By Julia A. Johnson
Health and wellness are of paramount concern to our employees. Many are hesitant to return to in-office work; many continue to feel social isolation; for those with family care responsibilities, many are uncertain as to what that will look like in the coming weeks and months; and many are struggling with achieving appropriate balance when working from home.
My last blog on the employee experience was in May 2020. With the summer months ahead, it seemed like a good opportunity to pause, reflect and prepare for what was anticipated. Today, there is a resurgence of COVID-19, pending new legislation, continued impacts of a predominantly remote workforce for many, and of course, the health and wellness of our employees (which in turn impacts families and the larger community).
There is a concerning and confusing landscape around COVID-19 — one that has become politicized, where the facts appears to be obscured and trusted medical experts’ opinions appear to be disregarded and carried into the fray of politics. There is a tremendous amount of controversy and debate about not only what is right but who is right. It’s a debate that isn’t likely going to be resolved anytime soon. Employers need to pick a path that is aligned with their culture and values.
Thoughts and actions to consider:
- Maintain effective communication with your employees, expressing the organization’s commitment to finding the best path forward.
- Articulate the “whys” behind the workplace precautions that you are taking to protect the health and safety of employees (e.g., the wearing of masks, the periodic sanitizing of work areas, the request for handwashing throughout the day, the heightening awareness of social distancing).
- Connect and communicate with employees about their family care responsibilities and strive to create work arrangements that serve the needs of both your employees and the organization (e.g., consider two-person teams that can support one another and bring flexibility to the workday, rethink hours of work for those positions for which time of work is less important than the completion and quality of the work itself).
- Determine whether there are team partnerships that make sense and make connections between team members that may be able to share in family care responsibilities.
- Explore and suggest relationships with various family care providers in the community and make connections.
- Understand the tendencies of your team (e.g., are some struggling to work a full schedule, and are others finding it difficult to disconnect from work?) and provide support in helping them achieve an appropriate balance.
- Partner with your EAP program on individual support and/or programming that speaks to the mental health challenges that many are struggling with as they extend far beyond work (e.g., economic impacts, COVID-19 impacts, social injustice impacts).
There are many fatigued individuals in the workplace today, whether on site or remote. Balancing business needs with care and compassion for employee needs is critical. Keep those channels of communication open and continue to network with others to take advantage of the collective genius.
Employee Experience blog series:
New language in times of uncertainty
Emphasis on each generation
Through the eyes of a Baby BoomerThrough the eyes of a millennial