December 22, 2020

How Human Resources Can Help Make Your Business a Healthier Place

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Now more than ever, having a comprehensive understanding of your company’s workspace—where people sit, eat, gather for meetings etc., and how often and carefully those spaces are cleaned and disinfected is vital knowledge for the overall wellbeing and health of your employees, co-workers, and indoor environment

A recent report from ISS facility services highlights the shift in employee concerns: “Trusted spaces will be the new paradigm. Employees will start to question their workplace and the measures that are being taken to protect them and their colleagues. They will start to ask – is the workplace safe?... Will going to work negatively impact my well-being? What new hygiene, cleaning and disinfection protocols are being put in place?...”

As the focus continues to shift towards understanding the cleanliness of workspaces, and we see increased emphasis on perception of clean, as well as increased attention focused on WELL Building standards, it will be incredibly important to make sure HR teams are directly involved as workers return to the office in the next normal.

Human Resource Planning

Bringing your Human Resources team into key discussions that relate to strategic planning for your business, including hiring cleaning services, cleaning equipment choices, developing clear cleaning plans and communication around these procedures, and greater emphasis on employee health, will be incredibly important to the overall success of your business.

Clear human resource planning, that includes on-boarding and implementation of cleaning plans and service providers, is an important way to make sure the safety of all persons working inside a building are addressed.

Not only that but keeping building occupants safe and healthy has an overall positive impact on company culture and productivity, due to the positive correlation between “clean spaces” and the mental health of employees.

ISS goes on to note “Even before the COVID- 19 pandemic, a clean workplace was found to boost worker productivity by up to 5% ...knowing that the workplace is safe and trusted will have an even more profound impact on employees. They will feel the company cares for and supports them, and that feeling generates corporate loyalty.”

Hiring the Right Cleaning Service Provider

The hiring process is key to finding the best fit for your company and this is true for cleaning teams and services as well. Finding a cleaning service provider that matches business values and protocols will make onboarding and implementation go more smoothly.

Finding a BSC or servicer provider whose language mirrors that of your own can help when discussing scope of work, setting clear expectations, and when providing feedback—all things that can be hard to do when there is a disconnect in standards and expectations between companies and leadership staff.

HR can work on exploring this ahead of time determining where there may be potential communication issues, and plan for how to get ahead of these sooner than later.

Or they may decide a company is not a right fit before furthering the interview process or bringing cleaning teams in for demos. This can save a company time and money.

Beyond that, due to the increased importance on clean spaces, Human Resources can work with the chosen service provider to make sure the expectations are set clearly from the beginning as well as communicating any changes when processes must change due to larger shifts within a business.

This allows HR to play a role in checking in on standards but also squashing fears employees might have about returning to work in a safe and healthy environment.

Focus on Safety

One of the most important jobs Human Resource teams have is ensuring workplace safety.

Small Business Chronicle notes “Employers have an obligation to provide safe working conditions. Workplace safety and risk management specialists from the HR area manage compliance with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations through maintaining accurate work logs and records, and developing programs that reduce the number of workplace injuries and fatalities.”

This role can extend much further than the obvious safety compliance issues that manufacturing and industrial companies deal with regularly.

As we work through shifts in perceived building health and safety, Human Resources is a vital part in communicating the latest information, keeping protocol and processes in line with any state or government mandates, as well as playing a key role in developing new procedures for how a business will function in a way that keeps employees safe and healthy.

As we have seen while working through the COVID-19 pandemic, Human Resources teams were really the source of information for many companies. They handled being aware of all updates, communicating those changes to leadership, and then out to company employees.

The focus on safety will extend to changes in cleaning processes and teams too. Keeping HR involved in these discussions and the strategic planning that involves changing how a business works is necessary to employee health and safety. An example being the implementation of health screening for anyone entering an office building, and the role HR played in shifting workers to remote settings, plus monitoring the number of people on site and specific work locations—all things that have had an impact on employee safety.

