The COVID-19 pandemic has been an overwhelming time for everyone. Business owners have had to make unprecedented decisions, and keeping employees on board has been a main concern for many. It is a difficult season in our nation’s history, and employees are likely concerned about job security and safety at work. Workers may have specific things that they want to see their company doing. Most of these requests deal with extra sanitation measures and flexibility during this time like no other.
1. Make Work-From-Home Options Available
Some jobs cannot feasibly be done from home. Many desk jobs, though, can be transitioned into a work-from-home position. Some employees may prefer to come to the physical office to do work, but you can at least make this option available to anyone who needs it. Many people who are medically compromised still need to work, and being able to do tasks from the safety of one’s own home is worth a lot. Employees will likely feel better about working for a company that offers flexibility even after the shutdown.
In order to make working from home reasonable, you can have certain requirements. These might include maintaining regular work hours, having proper internet connection and only using a company computer to get work done. You can also ask that employees try to minimize distractions while doing certain tasks like video conferencing with clients.
2. Host Interactive Meetings
If your office is able to work remotely, coworkers will still likely want to communicate with each other. It can be helpful to host daily or weekly meetings where employees can share anecdotes and fun things that have happened throughout the week. You can take turns mentioning something positive that has happened at work and at home. For example, you can mention that you have found Young Living Essential Oils that keep your house smelling great and that you met your personal work goals for the week.
At work, employees are able to get to know each other by talking about non-work related things on breaks. It is important to still let this happen naturally, as you do not want people to feel that work is no longer fun or interactive. Consider letting the last 15 or 20 minutes be a quick checkup to see how everyone and their families are doing.
3. Assess Each Employee’s Situation
Every employee is just as unique as the job he or she does. Therefore, your company may not be able to use a one-size-fits-all approach to managing expectations during COVID-19. Some employees may have relatively low risk of having serious health problems from the illness, while others may be in a very high-risk population. You should look at each person’s situation objectively and make case-by-case decisions. For example, workers over the age of 65 may be asked to work from home while younger ones asked to come into work with added disinfection measures in place.
To gauge how employees feel about coming into work, you can send out an anonymous survey. Employees can select if they would prefer to work in the office, at home or with a hybrid schedule. This will give you a good idea of what the common consensus is. This gives people a place to express concerns without worrying about being judged.
4. Allow for Flexible Time Off
Employees should not have to wonder if they will still have a job if they contract COVID-19. There may need to be some changes in your time-off stipulations, and you should understand that employees may need to have time off to recover from COVID-19 or to take care of a family member. Never compromise the safety of other employees and clients just to have someone return to work sooner than they should. Every precaution should be taken to minimize exposure at work; ideally, temperature should be checked as each employee arrives to work.
Vacations may look a lot different this year as offices open back up. Many people may not be able to take trips as planned. However, you can still honor an employee’s vacation time and allow him or her to take off the time that he or she has earned. Just spending a few days at home with the family not worrying about work can be important for refreshing the mind.
5. Keep Staff Communication Open
Staff may get restless if they feel they do not know what the company’s plans are moving forward. While there are many things that are yet to be decided, it is important that employees are alerted about any important decisions. Managers should strive for open communication with workers even if it means telling them that things are still uncertain. Staff will likely appreciate the honesty, and it will help cultivate a workplace that is efficient and informed.
You can assign a certain manager to each employee who keeps them up-to-date about what is happening. In this way, every staff member has a go-to person if there are any questions about reopening and future plans. Having an advocate for each employee is an important step in making the right decisions moving forward with reopening.
6. Address Childcare Issues
Many childcare centers have closed during the pandemic, and many working parents may not have anywhere for their children to stay during the day. If one of your employees has this situation, try to remain as flexible as possible with work scheduling. Allowing the parent to work from home can be beneficial. You can also let the employee work half days so that they can coordinate childcare schedules with their spouse. While you understandably need your staff at work and on task, you must make some exception for circumstances that are out of their control.
7. Show Sincere Concern About Each Employee’s Health
Anxiety may be high about returning to work and managing daily life with a global pandemic happening. Employees need to realize that you genuinely care about their health. They should not feel that they are just there to make the company money. When you show concern about each employee’s situation, you show employees that you value them as a person and not just a number. This can translate to a better work ethic throughout the office even after the pandemic ends.
While you should not pry too much into personal health matters, there is no problem with telling employees that you hope that they are staying well along with their families. You can offer to be a listening ear to anyone who needs to talk about personal struggles during the pandemic. You can even share some of your own personal struggles. When employees know that you understand their problems, they are more likely to feel comfortable at work.
Life has changed greatly in 2020, and everyone is still trying to get used to the new normal. While you may not be able to do everything perfectly in your business at this time, you can prioritize taking care of your employees and making them feel safe. In this way, you can continue doing important work that matters more than ever. When your employees know that you truly care for their wellbeing, you will foster an environment of unity and mutual respect.