COVID-19 Pandemic

If you are a business leader during this time of unprecedented change, you're also facing extraordinary challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a tumultuous transformation in the way people live and work. You and your employees will feel its effects for months if not years to come. How can you strengthen employees during this transitional time? Here are several ways to provide support, encourage productivity, and build a strong foundation for the future. 

Show Genuine Care

One of the most important things you can do for your employees is to show sincere caring. Ask your supervisees specific work-related questions about how they're doing, and listen closely to their answers. From there you can ascertain needs and put systems in place that address those needs. The manner in which you ask is important, too. Take time to slow down and carefully pay attention to how you're coming across. There's also never been a more important time for you to tend to your own relational issues so that you can be completely present for others. 

Offer Flexible Arrangements

In order to decrease the chance of transmission of COVID-19, it's imperative that flexible working arrangements be implemented whenever possible. They may take the form of virtual meeting, staggered work shifts, and adjusting common areas to accommodate social distancing. Allowing work from home whenever feasible is a best practice during the COVID-19 pandemic — not only does it curtail person-to-person contact, but it also makes coordinating childcare and practical arrangements easier for your employees. 

Highlight Virtual Development

There are many high-quality virtual employee development seminars, conferences, and mentorship opportunities available now; it's an ideal time to connect your employees with these resources and produce as many as possible in-house. They don't have to be complicated or particularly long; the most important thing is that they provide clear, actionable ideas that your employees can implement immediately. It's best to allow your employees to access virtual development resources during work hours; your company will reap rewards in loyalty and productivity. Highlight the expertise of your employees, too — peer teaching is powerful and beneficial for team morale. 

Adjust Health Benefits

Depending on the flexibility of your group health insurance plan, there might be ways to adjust benefits to help ease the burden of COVID-19 — particularly for long-term employees. Making hospitalization and death benefits complimentary, extending carryover leave deadlines for more flexible utilization, and providing additional health-related benefits and incentives for older employees are a few ways to provide extra support. Providing paid time off for those who contract COVID-19 until doctor release is also a good investment in the safety of your team.

Encourage Wellness

The wellness of employees and the sustainability of a business are inseparable — during this time, that axiom's never been more true. Whether it's providing a stipend for ergonomic equipment, making work hours flexible so that employees can exercise safely during the day, or distributing safety and wellness resources, every action you take to encourage wellness communicates care and will improve employee health. Onsite, it's crucial to make safety measures from the CDC and OSHA regarding distancing, sanitizing, and hygiene part of your everyday procedures. 

Foster Positive Coping

Positive coping and stable mental health go hand-in-hand. Your employees are facing singular challenges; some you may know about, some they may be keeping private. Even if they're not directly affected by COVID-19 in their household, they may be dealing with feelings of loneliness, disorientation, and anxiety. There will be times, later on, to leverage analytics and metrics, develop long-term strategies, and parse data. Now is the time to focus on the "human" part of human resources with support, a listening ear, and empathy in order to encourage positive coping. Your example makes a difference, too. 

Stay Up-to-date

The latest news and best practices about COVID-19 change daily — sometimes hourly. Your employees will trust you and feel more comfortable working for you if you can demonstrate that you're following credible, vetted sources for the best ways to stay safe and move forward, and implementing your findings. Effective communication of that knowledge is necessary; whether it's a regular (and concise) email, announcements at the beginning of virtual meetings, or updates at shift changes, it's essential to make sure that all supervisees are up to speed.

Stay Connected

A big part of staying up-to-date and upbeat is staying connected. While big-picture concerns about safety and sustainability are critical, the little things matter too. Don't forget how personal stories, humor, and small gestures make up a big part of the DNA of work culture; even while making big adjustments, do everything can to inject the personal touch into every interaction. You'll feel more connected, also.

Being supportive during the COVID-19 pandemic is an investment in your business and community. Consider these approaches to help your employees persevere.