Not only is HR tasked with getting necessary information and staying up to date for their state and region, but they are also able to supply insight on timelines and information that may be yet to come, stopping a business from making hasty decisions, but instead guiding towards a flexible long-term plan.

Maintaining the Building

In addition to traditional workplace safety protocol, is the ongoing shift in focus to the health of indoor spaces, as they directly impact physical and mental health. These are a continuation of safety issues that have been pushed into the limelight due to COVID-19 but are not likely to go away any time soon.

In recent research, as part of their New Normal series, McKinsey notes that due to the unknowns of COVID-19 and other viruses like it, thinking about future impact is important.

They stress, businesses will need to have long-term plans for how to deal with potential similar situations—specifically because the transmission of viruses like this is so hard to control and predict: “These developments have important lessons for companies: any regime of interventions that they set up cannot ignore presymptomatic and asymptomatic patients. There should be a real focus on facilities and how they are configured.”

Case in point, while working through the complications of COVID-19, understanding the risks associated with having many people in one space became especially important as shown in a recent example noted by McKinsey. Studies revealed the case of an asymptomatic worker who sneezed into an air conditioning vent, spreading the virus to other workers in the building.

Having this type of information available during strategic planning can help businesses safely decide on shift schedules, numbers of people in a building at one time, and even the best placement of where people should be working.

Human Resource teams can even help in deciding the correct types of cleaning equipment to have in a building to help lessen the risk of transmission.

*For example, knowing that a cleaning service provider uses autonomous equipment with Hepa filters, like Whiz, an autonomous vacuum sweeper distributed in partnership by ICE Robotics and SoftBank Robotics, could make a difference in deciding to hire a service.

Autonomous equipment means less people in a building at one time, and with Whiz, the use of a Hepa filter. These filters capture some of the smallest particles of dirt, debris, and even some bacteria, keeping it from being pushed back into the air, potentially stopping the spread of germs.

Company Culture

HR already does a lot when it comes to company culture—they set the tone for workplace expectations when it comes to things like breaks, attire, chain of command. They also work to develop employee benefit programs that meet a company's values and are a source of information when it comes to company protocols, benefits and more.

Not only that, but should an employee experience a hardship, HR often provides information from the business side to help the employee navigate the problem.

Job Network points out “They not only lend their expertise and experience to help deal with whatever the issue is, they can also be real advocates and allies during a difficult situation.”

The point being HR is often aware of what employees are going through and has a better idea of what is happening with company culture.

It is important then to include them in decisions that impact the company culture and going forward this includes decisions around cleaning. Their input will be necessary, as making employees aware of increased cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting can help create a more positive atmosphere.

Bringing the act of cleaning into the spotlight, instead of keeping it behind scenes, will play an important part in assuring employees that the work environment is indeed safe.

Increasing the connection between employees and cleaning processes, protocols, and cleaning teams can help build company culture not only by alleviating stress due to worry about getting sick but having the right cleaning team on site can also make a positive impact.

Human Resources and Future Business Planning

Making sure HR is part of strategic planning has many benefits. According to ISS Facility Services “HR provides support for the changed workplace through people analytics. With access to critical data on each employee, HR can provide organizations with intelligence about employees’ experience and level of engagement to recommend effective responses.”

HR teams bring with them the necessary knowledge related to creating positions, adding employees, how big the pool of qualified candidates may be, realistic timelines for hiring and onboarding, and so much more.

By including HR in strategic planning, a business will have a better overall idea of the capital it will take to grow their company, a more proper timeline, and specifically what employees are looking for in a company. “HR improves the company's bottom line with its knowledge of how human capital affects organizational success,” according to Small Busines Chronicle.

Afterall, gaining qualified, experienced talent requires most companies to consider what a future employee wants out of a job—if they want them to stay and grow, that is, and most companies do, as it means employees with knowledge of the business who stay longer.

ICE Robotics is a leader in the floor cleaning equipment industry and focuses on people-first collaborative cleaning solutions. For additional support and services contact our Client Care Team.

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