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Safe Space Solutions Assessment Framework, Segment 3: Engage and Trust

By Dr. Phyllis Horner   Safe Space Solutions

Take a look at most of the reopening tools post-COVID-19 and you’ll see one glaring omission.

Many tools focus solely on making the building safe.  That’s great except they forget the people factor. It’s unrealistic to expect employees and customers to come back in droves, happy to have such great leaders who fixed everything up for them!

That’s not how it works, and you know it too.  Ensuring your workforce, customers and visitors feel included and able to speak up about problems in the new office “normal” are essential table-stakes for every business, no matter what industry or size. Just look at the threatened strikes of nurses, teachers and Amazon warehouse workers, for example.  There is a lot of understandable anxiety and concern about what the “new normal” will bring, and each business needs to have a systematic method to ensure they are fully prepared.

It’s also an important fact that most of the risk of infection comes from individual behavior in the work place, versus the building itself. Therefore, the kind of training, communication, accountability and information that occurs between leaders and their workforce is a key lever of the level of risk that exists.  Put another way, the more good two way communication, the less relative risk, and the less communication, the more risk is allowed into the system.

That’s why Safe Space Solutions (SSS)’ Assessment Framework includes an essential set of measures “Engage and Trust”  to ensure you have a true sustainable doing-business plan.  Because as you have already seen, reopening the first day is not the goal – it’s that your people feel safe over time and as conditions change.

Three themes underlie our research and best practice knowledge base for the Safe Space Assessment.

  1. Telling is not Engaging – The goal of having an Engage and Trust set of actions is so that the great policies, practices, and infection control procedures that are set up are actually followed, reliably. The Safe Space model adds value because it is based on the best practices of engagement and trust-building, and included questions to help your organization assess how well you are doing. These include surveys, kiosks and other methods of finding out how your employees feel and which working conditions enable them to do their best for you.  In addition, connecting the plans to corporate and social values and norms helps everyone feel they are “in it together”.
  2. Trust requires Transparency – of plans and daily stats. Knowing the rules and expectations for work as well as interactions such as meeting behavior, team norms, and social distancing is a basic foundation of trust.  In addition to measuring how you choose to communicate those, the Safe Space Model includes questions about how you communicate building health metrics and infection incidents and trends.  The more people know, the safer they feel.
  3. A safe and healthy work space is a fundamental workplace right. This means that individuals who are more sensitive to the work environment than others should have permission and encouragement to come forward and share their well-being needs without fear of reprisal.

In the pre-COVID-19 work world, often those who spoke up felt like the health concern was “their problem”.  In the pandemic era, that practice is no longer valid.

In the pre-COVID-19 work world, often those who spoke up felt like the health concern was “their problem”.  In the pandemic era, that practice is no longer valid.  It’s clear that individuals can make or break your reopening plan simply by either endorsing and participating, or alternatively refusing to follow the new rules.
So, its essential to build a way to ensure that you’re making it easy for your employees and customers to be heard, even if it makes you try something new or make a new accommodation.

The figure below shows our four-stage framework and the three levels of performance that connect you to a safe workspace and the ability to be an employer of choice post COVID-19. 

If you would like to talk more about your business’ needs at this time, feel free to reach out to us at