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Getting Back to Business; Safety & Success Under COVID-19 Lockdown Level 2 Require More than Hoarding Hand Sanitiser

Aug 21, 2020

Faizel Patel – 21/08/2020

(Twitter: @FaizelPatel143)

As South Africa enters Level 2 of lockdown with more businesses opening and people returning to work, Helene Vermaak, Business Director at corporate cultural experts The Human Edge says that we will be needing more than safety masks and sanitiser to succeed.

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announced that the easing of the lockdown level to jump the economy.

Vermaak says the new normal for safe business interaction won’t succeed unless companies adopt a culture of psychological safety.

“A working environment that expects 200% accountability from all employees is required so that everyone takes responsibility not only for their own compliance (the first 100%) but also for correcting anyone else whom they see deviating from the health parameters (the second 100%). Successfully doing business in an ongoing pandemic won’t happen unless people are able to hold themselves and one another accountable, regardless of position or authority.”

Vermaak says having proactive conversations with everyone about safety protocols and expected new behaviours is vital.

Vermaak has provided five points for leaders to implement when creating a culture of accountability:

  • Be kind and remind – don’t be afraid to speak up, this is key to saving lives.
  • Give gratitude, not attitude – when being reminded about following new behaviours or protocols, there should only be one response – “thank you for reminding me” followed by employee compliance.
  • Launch COVID-19 training sessions – teach and model safety protocols and new behaviours.
  • Implement inspections – leaders should randomly walk the work areas to observe the degree of protocol behaviour compliance. The purpose should be to observe, record and convey and not police and enforce.
  • Keep a compliance scorecard – make it public, every day. Regular inspection and public accountability is the way to keep small but lifesaving habits on everyone’s minds.

Vermaak says the health of teams, organisations and communities can be measured by the quality and speed with which people speak up, engage in dialogue and hold themselves and each other accountable.


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