Return to Work Top Ten Considerations

Posted On May 12, 2020

A Return to Work Strategy that Supports Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity

The COVID-19 crisis offers companies and corporate leaders a unique opportunity to reorient priorities and practices to create more inclusive, equitable, and diverse workplaces as we move forward with hope for the future that lies beyond this difficult time. Across the active-outdoor industries, we must craft return-to-work strategies that thoughtfully reflect and accommodate the strikingly diverse ways in which employees from various communities have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your Top Ten Considerations

At Camber Outdoors, our goal is to help you devise an inclusive and equitable Return to Work Strategy that meets the needs of a diverse workforce. That’s why we’re providing the Top Ten Considerations below, a set of guiding questions that will help ensure that your Return to Work Strategy is strategically sound, actionable, and inclusive.

 1. What is the optimal composition of the team that will devise a Return to Work Strategy: who should be included? How does my plan address rapidly-changing — and often conflicting — federal, state, and local guidance on re-opening? Does my strategy allow for flexibility in the face of ambiguity, new information, and shifts in market dynamics? How can I design a process that allows for rapid yet sound decision-making?

 2. How does my Return to Work Plan ensure the readiness and physical, mental, and emotional safety and well-being of my customers and employees? Does the strategy reflect employee or other input on this question?

 3. Does my company provide equitable benefit plans that meet the needs of a diverse workforce during and after the Return to Work transition? Does it reflect input from employees on benefits they view as most valuable?  What changes are needed?

 4. How does my plan address the new reality of the need for a more decentralized and/or flexible workforce and workspace? Remote work? Flexible schedules? Modifications to physical space? Is my strategy shaped and informed by feedback from employees?

 5. How do I ensure that my company has the talent needed to succeed in the marketplace as it is being redefined and reshaped by COVID-19? How do I prepare and train my current workforce to be able to thrive amid new economic, marketplace, and workplace realities? (Upskilling, reskilling, etc.) Does my talent acquisition strategy reflect new marketplace demands, evolving economic realities, and changing consumer expectations? (Inclusive recruiting, hiring, onboarding, etc.

 6. COVID-19 has had varied impacts on a strikingly diverse population, with the pandemic affecting employees differently depending upon their ethnic backgrounds, gender, socioeconomic status, marital status, family structures, disabilities, health profiles, etc. What steps are you taking to ensure that these diverse needs of your employee population are reflected in your strategy?

 7. How can I build and sustain an inclusive leadership and culture? Are my leaders at all levels equipped with the necessary tools to lead employees who have been impacted by the global pandemic in disparate ways? What tools are available to help cultivate an inclusive culture (ERGs, Mentoring, other tools)? How do these tools need to be adapted to reflect new realities, challenges, and opportunities? Does my current portfolio of inclusion, equity, and diversity programming create and sustain an inclusive culture? Are changes needed?

 8. How does my Return to Work Strategy ensure business continuity given the dynamic, complex, and ever-changing nature of the pandemic that could result in further industry contraction? How does my strategy provide direction to the organization on managing industry contraction (layoffs, furloughs, etc.) and expansion? What are the tools and systems needed to address operational and people issues?

 9. How can I ensure effective internal and external communication of my company’s Return to Work strategy to employees, consumers, suppliers, partners, and communities? Does my strategy include two-way communication? What mechanism enables my company to efficiently and effectively gather employee input and feedback before, during, and after the return to work transition?

 10. The global pandemic has disproportionately impacted specific groups in the form of:
– Systemic race- and class-related economic and health disparities in Black and Brown communities;
– Intensifying bias, racism, and violence against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders
– Disproportionate economic and health effects on women, whose jobs tend to be concentrated in sectors at greater risk of contagion, layoffs, or furloughs.

What should be my company’s response to these disparities? What is the experience that I want stakeholders to have with my brand in an environment in which consumers are increasingly focused on an organization’s commitment to social impact, sustainability, community engagement, etc?


Brian Shaughnessy

About Brian Shaughnessy