While we all continue to do our part to slow and halt the spread of the virus, the fact is many individuals, families and business owners also are dealing with the effects of the extreme economic downturn.
Many business owners are doing their best to balance the drop-off in business activity with doing the most they can do to support their employees until the pandemic is under control.
All the same, in times of crisis, opportunities always emerge to be proactive and to help others. For employers, there are a number of practical steps they can take to help their employees stay healthy and engaged in their work, maintain productivity and remain connected to company missions.
These actions also can go a long way to maintain business viability in this interim lock-down period. Whether a company’s employees are working from home or are out in the field performing essential duties, employers and their managers can help sustain morale and reduce fear and anxiety within their teams. Here are few easy-to-implement ideas:
- Utilize online collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Basecamp and many more for immediate communications with your employees and to stay easily connected.
- Deploy video platforms, such as the now ubiquitous Zoom, as part of your communications toolkit. Use these resources to encourage your team members to stay connected and tap into each other for mutual support and help with work assignments. One way to do this is create separate chat rooms on Teams where any of your employees anytime can go into the chat rooms and post about specific tasks they’re working on, especially when they need quick support from a colleague.
- Encourage your employees working at home to step away from their desks throughout the day – go outside for a walk to loosen some stress before resuming work. Executives and managers can be proactive in encouraging their teams to take these breaks so they stay engaged and productive for the rest of the day.
- Set up special, fun virtual events with your teams to foster connection such as after-hours virtual “Happy Hours,” online exercise workouts, or hold virtual team games like Jeopardy or Family Feud.
- For executives and managers, be open and honest as you can in your communications with your employees. Share what’s happening with the company and business plans to carry the company through the crisis, and be overly responsive to employee questions and comments. These communications can build trust and morale while helping allay employee anxiety and concerns.
“Anticipate questions or concerns your employees may have and strive to proactively provide information,” says Denise Powell, Senior HR Consultant, Client Services, with impactHR. “This effort will help reassure employees that you are in tune with what concerns them, and this can go a long way in building trust and strengthening commitment,” adds Denise.
Ultimately during this time, employers should work to keep their employees connected – whether through regular check-ins via video calls and virtual hang-outs and other tools that motivate collaboration, encourage accountability and ward off feelings of isolation and social disconnection. Keeping your team connected, in short, can promote employee satisfaction and productivity.
“Focus on your employee’s well-being – ask more than ‘how are you doing?'” says Bonnie Monroe, Senior HR Consultant, Client Services, with impactHR. “Ask questions such as, ‘what has been the hardest transition about your new working arrangement? Is there anything we can do to improve your experience?’ Emphasize strategies that are related to their overall well-being,” says Bonnie.
At the end of the day, executives and managers can help their teams know – wherever their work stations are at the moment – that they’re not on an island by themselves and that you’re available at all times to support them. By fostering employee engagement and connection now, your company or organization will be even stronger when we’re all on the other side of this crisis.
impactAction: If you have questions about employee engagement strategies, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-741-3900.
impactHR Launches Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources Center
In the midst of the current crisis, the impactHR team remains fully on-duty, around the clock, and committed to addressing your on-going HR needs and issues.
With constantly evolving COVID-19 news and fast-moving changes in business conditions, we’re more committed than ever to providing our full range of HR services to our clients. Please know you can contact us any time for HR-related issues you need assistance with – it’s our mission to be there for you to help protect your business and organization through the crisis and onward.
To be of further assistance, we have just launched our impactHR Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources Center here on our website.
On this daily-updated site, we include a set of easy-to-navigate business support resources, including descriptive links to recently passed federal and state legislation (for DC, MD and VA) such as the Paycheck Protection Program and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
In this period of great uncertainty and disruption, we join in expressing our gratitude to all medical professionals, first responders and volunteers doing everything they can to help those afflicted by this virus. We wish you health and safety in the days ahead.
impactAction: Contact us any time at email@example.com or 443-741-3900 if we can be of help for your HR needs.
EEOC Develops Coronavirus Guidance Portal for Employers
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s new online resources page is designed to help companies navigate EEOC regulations in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
The agency’s portal contains a practical FAQ document titled “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.”
In this guidance document, for example, one key guideline pertains to whether employers can test employees body temperature: “Because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions, employers may measure employees’ body temperature.”
In addition, for hiring and on-boarding, the EEOC states: “An employer may screen job applicants for symptoms of COVID-19 after making a conditional job offer, as long as it does so for all entering employees in the same type of job.” Learn more.
impactHR Joins Annual Pajamas/Gift Card Drive for Casey Cares
For the fifth year in a row, impactHR is joining with many others to help the Baltimore-based Casey Cares Foundation with its 2020 “Gift Card and Pajamas” donation drive. With the current pandemic crisis, Casey Cares reports that their “need is higher than ever before.”
For this year’s drive, Casey Cares is collecting pajamas and gift card donations to send to their families in care packages to hospitals in the Greater Baltimore-Washington region. Casey Cares serves children who are critically ill and going through treatment for cancer, sickle cell, cystic fibrosis plus other life-threatening illnesses.
The Casey Cares team hasn’t been slowed by the pandemic crisis – they’re sending out more than 100 care packages every week to their families.
If you and your organization are interested in contributing, the Casey Cares team is asking for donations such as youth pajamas; gift cards for a Movie & Pizza Night to a homebound family with a critically ill child; or donating a gift card for pizza delivery or grocery store delivery. Click here to learn more about donating.
CDC Releases Guidelines to Manage Critical Infrastructure Workers
The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recently released new guidelines for the the management of critical infrastructure workers – such as those in IT, critical manufacturing, food and agriculture and all related public sector roles – who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
The new guidance allows critical infrastructure workers to continue working after a potential exposure to COVID-19 if they remain asymptomatic (free from symptoms) and if additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.
As part of the CDC’s work, Maryland released an updated version of its guidelines for this class of workers. The Maryland guidelines, in the form of easy-to-read Q&As, focus on the range of key health-related workplace requirements, including what employers have to do if a critical infrastructure worker is to continue working. Read more.