How to foster a positive and productive "return to work" culture amid the coronavirus pandemic

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

South Africa has lifted a handful of regulations, helping businesses in their quest to keep themselves  (and the economy) afloat. While this is a good thing on the business front, it can leave you, the employer, with concerns on how to navigate a healthy work culture in these “new”, uncertain times.  

Although the economy is slowly opening up again, we cannot forget that the virus is still looming. It is our responsibility to ensure we do everything we can to help lower the risk of transmission. At Nestlé Professional, we value a positive and productive work culture, which will not only help your business reach its bottom line but for your employees to remain healthy, and productive in the workplace.


Read our tips below on how you can foster a positive and productive culture during a pandemic.

Be transparent

Things are uncertain at the moment, and with an overload of information every day about the state of the world, it can cause additional stress. Now more than ever, you need to ensure transparency within the business. If your staff are essential workers and are required to go back into the office, inform them on what will be happening now that they’re returning to work, and what the plan of action is going forward, to put their minds at ease. For example, inform them about new hygiene processes and how social distancing will work now that people will be returning to work.


By informing them on how you plan to ensure business continuity and respect their safety during the pandemic and after, you will lower their stress levels and rebuild a productive team. Keep their concerns in mind as returning to work not only impacts your employees but their loved ones at home as well.

Shift the focus

To combat this storm as a company, you need to change the conversation. Yes, it’s important to know what is happening around the world and to be aware of how that information affects your industry or South Africa. But, be mindful that an overload of information can do more harm than good.


Studies have shown that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted many South Africans’ mental health. People’s emotional and mental wellbeing will continue to take a knock because of the uncertainty this pandemic has brought. For your business to thrive amid the global pandemic, there needs to be a shift in focus. When at work, ensure that people focus on being present. Talk to your staff members and remind them why your business exists, their amazing efforts, how well you work as a team and how fortunate you are to be able to work right now. Focusing on the positive will help remind your team that even amidst this pandemic, there are still good things happening for them.

Celebrate your wins

Take the time to celebrate with your employees. Even those small wins; whether you’ve completed a new exciting project, came up with a new dish, or the simple fact that you’ve made it through another week. Practising gratitude is important right now. People are anxious and may not realise their achievement or wins during a pandemic, so remind them. To celebrate, have a reward ceremony or a delicious Nestlé Professional beverage together, while still ensuring social distancing. Coffee is a great way to engage employees, especially after being away from each other for months. It's the small pleasures that are important right now. Although this won’t change what is happening around the world, it can change your teams perspective and boost morale, which is much needed right now. Creating an environment that not only works hard but celebrates small wins during this time will help motivate your employees.

Listen to your staff

Psychological safety is important in the workplace, more so when there is a pandemic. Create a safe space for your workers to raise their concerns without the fear of judgement or negative consequences. This will ensure you are all on the same page with moving forward, and everyone will understand what is required from them.

Final thoughts

These are challenging times, not only in South Africa but across the globe. Returning to work will never be easy, nor will it be smooth sailing when faced with a pandemic. But, if everyone realises why they are here and how fortunate they are, it is easy to create a positive and productive culture. As their employer, remember to be compassionate during this time and understand that your workers still need to adapt. At NestléProfessional, we care about our clients; whether you want to purchase one of our products for your business or a simple pick-me-up for your employees, we have you covered. Take a look at our Nestlé Professional’s beverage solutions and see how we can help you bring smiles to your employees’ faces.