10 Steps to a Respectful COVID-19 Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for businesses and families across the world. We have never lived through a situation affecting the entire globe at one time. As workplaces reopen, we have a profound responsibility to ensure a safe and respectful workplace.

As leaders and employees, we are all in this together and must possess a “team mindset”. It’s all about the team, because without a team to lead, there would be no need for leadership. As leaders, how we address our problems is how we show our character.

During these uncertain times, many of us may be feeling more anxious and stressed than usual and looking for ways to cope. Focus on increasing your mental resilience. Resilience is often described as your ability to bounce back from adversity. Resilience won't make the virus go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past these challenges, cope better, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress.

Our workplaces are the cornerstone of our recovery, so now it is more important than ever to treat all people with dignity and respect. A popular quote by Maya Angelou, validates my thoughts on this subject: “People will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The following are 10 tips to create a safe space, full of respect in and out of the workplace:

1. Wear a mask at work, practice social distancing, and adhere to company guidelines, regardless of your personal viewpoints – that shows respect for others.

2. Embrace a stigma free workplace; learn the facts and don’t spread fear; follow the science and CDC guidelines, especially if you or one of your colleagues test positive.

3. Always consider the impact of your words and actions on others – watch your first thoughts.

4. Practice strategies to counter unconscious bias and cultivate common ground – spend “virtual” time with people different from you; keep an open mind.

5. Respect employee rights and entitlements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), don’t retaliate or get angry for employees taking leave.

6. Raise awareness to keep the workplace safe and accept personal responsibility to display appropriate workplace behaviors .

7. Practice mental resilience to take decisive action and don’t allow problems to languish.

8. If you see or hear destructive behavior at work, say something – otherwise your silence makes you complicit.

9. Practice constructive thinking: remember one’s thoughts produce one’s emotions.

10. Do random act of kindness for others; help others live better lives; focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Carol Flynn is president of HR Solutions Inc and is a subject matter expert in sexual harassment, organizational development and workplace integration. She has over 25 years in human resource management and is a professor and educator with a Master of Arts in industrial/organizational Psychology; life-time certified senior professional in human resources (SPHR); certified EEOC trainer; and past investigative member of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee (FBGC). For further information, see www.hrsolutionsfl.com.

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