A COUNTY HR expert says businesses in Worcestershire are facing some key challenges as they emerge from the coronavirus crisis.

Michael Doolin, of Clover HR, said companies need to make sure they get their planning right when welcoming back staff. Mr Doolin said the top five challenges that businesses still have to deal with are:

1) Workforce planning and coping with anxiety: “After more than 100 days of lockdown, those on furlough or previously working from home may be anxious about coming back to the workplace and, if they are using public transport, their commute to and from work.

"As well as providing access to the necessary PPE and safety wear, employers need to ensure they address any employee concerns when planning their return to work. If it isn’t handled appropriately, it could have an impact on an employee’s mental health and cause further issues.”

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2) Making the workplace safe: “Business owners and managers must make every reasonable effort to ensure their workplace is as safe as possible for staff and or visitors.

"Businesses should do a risk assessment to identify what might cause harm and take reasonable steps to prevent it, while following the latest government guidelines on working safely.”

3) Employee and supply chain contracts: “After months of inactivity, e-engaging with the supply chain and re-setting contracts is a crucial step to adapting to the new business landscape.

"Business owners need to assess whether their supplier and staff contractual terms and conditions are fit for purpose. Business owners need to ask themselves, do they provide the business with the means to recoup lost earnings and to adapt to new working practices?”

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4) Remote working: “With almost half of the nation’s employees doing at least some of their work from home during April, many will seek a revision to their work patterns.

"Adjusting to the ‘new norm’ and avoiding a disconnect from company culture and vision will be an important job for employers moving out of lockdown.”

5) Employees refusing to work if they think it is not safe to do so: “Given the impact that Covid-19 has had on the lives of many in the UK, even after lengthy consultation, some employees may feel they are unable, or indeed just don’t want to return to work yet.

"Employers need to listen to employees’ concerns, be understanding and address them directly, by outlining the measures in place to protect them. By doing this hopefully it can be mutually agreed for an employee to return to work”