Have you ever heard of the term “compliance fatigue?” One interpretation is being tired of following all the rules which have been imposed on us. If you have kids, you understand.

This particular form of fatigue is going to be a significant factor in how well our organizations perform as we begin to navigate down Guam’s road to economic recovery.

Back to normal this weekend?

Beginning Saturday, many workplaces will reopen and accept customers. What do you need to do to prepare?

The Guam Chamber of Commerce has produced “The Safe Six: Workplace Readiness Essentials.” You can download it from their website at guamchamber.com.gu/members. It covers preparing your facility, your team, controlling access, establishing a social distancing plan, in-depth cleaning, and communicating with workers.

Their outline is extensive and once you view it you will know that we’re now in a time when business is anything but normal.

Will we tire of doing the basics?

There will be restrictions on how many people can come into a facility at the same time to allow for adequate distancing, as well as the need for proper sanitation. Each organization should have staff members on top of all this, and supervisors to ensure the work is done.

There’s no doubt it will happen as set forth at the beginning, but what about week three or four? Will the fatigue and boredom of working their way down a long checklist of tasks begin to take their toll on your workers?

Let’s not lie to ourselves

Are we to expect that workers will wash their hands in the prescribed manner – at least for 20 seconds - multiple times per day? Will they wear disposable gloves, and toss them after every customer encounter, particularly if they’re handling money?

In restaurants, will booths and tables be sanitized immediately after a party uses it, and before they sit at the next party?

Will workers wear personal protective equipment at all times, in order to avoid the potential transmission of the coronavirus to customers, vendors, and co-workers? In the case of masks, will these be washable and reusable? If so, will they be washed daily?

And the answer to all this is eventually “no” – and that’s because of compliance fatigue. When people have repetitive tasks to do, it’s human nature to get lazy and begin to cut corners. That will result in more people gaining access than is allowable, less handwashing, less sanitizing, and some workers won’t even wear a mask if they can get away with it.

Will it happen in your workplace?

A post on Facebook this past weekend alerted people about a local pizza shop where employees weren’t wearing masks, and that includes those who were making the pizzas. When the customer confronted one of the workers on why she wasn’t wearing her mask, the answer was she was tired of wearing it and giving her face a break.

Social media will be the island’s watchdog for organizations that don’t do a good job in complying with rules and guidelines. Customers will abandon businesses that fail to ensure their safety and well-being. This will happen long before any government investigators come around.

Nobody wants government intervention or the embarrassment of being called out on Facebook. You don’t want to lose customers. You don’t want those negative images lingering with your name attached to them.

Invest in your front line now

Whether you’re adopting the guidelines from the Guam Chamber or another organization, I’ll tell you what else is absolutely essential – getting closer to the people who will be doing most of this important work. Let them know they play an important role in your plans and encourage them at every opportunity. Ramp up their training. All are major motivators.

I’ve spent years working with both front-line workers and front-line supervisors for many companies on Guam, and have helped put in place realistic plans and procedures to keep those two groups focused and delivering performance that prevents the kind of trouble referenced here.

What I’m advocating will help you fight off compliance fatigue. Don’t wait, make this a part of your strategy now. You and your team will always be glad you did.

Jerry Roberts comments on business and the workplace daily at 7:20 am on The Ray Gibson Show on The Point, 93.3 FM. He can be reached at guamtraining.com, or email jroberts@guamtraining.com.

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