and your HR strategy, contact us today.

*Task manager is part of Cezanne HR’s integrated Onboarding and Employee Lifecycle Management module. Learn more.

Sue Lingard author image

Sue Lingard

Sue studied Personnel Management at the London School of Economics before taking on management roles in the travel, recruitment and finally HR software industry. She's particularly interested in how technologies enable HR teams - and the people they support - to work better together.

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