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The pandemic has hit organizations very differently. Learn how you can manage to improve the wellbeing stamina of your workforce as we navigate a course through this extraordinary global challenge.
The outbreak of Covid 19 has impacted the businesses negatively in terms of challenges for profitability and business continuity. The most precious asset of all businesses i.e. the workforce, however, has been exposed to severe challenges for their incomes, mental and physical well-being, and even financial survival.
Increasing automation during covid 19 has also led to a high turnover rate that has simply worsened the unemployment situation caused by the pandemic. Amazon is just one example of how high attrition during covid 19 has affected the frontline workers in the company. According to one analysis, turnover in front-line workers at Amazon are double compared to retail and warehousing industry during a similar period.
These challenges are equally disturbing for HR departments of all businesses as they are navigating uncharted territory and that is quite unprecedented. They are trying to cope with situations in devising strategies for managing the well-being of their workforce during the pandemic. Here are some measures which all employers must consider implementing in their businesses for keeping things under control.
1. Making a holistic well-being strategy:
Covid 19 has taught us a great lesson. It is “Employees well-being should not be seen in parts. It is damn serious and must have a holistic approach.
- Every company needs to be employee-centric and a comprehensive employee well-being program covering all aspects like social, physical, mental and financial well-being must be its integral parts.
- It is crucial that executives’ buy-in and support must be obtained before officially launching such a program.
- Communicate the program to all employees and ask them to give feedback.
- Amend the program according to the needs and suggestions of the employees.
2. Ensure the safety of employees:
Among all the challenges posed by COVID 19, the safety of employees is and should be the topmost priority for every employer. Lots of measures can be implemented in order to provide maximum possible safety to employees in order to avoid getting infected by the virus. These include pre-work checking of temperature, provision of masks periodically, sanitization, increasing hygiene and maintenance of high-quality cleanliness in the work area, washrooms and canteens, etc.
In order to keep the workforce safe, social distancing in the workplace and meetings must be adhered to strictly. This must be meticulously observed in elevators and all places where people need to stand in line like punching the attendance card and canteen counters etc.
The World health organization has issued certain guidelines to keep the workplace ready for covid-19. Some salient points are given below, which every employer must implement;
- Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers at prominent places.
- Display posters promoting handwashing.
- Promote good respiratory hygiene at the workplace.
- Brief your employees that they need to stay at home if covid 19 breaks in their community and they even have a mild cough or low-grade fever.
- Ask your employees to consult National travel advice before going on a business trip.
- If there is an outbreak of Covid 19 in your community, promote organization-wide regular teleworking to keep your business operational and your employees safe.
3. Keep them motivated:
The stress and pressures that employees face during the pandemic arise from constant fear and impact employee’s confidence level and morale negatively. They need to be kept motivated and engaged for better productivity and a positive mental attitude. A recent Harvard Business school survey asked 600 CEOs what is keeping them awake during pandemic nights and almost with consensus, they replied that it is the concern of how to keep employees motivated. Most of them are doing it through
- Transparent communication
- Flexible work arrangements
- Reduced working hours
- Arranging sessions from motivational speakers and counselors for their employees.
- Caring for employees on a personal level.
- Promoting the culture of teamwork and collaboration.
- Helping team members learn by sharing the best practices.
- Get rid of unmanageable and heavy workloads for employees. The company will see fewer incidences of employee burnout and the company will be considered as a second home.
- Consider offering employees a workspace improvement stipend for equipment upgrades, dual monitor setups, etc. Providing constructive performance feedback and ample guidance to help navigate the new work situation
- Invite them for a virtual coffee using apps like Lead.
Communication is the key for motivation and precise updates on state regulations and guidelines about preventive measures must be communicated to all employees.
4. Revisit the employee’s benefits programs:
One area where employees of the companies have been hit hardest is their finances. The decrease in their income level does not allow them to cope with their financial responsibilities in a proper manner as their purchasing power is affected adversely. Financial stress is resulting in anxiety, sleeping disorder, and health problems of employees (migraines, muscular tension, and insomnia, etc.).Fortunately, many employers are paying more attention to this and are offering.
- Counseling on debt management, saving for retirement, and budgeting to their employees. Also educating them about the significance of emergency funds and creating one.
- The revamping of employer-sponsored benefits programs and financial assistance are some of the measures, corporate leaders are taking to address the issue of financial wellness of their workforce.
- The financial wellness tools are also being used by many and employees are being encouraged to use them.
- Employers are also evaluating the current and future needs of their employees and adapting their financial wellness programs to those needs.
- Subsidizing the lunch cost while working.
5. Managing mental well-being:
Mental health and emotional wellbeing of employees during covid 19 is also very important and employers must try their utmost to ensure that they are emotionally and mentally fit to cope with this pandemic. Here is how companies can manage;
- Providing guidance about making their houses and transportation safety.
- Make technology like Headspace accessible to employees for keeping themselves emotionally fit.
- Helping employees cope with anxiety, fear, and other emotional disturbances by providing access to licensed counselors. Chevron has started a company-wide mental health program for its employees and made self-guided resilience resources available to them.
- Communication on well-being periodically. The Culligan water sends weekly self-care videos to all its employees and makes weekly well-being communications with employees. This is a good way to encourage them to pause, get some rest, and allot time to refresh holistically.
- In case an employee needs extra service, the employers should provide bereavement and counseling services.
- Mobilizing internal resources and network on mental well-being.
- Providing an inclusive work environment.
6. Workplace guidance for staff working from home:
Most of the staff of businesses have been asked to work remotely from their homes during this pandemic. The employers must provide such employees guidance and support for establishing the workstation set up, in-house safety measures, and maintaining a good work-life balance. The Queen’s university of Belfast is one organization that has responded to the needs of remote workers positively and has provided them comprehensive well-being guidance. Some of the measures taken are as follows:
- Providing necessary equipment and infrastructure to employees.
- Guidance on taking breaks and exercises for well-being.
- Arranging youtube webinars for remote employees to discuss issues related to physical and mental well-being.
- Tips for sitting postures during work.
One very important tip for employee’s mental well-being is to provide them ways and means to connect with other colleagues. This is required because long isolation results in frustration and may impact the mental health of employees negatively. Many companies are providing technical solutions through which the employees can connect and engage.
Many arrange virtual video meetings where employees connect with others to mitigate the impact of social isolation. The other very important way to show concern for employee’s well-being is to communicate with them frequently. Many companies have launched a central contact point or Hotline for this purpose.
7. What can Managers/supervisors do?
Being a caring employer one must guide their managers and supervisors to play as role models to staff under their domain.
- They need to be emphatic and check in with their direct reports on regular basis.
- The managers should listen to their subordinates patiently.
- They must encourage the staff to ask questions.
- Managers must check in with those employees who are affected by Covid-19 within short intervals.
- The supervisors should not be overbearing.
- Make the day of your direct support by sending them digital acts of kindness.
- Respect the time boundaries of your direct reports and try to keep the meetings short and to a minimum.
- Employers should provide training to managers and supervisors regarding developing necessary skills for a productive conversation. The companies that don’t have enough budgets for training may take assistance from employee’s mental health resource groups that provide solutions at low cost.
The Covid 19 outbreak has taught a great lesson to all employers and it is “Investing in employees wellbeing a plan is not only desirable. It is now a must-do thing for the best utilization of human resources to boost the growth of the business. Other precious lessons the pandemic has taught are;
- Not to view the employee’s well-being in separate constituents. Rather go for a holistic approach.
- Keep your communication channels open and spread all your employees’ well-being plans across the organization.
- The well-being program must be made on the basis of employees’ needs and wants which must be intelligently identified.
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