WISH for essential workplaces: Strategies and resources

Strategies and resources for focusing on working conditions

Physical environmentreduce the risk of transmission

  • Increase ventilation of fresh air and use high-efficiency air filters
  • Install physical barriers or use a drive-through window for interactions with customers (related article
  • Mark acceptable social distances (6 feet) with tape on the floor at check-out counters
  • Provide personal protective equipment (ex: gloves, masks) and ensure workers know how to use them correctly (related information)
    • Provide workers with materials and instructions to make their own masks if the organization is unable to procure 
  • Encourage employees to change clothing before leaving work, to limit the chances of bringing the virus into their homes
  • Provide soap and hand sanitizer to employees, and display instructions for hand washing
  • Sanitize work areas frequently
  • Clean equipment and tools (more information)

Organization of work

  • Adjust how schedules are set
    • Implement “block scheduling”divide your group into teams who work only with one another to limit the number of people a worker is exposed to 
    • Schedule staff to work fewer days each week (ex: 3 12-hour days/week)
    • Stock shelves during hours when a store is closed, to limit staff interaction with customers
    • Provide notice of schedule changes in advance so employees can plan accordingly and balance job and home responsibilities
  • Ensure consistent and regular breaks, be flexible with break times, and ensure frequent hand-washing breaks; consider increasing the number of breaks, which can reduce fatigue and increase productivity
  • Establish or enhance paid sick leave policies, to encourage those who are sick to not come to work

Psychosocialincrease social support now and after the crisis 

  • Provide managerial support
    • Ask how workers are doing; provide opportunities for them to share concerns
    • Recognize the efforts and dedication of workers regularly
  • Increase availability and awareness of resources (ex: EAP, meditation apps)
  • Address work/life issues with staff
    • Increase availability of backup child care
    • Allow for flexible hours, when possible
    • Encourage working offsite when appropriate with needed technical support
  • Communicate as much as possible and be transparent about reasoning behind decisions

Strategies and resources for participation    

  • Provide opportunities for employees to share ideas about increasing safety and health, and express their own concerns about safety and health at work
    • Hold daily team huddles, each with a focus on a specific issue related to working during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Be available for one-on-one conversations
    • Create a suggestion board (real, virtual, or in other creative ways) that everyone can contribute to and view
    • Be open to hearing concerns about potential sources of increased risk
    • Ensure employees can report incidents without fear of retaliation
  • Get input from workers about how to put new policies into practice. Having workers contribute gives them a sense of ownership and helps relieve the burden of managers to find solutions by themselves
  • In one-on-one and group conversations, ask workers three questions:
    • What’s going well, and what could be improved?
    • What about work is impacting your health positively and negatively?
    • What can the team/unit/employer do to help your health and well-being during the pandemic?

Strategies and resources for comprehensive and collaborative strategies    

  • Establish a joint worker-management task force with representation from different departments/areas of the organization and levels of employees
    • Provide consistent messages and best practices about COVID-19 across the organization
    • Create opportunities for different areas of your organization to collaborate and learn from one another
    • Learn from best practices implemented in other organizations
    • Coordinate efforts to reduce duplication and increase efficiency
  • Adopt strategies from other organizations in your industry (See a list of "industry-specific guidance" on our COVID-19 resources page)  

Strategies and resources for leadership commitment

  • Use reliable sources, like public health organizations, to inform your decision-making and communications with employees
  • Set an example by ensuring all leadership and managers follow safe practices, including using sick leave when appropriate
  • Act on employees’ concerns. This demonstrates to the employees that you care about their safety and health, and this may also help build trust and boost morale
  • Communicate clearly about the policies and practices you are putting into place to protect worker safety and health during the COVID crisis. 

Strategies and resources for adherence   

  • Learn about your state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, so you can ensure you are following local requirements and recommendations (state health departments)
  • Update policies so that all employees can receive paid sick-leave
  • Protect employee confidentiality and privacy when reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases while maintaining transparency about exposure

Strategies and resources for data-driven action     

  • Determine ways to measure actions taken and the outcomes. Consider the following outcomes:
    • Social distancing
    • Limiting employee infection rates
    • Prevention of employees coming to work while sick
    • Lessened emotional or financial stress
    • Reduced conflict between work and home
  • Make data collection as simple and fast as possible by using data you already have
    • Employee sick-leave data
    • Existing surveys
    • Monitoring work hours or schedules
  • Quickly gather new data through brief informal discussions or surveys during check-ins or via email