With many Americans now working from home, employers are faced with new challenges, helping to support their staff as they adapt to this unusual situation. As the COVID-19 crisis grows, more employees could find themselves struggling to adjust. They could have financial struggles as family members lose jobs or even mental health concerns as the pandemic looms. By helping your employees, you’re not only making their lives easier but may also be helping your company survive.
Create an action plan
Since this is a unique situation for your employees — as it is for all of us — finding a new “normal” might be difficult. To formalize a process to weather the situation, design an action plan to get your company back up to full productivity. Don’t assume that your staff will automatically know what steps to take to continue being product while coping. Create detailed steps for your employees to help them understand how and when changes will be made and why it’s essential to follow these new processes.
To create a united remote workforce, you might need to use standard working hours so that all employees are online and available at the same time. Setting specific work hours can also improve productivity and allows for better collaboration between departments. When working in a physical location is no longer a viable option, it’s essential that you create the best possible virtual environment for your staff.
If you intend to use video calls for meetings, consider establishing some best practices to promote proper etiquette. When your staff is required to use a new channel of communication, it’s easy for it to be misused. By publishing rules on how to best use video conferencing, you can cut down on employee confusion and increase the rate of adaption.
With your employees working from home, it’s easy for them to feel cut off from the rest of your organization. Your staff can no longer rely on each other in the same they did before. To facilitate a closer relationship between staff and management, you should be communicating with your employees regularly.
This is a time of confusion, and employees could be feeling stressed and anxious about current events. Your communications need to be a voice of reason and honesty for your staff. Having a consistent message repeated often can ease some of the uncertainty around your employees’ new work situation.
To ensure that all of your staff are receiving and understanding your communications, you should take advantage of multiple channels. If you have a company-wide video conference, consider sending a follow-up message to all attendees. These emails can sum up the discussion and open the floor for any questions that might not have been asked. Some employees can be intimidated by video calls and might have a hard time speaking up. By allowing more than one way of communication, your staff can get a second chance to discuss concerns or questions.
While it’s important to talk about work-related issues during meetings, it’s also crucial to check up on your employees’ personal situation. Ask about their home struggles and see if there are any resources available for them to use. Show your employees you care about them as people, not just as workers. This display of kindness can go a long way in boosting morale during the Coronavirus.
The economic state of our country is affecting millions of people, and your employees could be facing difficulties at home. As an employer, promoting a culture of financial literacy can help your employees better educate themselves and prepare for the future.
Even without a financial crisis, some Americans live paycheck to paycheck. It’s important to encourage employees to use all of their available resources to help them adapt. Today, financial institutions offer many resources that can assist members in managing their money. By setting up a checking account with early direct deposits, employees can have access to their cash earlier than usual. This means less time waiting between paychecks and the chance to pay bills quicker.
For employees new to the professional world, you could even offer to host financial literacy classes. Topics including budgeting, planning for retirement, or paying off debt can help employees understand the importance of managing their money efficiently, especially in times of hardship. The financial well-being of your staff also means less stress and higher productivity for your company.
If you have employees dealing with a personal catastrophe, you can go even farther to help as a company by establishing an Employee Assistance Fund (EAF). This type of program works by you and your employees contributing donations directly to the fund. Then employees in need can apply for assistance when necessary. There are many ways to set up an EAF, and depending on how you want the fund to be managed, your organization will have to meet legal qualifications. Once you have your EAF program set up, you should ensure that all employees know that this fund exists for donations and applications. An EAF can also be used for multiple disasters besides pandemics. Employees struggling with natural disasters, financial hardships, or health emergencies could benefit from receiving relief from your company’s EAF.
Take care of your customers
Just like your employees, your customers could also be struggling with their own set of problems. To assist your customer-facing staff, consider helping your consumers by offering special incentives, flexible payment plans, or even discounts for specific products. If your business operations are changing, take the time to communicate with your customers and let them know if your hours are different or if product deliveries could be delayed. No matter how you communicate with your customers, offering empathy in this challenging situation can prove mutually beneficial.
Recovery takes time
Whether you are a large corporation or a small business, it’s essential to look towards the future and prepare for the end of the crisis. This situation is not permanent, and once it is over, you can take time to rebuild your company. Just keep in mind that recovery will not be instantaneous. Instead, it could take significant time to get back to full operation. Even then, workplaces could be changed forever as a result of COVID-19. Employees could still require support even after they return to the office. Take the time to ensure that your staff is safe and healthy since they are your most valuable resource.