How are you providing employee support during these uncertain times?
As COVID-19 continues to spread and impact businesses, it’s important to remember that your team is being impacted, too. More than ever, employees need support and encouragement to keep going.
That support is always best when it comes from leaders.
Whether you offer support through an open-door policy, flexible work options, or simply promote wellness resources, doing so shows your team you care about their well-being and success.
Offering appropriate employee support helps your employees stress less and stay healthy because they know you’ve got their back — through thick and thin.
Here’s a look at how you can provide employee support during these unique times.
1. Keep Health and Safety at the Forefront
If your employees can’t all work from home, one way to ease their concerns is to ensure the physical workplace is safe. This can be done a number of ways, but the best way to do it is to ask them directly what would make them feel the safest.
Opportunities to keep safety first include:
- Purchasing PPE gear - Buy gloves, face masks, etc. to keep your staff safe while inside the workplace.
- Keeping cleaning supplies stocked - Ensure employees can frequently sanitize high-touch points often. This includes providing sanitizing spray or wipes to clean phones, doorknobs, elevator buttons, etc.
- Having a discussion on handwashing - If you don’t have a formal handwashing discussion, post fliers up around the office — especially in bathrooms and in kitchens.
- Staggering work schedules - Minimize the number of office staff in the same room or areas at any given time by providing staggered start times.
- Installing hand sanitizer stations - Company-wide, look at where you can install hand sanitizer stations or keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy. Consider installations by entrances, elevators, and outside bathrooms. You may also consider asking everyone to wash their hands or sanitize immediately upon entering your building.
- Offering testing - To help keep team members’ minds at ease, consider offering COVID-19 testing options. This will help ill employees stay home and reduce the workplace spread. If you’re in the Omaha, Nebraska area, TotalWellness offers a variety of COVID-19 testing options.
- Sharing credible COVID-19 resources - Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to learning about COVID-19 and how to reduce the spread. To help employees stay prepared, consider sharing the post “What Should I Do if I Tested Positive for COVID-19?”
By taking all measures necessary, you show your team that their safety matters.
2. Show Empathy
Above all, showing empathy during this challenging time can be encouraging to your employees. Whether they get COVID or a family member gets it, taking the time to help them navigate the challenge shows your company’s leadership cares. Some employees may also feel anxious or overwhelmed by sudden workplace changes and the pandemic in general. Provide them with coping tools and a safe space to talk to help them through it.
Sharing is Caring. Share These Resources With Employees:
- 13 Tips on How to Stay Positive During Anxious Times
- Finding Joy: 9 Ways to Seek Joy (Even When Things Are Rough)
3. Be in Touch
Keeping lines of communication open is crucial for ongoing success for both companies and employees. Whether your team is apart by choice — remote working — or by mandates like state lockdowns, use virtual collaborative tools to stay connected. Some of these same tools paired with others can also keep your wellness campaigns going, too, even if remote! Find options like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to maintain check-ins and get face-to-face moments in.
4. Provide Ongoing Flexibility
As the pandemic has proven, employees have lives beyond work. Whether it’s a loud dog barking obnoxiously during a Zoom call or a child having a meltdown during a conference call, life behind the scenes is making itself known these days.
Encourage your employees to take care of business — personal and professional — how they need to, especially if they’re working remotely.
Let them know they need to stay happy and balanced to do their best work, so sometimes that means hitting pause and taking a break. Let them know how your company is willing to be flexible and then follow through with it when you see an employee struggling.
5. Encourage Mental Health
If you notice your top-performing employees are starting to slip — especially if you’ve transitioned your team to remote work recently — it’s probably time for a check-in.
Working from home has its perks, but it also increases the chance of feeling isolated and lonely. When possible, check-in with your team and schedule group calls to help them feel connected. And if you start noticing performance issues, come from a caring place of concern first.
Additionally, providing useful mental health resources regularly with your employees can help them stay mentally healthy, too. That may mean offering free subscriptions to meditation apps like Headspace or providing in-house counseling services. There’s no playbook for any of this, so doing what fits your culture and employees’ needs may include a bit of a trial and error process.
Mental Health Reading to Check-Out:
6. Offer a Positive Distraction
Now is an excellent opportunity to encourage online training. If your business is a bit slower now due to local lockdowns or seasonal slow times, ask employees to start sharpening their skills. Whether it’s learning a new program you’ll introduce next year, marketing workshops, or general training, it’s a good distraction for workers to focus on.
Connect with industry thought leaders to see what kind of training content they’re sharing with their teams. You can also engage with others in the industry to see where they’re strengthening their team’s skills, too. And don’t forget online conferences and workshops!
7. Be Proactive With Accommodations
If you have a brick-and-mortar location you may require employees to come into, you’ll want to be mindful of reasonable accommodations. When you keep in mind employees who may need extra accommodations, it shows you care about reopening in a safe way, especially for those who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 — like those 65 and older. Get creative and flexible, when it comes to considerations for those accommodations, a recent article published in Human Resources Executive advises.
8. Focus on Wellness
Last but not least, support your team by providing them opportunities to stay well. That looks different for each organization, of course. The need to keep employees as healthy as possible has been at the forefront of most companies’ goals this year.
A few ways to focus on wellness:
- Offer up those mental health days - Let employees take days off when they need to regroup and hit pause. The pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty which has spiked issues like anxiety and depression. Help employees out by letting them take mental health days as needed.
- Open a resource forum - Remote working can be tough for a lot of individuals — especially those who are used to being in an office. Open a forum for employees to connect with one another and share resources that are helpful in achieving life balance and wellness.
- Encourage breaks - Many employees are spending more time working than ever — despite the flexibility that remote working offers. Parents who are now working from home and balancing virtual schooling are logging more work hours in the evenings or on weekends. A recent study also noted school closures and stay-at-home orders impacted working moms but had no immediate impact on fathers’ leave or women without school-age children. Have employees break away from their work stations to meditate, walk, or otherwise unwind mindfully.
Consider sharing mindfulness resources, weekly content (like what you find here on the Employee Wellness Blog!), and words of encouragement to your employees. Let them know that managing their stress and striking a work-life balance is encouraged and welcomed in your company’s culture!
Let Your Culture Shine By Offering Employee Support
Your employees won’t forget how they were treated during this global pandemic.
They’ll remember how your company stood up for them and their health when everything felt uncertain. Those are the employees who will stay loyal and still be standing with you when this pandemic is more manageable, too.
Remember, you can easily offer employee support by:
- Listening - Take the time to be empathetic and connect with your team on a human level.
- Providing resources - Have HR stay connected to your team about the wellness resources offered.
- Focusing on mental health - When you check-in, make notes about how your team members seem to be faring. Regularly offer insight into mental health resources and share your own struggles to show transparency and encourage connection.
- Stay positive - Lead by example by staying positive and upbeat. Be real, but also be positive to encourage your employees. Remind them that a crisis isn’t forever.
- Make wellness a priority - Overall wellness includes mental and physical health. Encourage your employees to make wellness a focus of their lives. Do what you can to make it easily accessible. Offer free fitness resources, provide gym memberships or life coaching opportunities, share virtual health fair content, etc.
Above all, help your employees learn to look forward. Adjust priorities, make time for wellness, and help your team see how you’re prioritizing the employee experience — especially during difficult times — to keep them feeling encouraged and inspired.
Have an employee out sick with COVID? Our free, downloadable COVID-19 Digital Care Package contains everything you need to send them your support and well wishes with ease.