Six best practices for getting state and local government agencies back to work
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across the United States looked to their state and local governments for guidance on how to navigate COVID-19. Now, with more states looking to—or currently in the process of—reopening on a larger scale, businesses are turning to state and local governments for safety and compliance assistance while striving to maintain accurate and efficient operations. At the same time, as state and local governments have concentrated on helping their constituents, those agencies that turned to remote work and have not yet returned to the office may have overlooked preparing their own offices for a safe and efficient return to work.
Like many organizations and institutions, state and local government agencies were greatly impacted by the pandemic. The public sector found that the ways in which work was done had also changed at some level. For example, at the height of the pandemic, 74% of state and local government employees worked remotely, a jump from 24% of employees who worked remotely in 2019.
While helping their local communities open safely and efficiently, there are best practices that state and local government agency leaders can implement before their employees return to the office, if they haven’t already done so.
Eliminate common surfaces to increase employee safety
Prior to the pandemic, common surfaces such as timeclocks, elevator buttons and door handles were used by employees throughout the day without a second thought. But now, there are concerns about these common surfaces and cross-contamination.
Particularly in the case of leveraging timeclocks, agency leaders may want to use technology, such as barcode or proximity badge-reading clocks that enable employees to perform touchless operations. Mobile apps that allow employees to check in on their mobile devices may also be an option to reduce any cross-contamination concerns. By implementing solutions that eliminate, or greatly limit, shared surfaces, agency leaders can ensure employee peace of mind.
Trace and identify potential symptoms and exposures
As companies increase safety measures such as temperature checks, government agencies can leverage technology that collects and tracks employee temperatures, helping leaders identify when an employee may be too ill to work. Additionally, stored location information can be used for contact tracing and make agency leaders aware if employees may have been exposed to a colleague showing symptoms of COVID-19. With this technology, agency leaders can be proactive in containing any potential spreads while prioritizing employees’ health.
Leverage surveys to facilitate employee well-being
Although the primary role of state and government employees is to serve constituents, it’s important that their own well-being is considered. Agency leaders should routinely gauge their employees’ demeanor and how they are physically feeling to improve working conditions and mitigate any concerns. By asking questions related to exhibiting symptoms of illness, surveying employee morale attitudes and ensuring that workplace safety policies were respected, leaders can engage in real-time feedback to improve the work environment.
Change schedules quickly
As more offices open, agency leaders should keep in mind that employees will need more flexibility in the coming months, especially if more employees become ill. If agency leaders determine that there may have been an exposure from their contact tracing efforts, they can quickly adapt schedules to ensure shift needs are met while being considerate of employee health. Some technology solutions allow agency leaders to run real-time reports of current schedules, enabling them to rapidly adjust schedules and notify employees of any changes quickly and efficiently.
More than ever, it’s critical that government agencies maintain compliance with the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA), especially if an employee or employee’s family member falls ill. Agency leaders can implement easy-to-process-and-approve solutions that allow employees to draft customizable cases and submit requests for approved absences, and summary and detail reports for these requests. These solutions enable leaders to tend to constituent-critical issues.
Mitigate and manage inefficiencies
To create smooth operations, agency leaders must mitigate and manage any inefficiencies while prioritizing a safe workplace. Leaders may think about investing in technological solutions that enable them to track, analyze and measure inefficiencies that range from period totals and breakdowns to leave and accrual balances and scheduled shifts. These solutions give agency leaders the power to understand where improvements can be made quickly and efficiently.
The “new normal” caused by COVID-19 has forced leaders across all industries to look internally at their workplace policies and determine where improvements can be made. Now is the time for government agency leaders to implement best practices and policies that prioritize employee safety and well-being. By investing in technological solutions that mange compliance-related tasks or taking stock of the systems that are currently in place to determine how to get the most value out of them, government agency leaders and their employees will have more time to better tend to constituent needs.
Eric Thurston is the CEO of TimeClock Plus, a market-leading workforce management software company. Eric was previously the President and CEO of Personify, a constituent management software provider.