Ultimately a safe environment is a two-way street where everyone involved respects the new social contracts that have developed in response to COVID. You can follow all of the CDC’s guidelines and procedures in the restaurant, but if your staff aren’t following the CDC’s recommended social distancing guidelines in their personal life, they can put your restaurant at risk.
Once you have created a response plan make sure that a copy is distributed to all of the employees at your company. Make certain that you leave space for staff to ask any questions. A particularly vital element to your COVID response is making sure your staff know what to do if they are exposed or test positive for COVID-19.
Your Internal Policy Should Include:
Employee behavior expectations
How you will prioritize your employee’s health and safety
Responses to a COVID exposure and/or positive test
Updates to employee benefits from the Family First Response Plan
Process for returning to work
Out-of-state or international travel policy
Local resources for testing
How you plan to communicate any changes, including temporary shutdowns
Your staff must clearly understand expectations of their behavior both inside and outside of the workplace. In the workplace, that starts with distributing a copy of your COVID-19 response plan, and making sure every employee follows your guidelines while working. Outside of the workplace, that means making sure your employees understand how their behavior can increase the spread of COVID-19.
One of the many responsibilities of a restaurant operator is leading by example. Make sure you are modeling the behaviors you want (and need) your team to practice. Emphasize the importance of wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining six feet of distance, and the avoidance of large gatherings. Consider offering virtual restaurant training sessions so that your team can come together to learn the best sanitizing and disinfecting methods and stay up to date on any updates to government regulations.Make sure you outline how an employee should report if they have been exposed and what steps are in place to cover their shifts while they quarantine. Let your employees know how your restaurant’s health and safety measures will been forced, and what the consequences are if they are found putting themselves and others at risk.
Last, but certainly not least, remember your employees have also experienced an enormous level of anxiety and uncertainty throughout the events of this year. Do your best to present your restaurant’s policies and health and safety solutions calmly and make sure you leave the door open for your team to communicate any of their concerns. Reassure your staff that you will support them if they are faced with a diner who refuses to follow restaurant policies and consider hosting virtual office hours to allow your team to check-in with you.
Communication and transparency are essential to creating a safe and healthy restaurant and work environment. It is a restaurant operator’s duty to create a clear plan and share it will their teams, as it is an employee’s job to do their part in practicing proper mask protocols, social distancing and team communication.