Six Ways to Support Employees During a Pandemic
The pandemic has been hard on everyone, financially, mentally, and professionally. As a business leader, you may be bottom-line driven, but taking care of your employees is essential. They are the ones who make your bottom line possible and good leaders realize this. Once the health crisis ends, recruiting talent will continue to be a challenge.
The following six actions can be used to ensure employees feel supported and positive about their roles in the company.
1) Listen and Inform
In times like these, being available, helpful, and kind is even more important than in the past. Let your employees know that you are there for them and inform them how they can access all their benefits. This can be done one-on-one or with regular Zoom calls where employees can ask questions and feel part of a team. Ensure employees have the correct contact information for all their benefits. Do not assume employees know what they are entitled to.
2) Provide Psychological Support
Discussing mental health issues openly has become less stigmatized. Talk to your employees on a regular basis to determine how they are handling the pandemic situation, and how their specific situation can be made less stressful. Same tasks may be taking longer to complete at their home office due to various reasons, such as team absences, family obligations, and fatigue.
3) Celebrate Success
Try breaking up work into short term objectives to celebrate success and strengthen team unity, which is even more important with remote distancing. Acknowledge everyone’s contribution, not just the results, which can include a virtual toast, a thank-you note, or a small gift. Staffing should be reviewed to ensure deadlines are achievable.
4) Value Your Employees
Try to decentralize less critical decision-making to a team level, to encourage motivation, creativity, and empowerment. Also, leave and flexible hours should be provided to reduce stress, especially for those with dependants. For example, a standard five-day work week could be extended over six days or compressed to four days. Also, consider reimbursing employees a portion of their cell phone service plan and internet service at home, if required for their employment duties.
5) Encourage Good Life/Work Balance
Remind employees that they are only expected to work their normal work hours and spend the rest of the time with their families or taking care of their own individual needs. Confirm that if an email comes in after hours, that their response is not expected until their next workday. Encourage physical exercise and other activities they enjoy while not working, to achieve good work/life balance. Cost reimbursement may be considered for online yoga, exercise, or other de-stressing classes to relax and unwind.
6) Tax-Free Gifts
Consider non-cash employee gifts of up to $500 a year, which are not taxable, if the gift is not related to performance. Any gift of kindness will be appreciated by employees to get through the pandemic and feel valued.