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How Employers Can Support Their Workforce in the Time of COVID-19

As the world faces an unprecedented public health crisis, business owners and employers all over the world are confronted with a multitude of challenges. From keeping their companies operational to cutting their losses, business owners have grappled for solutions to what feels like a never-ending list of threats and challenges.

Employers also have to be able to support and help their employees. A post-COVID-19 study shows that 91% of employees are concerned about the transition to remote work and how it will affect their productivity, collaboration, and work-life balance, 72% of respondents expressed anxiety about losing their jobs and not being able to receive paid leave if they contract the virus, 65% said it is their organization’s responsibility to provide emotional support during the pandemic, and 55% believe the company should also provide mental health resources.

No matter how big the business, employers have a responsibility to their employees. But more than the legal reasons, bosses also have a moral and ethical duty as leaders to show support and provide help to their employees during this difficult time.

Here are some ways you can support your team in the time of COVID-19.

Provide a clean and safe workplace.

If your business requires on-site work, make sure that you are adhering to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and similar state laws that obligate employers to provide a safe and healthy working environment to their employees. In the time of corona, employers must do all that they can to reduce the risk of infection among their employees and to help lessen their anxiety and stress from the fear of getting infected.

Company owners should ensure that the workspace allows for a distance of six-feet between employees, that there are alcohol-based sanitizers available in different areas of the office, and that the common spaces are disinfected regularly.

Encourage telecommuting as much as possible.

If your employees can do their work from the comfort of their own homes, then consider permanently transitioning your entire company to a work-from-home setup. Experts project that COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future, so we’re going to have to live with the possibility of more lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in the future.

Make room for flexibility.

Not everyone’s home life is the same. And with the school closures across the nation, your employees must surely be adjusting to their household’s new normal too. Assure them that as we are all navigating these new circumstances that there is room for them to adjust. Be clear about the new policies in light of the pandemic, but give them opportunities to voice out their concerns and let them know that they can speak freely and honestly.

If they need leeway for their deadlines or if they need to have their hours reduced, let them do so. Knowing their boss has their back may boost morale and help increase their productivity in the long run as well-being and productivity are intertwined.

Offer financial help.

man shaking a woman's hand

The realities of the pandemic may be hard on employers, but company and business owners enjoy a level of wealth and privilege that their employees may not. Employees may find themselves needing support financially, whether it’s for paying hospital bills or repaying mortgage lenders, and employers must come up with a plan to provide their workers with some practical assistance.

Talk with human resources and devise a plan to help employees escape exorbitant debt in the face of the worst recession this century has seen.

Foster genuine connections.

Employers are not just business owners; they are also leaders. The mark of a great leader is how well he or she leads in a crisis. Here are some ways you can help employees know that they are supported during the pandemic:

  1. Schedule a virtual hang-out time outside of official meetings and work hours. Keep it short and sweet, as research suggests that video call fatigue is real.
  2. Check-in on them from time-to-time. Ask how they’re coping with the new work setup and if there’s anything management can do to help.
  3. Initiate a group fitness video call and exercise together.
  4. Encourage them to seek professional help if needed.

People First

There is no denying that COVID-19 has been hard on the whole world. It has been hard on the economy, and every business in the world — big and small — took a hit in one way or another. But we have survived a pandemic before, and we will do so again. At the end of it all, what will matter is how we took care of each other, especially those who are under our supervision and care. Keep your employees engaged by showing them genuine care and concern and allow this people-first mindset to carry your business through this difficult time.

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