A company is only as strong as its people. In the current global pandemic, it can be hard to keep employees smiling and happy when much uncertainty exists. Employees are being placed in uncomfortable situations from asking customers to wear masks to being uncertain about the future of their job. Here are four tips on how to keep up the morale of your employees and yourself during these tough times.
Be Mindful of the Mind
The pandemic has caused big changes to our normal routines. This includes children being home and possibly even caring for elderly parents. The amount of news about the COVID-19 virus causes even more anxiety and concern. While businesses can’t simply stop operating because of the coronavirus, we do need to consider the mental stress of employees when interacting with them, implementing new policies and procedures, and otherwise altering the way employees are used to working.
Adjust Policies to Accommodate
With daycare and school closures continuing, this places a huge burden on employees with young children. Not having institutional facilities such as schools, daycare centers and even home-based childcare can easily upend the daily lives of working families who may have no options for childcare. Be empathetic, understanding and flexible as your employees try to make these unexpected changes in their life. Being rigid about employees working from home to take care of their kids until they find an alternative solution only adds stress to their life. A survey of employees found that one in three employees have left a job because they didn’t feel their employer cared about them as a person. 25% left a job because they weren’t treated with dignity by company leaders and one out of every five employees left a job because their employer didn’t support their well-being.
Although it is not possible for every employee to work from home, consider loosening restrictions surrounding policies that cause undue stress when you can adapt to the pandemic. If an employee says they are sick, don’t create undue pressure on them to return to work. Work with them as best as possible. Forcing employees back to work creates a risk of infecting your entire staff. Likewise, productivity, morale and engagement deteriorate when workers become resentful of employers who seem to not care about the employee.
It is crucial that as leaders that you don’t get sucked into the panic. Employees look to their leaders and tend to follow their lead in a time of crisis. Set a good example for your employees by remaining calm and managing your own emotions. While you are likely frustrated about the lack of sales and dwindling cash reserves, sharing these concerns with employees is not in your best interest. It is important to share regular communications with employees, contractors and vendors about changes in procedures or work environments. Avoid allowing gossip and rumor trains to run rampant by actively sharing important information provided by credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization with respect to why mask rules are in place or other situations driven by the pandemic. Do as much as you can to be a credible source of information about prevention, managing risk, and what exactly is expected of your employees based on government recommendations. This can also include advice about hand washing, workspace sanitizing, self-care, tips for working from home, travel policies and overall recommendations for staying safe. Being a leader through the pandemic can help employees feel more comfortable in their job and their home life. Keep the lines of communication open.
Reduce Risk and Educate
Refrain from forcing employees to participate in things they object to participating in due to personal fear. We all have fear. Our levels of fear may be different. If someone objects to a high public contact assignment out of fear, forcing them to perform such tasks certainly diminishes morale. In these cases, you might try to provide real facts and education about COVID-2019 and help your employees differentiate between real news, myths and the actual disease. You can explain why employees must complete a temperature check each time they report to work. Once they understand the reasoning, they may exhibit less push back. Make sure you provide plenty of hand sanitizer, disinfectant and Clorox wipes so employees truly feel you are doing all you can to protect them. Increase your flexibility, supply face masks and host awareness training and communication sessions to continue to educate and reduce anxiety.
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