As we try our best to return to normal by going back to the office, there are a few extra precautions employers should consider before holding out-of-office gatherings with their employees.
Make Out-Of-Office Events Voluntary
Although we all recognize the benefits that out-of-office events bring to employee morale, employers must be careful in the age of COVID-19 if they make out-of-office events mandatory or leave employees with the impression that failure to attend will be frowned upon. Employers must recognize that there still may be employees who are afraid to attend such events.
Thus, it is critical that, to the extent an employer wants to invite employees to out-of-office events, these events must be voluntary.
Consider Holding The Event Outdoors And Encouraging Masks
As we are seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases due to the quickly spreading Delta variant, an employer wishing to hold an out-of-office event should strongly consider holding an event that can be done in an outdoor environment. Also, with new CDC Guidelines being developed almost weekly, employers should monitor CDC guidance and consider requiring masks at their event. At a minimum, employers should ensure that no-one is discouraging attendees from wearing masks.
Seek Employee Feedback
Employers who are leaning towards indoor events or events where masks will not be required should strongly consider seeking employee input regarding those choices. Although federal law may not mandate that an employer limit its events to outdoor environments, or require masks at events, employers should consider the concerns, if any, raised by employees on these issues when making decisions about such events.
It is also important to remember that not all employees are comfortable voicing their opinions on these issues in a group setting. Therefore, employers should also consider asking managers or supervisors to have private conversations with employees regarding planned events and be flexible enough to consider changing the events based on the feedback they receive.
At Feldman Kodsi, we remain available to discuss any of these issues with our clients and to help them plan future events in today’s ever-changing environment.