Guidelines for Employees in a Pandemic World
How to Adjust Your Staff Training Program & Ensure Workplace Safety
In 2019, the hospitality industry was the 5th largest employer of people in the United States, at 14.64 million people. Between 2010 to 2019, the restaurant industry alone has employed millions of people, reaching a whopping 13.49 million in May of 2019.
Even though Covid-19 has required the restaurant industry to lay off 5.9 million employees, as bars and restaurants begin to reopen, employees are being called back into the workplace. Albeit a much different workplace than what they were used to before the outbreak.
To keep customers safe, restaurants and bars have adapted to new on-site guidelines, such as restricted capacities, takeout and delivery services, and outdoor-only seating. Additionally, employers have had to adapt to keep their employees safe through new employee health and safety rules and regulations by implementing proper safety and hygiene practices in the workplace.
Employers must provide health training for restaurant employees by educating them on risk factors and preventative measures to take (especially if any symptoms develop), training them through various demonstrations, and monitoring their symptoms and health.
It is important that as consumers we understand that employees’ safety is just as important as our own. Every day that restaurant and bar workers go into work, they are risking their health to serve us. Make sure you show gratitude, support your local businesses, tip well, and respect their health as much as you do your own.
As this is uncharted territory for everyone, it is crucial to keep safety as the number one priority for both customers and employees. Below, we will discuss employee health guidance through several training tips and guidelines to help keep your employees as safe as possible while working during Covid-19.
Tips and Guidelines for Employees During a Pandemic
Implement New Training Policies
As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization continue to learn more about Covid-19, new resources on how to properly train your employees are constantly being developed. Through training videos and online resources, there is an abundance of information out there.
So, how do you sift through all of this information and educate employees on these updated health regulations? Staff meetings with regular updates and demonstrations on best practices are a great place to start.
Staff Meetings and Regular Updates
Restaurant and bar staff are accustomed to daily meetings at the beginning of every shift. These meetings can still be held each day, but there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure the safety of all staff members. All employees should wear a mask and maintain 6 feet of distance between one another.
As the world continues to learn more about Covid-19, we are constantly receiving more information on how to handle things from both the CDC and the FDA. As the owner of a bar or restaurant, it is your responsibility to stay up to date on the latest guidelines for employees working within the food and beverage industry to maintain their safety as well as the guests. If you find any new information or guidelines that need to be put in place, let your staff members know during staff meetings.
PourMyBeer Tip: Try and keep the meetings short and to the point. If there is a lot of important information that needs to be said, type it out and print enough pages for everyone to grab at the start of the meeting. This will provide the staff with all the necessary information for their shift and they won’t need to take any notes. You can also host your staff meetings virtually. Employees may feel safer with this option as they can join from the comfort of their own home.
Demonstrations of Best Practices
It’s no secret that people absorb more information through visual learning. In fact, this style of learning increases retention by 29-42%. So why not use this learning tactic when teaching your employees?
Consider implementing demonstrations before your staff members go back to work. For example, make sure you show the proper handwashing technique before staff members start cooking food or serving customers. Also, make sure your staff members are aware of the correct way to wear a face-covering – covering both their mouth and nose with their mask.
You can even make signs and posters (or use the graphic below) once you’ve completed these demonstrations. You’ll want to place posters that encourage hand hygiene to help stop the spread at the entrance of your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are most likely to be seen by staff members.
The demonstrations are designed to help show employees how to be as safe as possible not only for themselves but also for the customers. Because after all, safety is the number one priority for everyone.
PourMyBeer Tip: Keep in mind, not all of your employees may speak English as their first language, so be sure to include signage with graphics that can be understood by all working in your establishment.
Checklist of Safety Guidelines for Employees to Follow
Now that your bar or restaurant can operate at full capacity, there are several things to consider as the operator when it comes to keeping customers safe. But, it is equally important to keep your employees just as safe. That is why we have created this checklist so your employees are aware of the health and safety precautions to take when going back to work, before starting their shifts every day. This checklist will help to keep your employees as safe as possible.
