As states and districts gradually lift and reduce their shelter-at-home or similar orders, employees who have been working from home are beginning to return to the workplace. Businesses are working hard to figure out the best way to keep employees up-to-date and make sure they feel safe with plans to return to work.
Although there are still many unknowns, one thing that is for certain is that workplaces will never be the same as before the pandemic. HR pros and managers are navigating the “new normal” by coming up with return to work plans that include everything from staying in compliance with new guidelines to what workers can expect in the physical workspace.
Below, we’ve documented how to create a return to work letter to send to employees so they can understand what is required of them and what support and protections they can expect during this time.
What Should the Letter Say?
After a warm welcome back for all employees returning to the workplace, you’ll want to address any changes they can expect to see. Depending on your industry, these changes can vary widely from moving desks around, to staggered shifts, to new cleaning protocols. You can read more about recommended changes to the workplace on the CDC’s website.
Next, it’s important to let employees know what’s required of them. Do they need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks? What should they do if they feel symptomatic? Are you going to be conducting health checks by taking employees’ temperatures? All of these requirements should be outlined in detail in your letter so employees know what to expect.
Finally, make sure to include where employees can go if they have questions or need additional resources. This could include posted signs outlining the new policies, contact information for their health insurance policy and health providers, or letting them know who in the company they can go to with questions or concern.
We created an example of what this welcome back letter could look like. However, the contents of the letter might vary greatly depending on your business’ location, industry, and needs and this example should not be taken as legal advice. That said, based on what we currently know about most shelter in place or stay at home orders, we have put together a starting place for your business to create your own welcome back after COVID-19 letter:
To [Company Name] Employees:
Welcome back to work!
You’ll notice various changes in the way our workplace looks as well as new practices and protocols. We understand these changes may be difficult and we are here to support you. Our goal is to collaboratively ensure you feel safe and secure so together we can navigate the complexities of our “new normal.”
Here are some things we are implementing to help keep our workplace safe and to support you:
- More frequent cleaning and sanitizing.
- Access to hand sanitizer throughout the workplace.
- Access to our employee assistance program (EAP) and other mental health resources (contact HR or [name and email of person to contact]).
- Staggered shifts so fewer people are on-site at one time.
- More frequent communications on our business, projections, new policies and requirements, your health and safety, and measures we are taking to support you and our community.
- New limits on the number of people allowed to gather in rooms, conference rooms, and communal areas at one time (no more than [x] people).
Here are some things we expect you to implement to help keep our workplace safe:
- Go home if you feel sick.
- Wash your hands often, and for the recommended 20 seconds.
- Stay at least 6 feet apart when moving through the workplace.
- You may, but are not required to, wear a face mask or cloth face covering in the workplace.
- Be considerate of your co-workers (remember, we’re all in this together).
- Call, email, message, or video conference as much as possible rather than meet face to face.
- Be conscious and understanding of your co-workers who may be dealing with child care issues, illness or loss of loved ones, financial insecurity, and other issues.
- Speak with your manager, HR, or [name and email of person to contact] if you have questions or concerns.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation, and welcome back to [Company name].
[Name and signature]
[Company Executive signature]
How should the letter be communicated?
The letter should be printed on the official company letterhead and distributed to employees. If you have a modern HRIS like GoCo, you should be able to create a template for the letter that will allow you to automatically insert each employee’s information into it – a huge time saver, especially if you need to include different information for different departments across your organization.
With GoCo’s MagicDocs feature you can create letters as templates, and insert employee info from their profile, so you only have to create the document one time, and don’t have to update it for each employee. With GoCo, you can also make this document available for employees to access on their own should they need to print another copy or reference it for any reason.
If you have questions about how to use GoCo to remotely communicate with your employees in light of COVID-19, contact us. Our team is on standby to help you navigate these unprecedented changes and make the adjustments as easy as possible to keep your business going smoothly.
The GoCo team is working hard to support HR pros through COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more tools and tips.