Preparing for the “The New Expectation”

Consumers are closely watching the actions of your employees, using the information to gauge the safety of your organization amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to COVID-19, the phrase, “the new normal,” has been seared into our vocabulary, shaping our vision of a world overrun by the extremely small, yet devastating, novel Coronavirus.

The phrase did a good job of encapsulating the mindset that life as we know it has irrefutably changed. Now we need to take the next step and prepare our organizations for what I’ve coined “the new expectation.”

The public’s high expectations—including those of our customers, employees, and tenants—must shape the response of all who provide products, goods, and services. For example, consumers are closely watching the actions of your employees, using the information to gauge the safety of your organization. Consumers correlate what they see your employees doing and your organization reinforcing with the mitigation information streaming around them 24/7.

Employees are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping their work environments safe. If they know how to do their jobs safely, then chances are everyone around them will be safe, as well. Look around at your employees and ask:

  • Are my employees practicing the recommended social distancing guidelines set by the organization?
  • Are my employees consistently wearing transmission mitigation equipment, such as face masks, face shields, or gloves, provided by the organization? And, when wearing the equipment, are they using it properly?
  • Does my facility display the proper signage and markings required to help keep the virus in check?
  • Are my employees knowledgeable about the risks and do they take these risks seriously?

Based on your answers to the above questions, you will quickly know if your organization can deliver the safe experience that your customers expect. The more you meet, and exceed, your customers’ expectations, the better positioned you are to navigate the uncertainty inherent in the new normal.

The new expectation is more than an employee and public health issue, it’s a revenue and brand concern, as well. Health and safety are more than being “compliant” with regulations and guidelines—you need to exceed those guidelines to provide an exceptional level of safety to your customers and employees. Exceeding expectations gives comfort and builds trust— positively impacting loyalty and helping prevent them from giving one of your competitors a shot.

This is precisely why educating employees is one of the most important, proactive steps an organization can take in light of the pandemic. What has changed? Organizations such the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are looking beyond their traditional, compliance-based focus to emphasize keeping businesses clean, disinfected, and sanitary.

Providing employees with as much retainable knowledge as possible is imperative for organizations in the new normal. Organizations are investing in technologies such as e-learning management systems and virtual meeting rooms to prime teleworking employees with the information they need to not only stay safe but communicate safety.

Organizations value quality more than ever even as they look for shorter, more succinct content with an unmatched user experience. Delivering information that has been vetted and verified is critical to establishing a process that employees can embrace; reinforcing the message in multiple formats and digestible bits helps build the consistency everyone is looking for.

First impressions are everything. In essence, the market has been reset. Effectively training employees will be a deciding factor in how quickly, and safely, our economy recovers. By protecting the well-being of all by exceeding what is expected in compliance and business operations, you prime your organization to be the marketplace leader in a world of “new expectations.”

Eric Glass, senior risk and safety advisor at UL, advises customers on risk management, loss control, and safety experience. He is an OSHA outreach trainer and advises companies on the design of advanced risk management and safety programs. In addition, Glass provides insight for workplace safety training and software development and contributes to UL’s Fire and Electrical Safety Audits.

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