DOWNLOAD OUR Employee guidelines CHECKLIST BELOW!
Either email this sheet to all employees or print multiple copies to hand to every employee before their shift. Have them grab a pen and start checking off the guidelines as they go.
Employee Health Monitoring Recommendations
Update Health Policies, Guidance and Regulations
One of the most important safety precautions to take when reopening your business is to constantly monitor employees’ symptoms at the start of each shift. You want to make sure they are not only healthy and able to work, but also that there is no chance of infecting other employees or patrons. Before each shift, the staffs’ temperatures should be taken with a non-contact thermometer and noted on a designated employee temperature chart. This way, you can see if there is any change among temperatures of employees and you can see who may be starting to show symptoms.
Along with that, if any of the employees, including you, show symptoms of Covid-19, you must get tested immediately before returning to work. It is also crucial that you do not go back to work while you’re still waiting for your test results in the chance that you are infectious.
If any staff members are concerned about an existing health condition or disease, this may fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This requires operators of bars and restaurants to provide accommodations to meet the needs of these employees. Also, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires some employers to provide pay to employees who are on sick leave. Make sure as an employer that you are aware of these accommodations.
Symptoms to Look For
As mentioned above, you want to monitor your employees for any signs of Covid-19. Below is a graphic that clearly shows the symptoms to watch out for.
The three biggest signs of Covid-19 are cough, shortness of breath, and fever. However, in 80% of patients Covid-19 only causes mild symptoms, so make sure you are constantly updating yourself and your employees on the most recent symptoms as defined by the CDC.
If your employees seem fine, but they live in a household with someone who has tested positive for the virus, they must notify you immediately and follow these CDC recommended guidelines.
PourMyBeer Tip: It is important that both you and your staff members are aware of these signs and symptoms. Print out this graphic to hang around common workplace areas to remind workers of the symptoms.
How to Handle Positive Cases
Knowing how to respond when an employee tests positive for Covid-19 is crucial. If you don’t respond fast enough, it could spread even further. So let’s talk about what to do in the event that one of your employees tests positive for Covid-19.
First, you’ll want to check these workplace outbreak guidelines to see how to handle a positive result within your business. If an employee does test positive, you will then want to immediately tell them to self-isolate and not come into work. Then you will have to completely disinfect your establishment (wait 24 hours before cleaning) and test all other employees.
Next, you’ll have the employee who tested positive track their symptoms from the start to end, to ensure that they are not still showing signs of the virus. The CDC has created easy-to-follow guidelines for employees returning to work after contracting the virus.
For employees who tested positive, you’ll want to use a symptom-based strategy. The symptom-based strategy is as follows: at least 3 days have passed since recovery (no fever, cough, or shortness of breath) and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first started.
For employees who tested positive for Covid-19 but were asymptomatic, you’ll want to use a time-based strategy. The time-based strategy says that 10 days must pass since the date of their positive test result (assuming that no new symptoms have developed).
Although there are certain guidelines and time requirements in place, these can differ from case to case. Check out these Public Health Guidelines by the CDC to assess what the best solution is.
Adjustments to Safety, Hygiene and Cleaning Practices
With safety as the number one priority, adjustments to cleaning practices within your bar or restaurant are necessary. The biggest adjustment, if you have not done so already, is to check that your cleaning products are on the list of disinfectants that kill Covid-19. You can look at the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of approved cleaning products to determine if your products are safe to use. Once you have determined that they are on the list, follow the proper instructions (found on the label) to make sure you are using them correctly.
Place hand sanitizer stations around the workplace. Not only will this keep employees safe and reduce the spread of germs, but it will also remind them to consistently sanitize their hands.
Make sure that the sanitizer in your establishment has at least 60% alcohol to kill all germs.
Sanitization of High-Contact Items
Employees need to clean everything that the guest touches to reduce the spread of germs even further. High traffic items need to be cleaned regularly and consistently. For example, items like the check covers, pens, and tables must be cleaned thoroughly. And, areas that employees touch regularly must be cleaned as well, such as workstations, keyboards, handrails and doorknobs.
Keeping Staff Safe and Healthy
Staff protection in the workplace
Now that vaccines are readily available, it is your choice as an employer to decide if you require that your staff gets vaccinated. Unvaccinated workers should be required to wear a mask at all times.
The graphic below demonstrates how to properly put your mask on and take it off. Print this out and hang copies around your establishment so employees will have access to it. Make sure you stay up-to-date with your local mask mandate.
PourMyBeer Tip: In most states, employers can choose if they want their employees to wear masks. If it is a requirement in your establishment, have disposable masks readily available to your staff members. Make sure they are aware of the correct way to put a mask on and how to take it off (as shown above). If you have masks readily available, staff members will be more inclined to throw away their old (potentially contaminated) masks rather than reuse them. You could also supply staff members with cloth masks that have your establishment’s branding on them. However, if your employees are wearing cloth masks, make sure they are cleaning them after every shift.
Flexibility of Hours and Shifts
Since social distancing slows the spread of Covid-19, as an employer, you will want to stagger your employees’ hours and shifts. If you think about a typical busy Friday night at your bar or restaurant, you may have had at least 10 servers working within a close proximity. Now, with this new “normal,” you will need to cut down the number of staff working together to reduce the amount of contact between employees. Also, you’ll want to enforce new guidelines when employees take their breaks. Encourage distancing between your employees – don’t allow them to take breaks in the same area and have them try not to touch each other’s phones or other belongings just in case.
As an employer, you’ll also need to take into consideration the fact that you may have employees who are vulnerable workers, meaning they are at higher risk of contracting the virus. Make sure your employees know to notify you if they need any accommodations. And if you are a vulnerable worker, ask your employer to assign you duties where your contact with the customers and other employees will be much more limited.
Mental Health and Stress Management
With all that is going on in the world due to Covid-19, the thought of returning to work can feel overwhelming, especially for workers within the hospitality industry. It’s important as an employer to understand your employees’ feelings of fear and stress as they return to work for the first time in months.
To make your employees feel more comfortable, look at these tips to build resilience and manage job stress among employees. And, make sure that you are a source of comfort for your employees. You want them to feel safe, emotionally and physically. So don’t be afraid to let them know that you’re there for them, you want to support them, and you’ll accommodate their needs.
Guidelines for Employees With Self-Pour
If you are part of the PourMyBeer family, there are a few guidelines that your employees can follow to keep your self-pour establishment as safe as possible. As self-pour beverage walls grant some serious freedom for the customers, they’re also able to provide some independence for the staff as well during Covid-19.
Since guests pour their own drinks, the server already has less interaction with the customers than at a traditional bar, keeping it safe for both the staff and the customers. But, in an effort to reduce the number of interactions even further, the host/hostess should ask guests as they arrive whether they plan on ordering food and drinks or only drinks.
If they are not going to order any food, hand them a red sign to place on their table. This will signal to the server not to walk over to their table. If they are going to order food, give them a green sign, which will signal the server to go over and take their order. Think of it as a traffic signal – red means stop, green means go.
You can get more creative with it as well. Think outside the box and come up with fun ways to be safer!
Employees can also take several preventative measures to not only maintain the safety of the guests but also their own.
Have employees wipe down all taps and screens as often as possible, to eliminate the spread of the germs and to show that you are being proactive in front of your customers. These are high traffic areas with many customers touching them, so be sure to clean them.
Also, encourage your patrons to stay safe when using tap handles by providing tissues or gloves for them to use – ideally both! Simply let your community choose what makes them feel the safest.
In the event that patrons who are infectious come to your establishment, all of the safety precautions listed above should help reduce the spread of infection.
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As businesses start to reopen, we want to help you stay as safe as possible. Whether you’re reopening your bar or restaurant and need a checklist for opening your doors, need help developing your COVID-19 strategy, or need safety guidelines for employees discussed in this article, we’re here to help you with it all.
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*The recommendations above have been written to the best of our knowledge after interviewing our customers and conducting research from reputable sources, such as the CDC, WHO and FDA. We advise you to visit their websites to stay up to date on the latest guidelines.*