Employers are dealing with a lot right now. From shutdowns and business interruption to outbreaks and workers’ compensation claims, navigating the pandemic is not easy. However, while employers are focusing on keep their businesses afloat, they also need to make sure their employees are keeping their heads above water.
The coronavirus pandemic has become a major source of stress. People are worried about job security and health, and they’re struggling with the changes to their daily schedules. A survey from the American Psychological Association asked U.S. adults to rate their stress on a scale of one to 10, with 10 indicating a great deal of stress. The average stress score was 5.4 in general and 5.9 related to the pandemic. This is a substantial increase compared to just a year ago, when the average score was only 4.9.
Respect the Need for Work-Life Balance
Working from home may help with some work-life balance issues, but it does not solve everything. This is especially true now that many schools have closed their classrooms and children are learning from home. As a result, many parents are trying to work from home while also supervising their children as they attend school from home.
Given this, it isn’t surprising that parents are reporting especially high stress levels. In the American Psychological Association survey mentioned above, parents with children under age 18 reported an average stress score of 6.7, much higher than that of their childless peers.
Don’t assume that employees have it easy because they’re working from home. They may actually be more stressed than ever, and they may need additional time off and flexibility to deal with all of the unprecedented pressures.
Check in with Your Employees
With so many people feeling isolated and uncertain, strong communication is a must.
Make sure that you’re communicating with your team regularly. This should include daily check-ins, but the schedule isn’t the only thing that matters. What you say is important, as well.
Don’t wait for your employees to speak up, and don’t assume that everything is fine until you hear otherwise. Ask your employees how they’re doing and whether they need help with anything – and make it clear that you really want to know. Maintain a positive (but not insincere) tone and let your employees know they are valued and appreciated.
Additionally, while video conferencing can be a great way to communicate while practicing social distancing, don’t go overboard. Many people find video conferencing to be especially draining, and as this Wall Street Journal article explains, people have started complaining of “Zoom Fatigue.”
Embrace Virtual Volunteerism
Workplace volunteerism has been connected to increased morale and engagement. The Deloitte Volunteerism Survey found that 77% of workers think company-sponsored volunteer activities are essential to employee well-being, 74% think volunteerism provides an improved sense of purpose, and 89% think that companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of many events, and your company may have cancelled volunteer events. This may have been necessary at the time, but as the pandemic stretches on, the lack of volunteer activities may have a negative impact on morale and engagement.
Virtual volunteer activities may provide the solution. Many fundraisers and other charity events have gone virtual, and employees can participate remotely. Many local food pantries need extra support this year.
Good communication, a supportive attitude and participation in volunteer activities can go a long way to improve engagement and help employees get through the difficult times. Some workers may need more assistance, however.
Telehealth benefits have become a popular option during the pandemic, and Fierce Healthcare says that telehealth has become a lifeline for behavioral health during the pandemic. Making sure that employees have access to telehealth benefits for mental health is one simple way to help.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can provide additional help for a wide range of both personal and work-related problems. These programs provide free and confidential assistance in the form of assessments, counseling and referrals.
Wilson, Washburn & Forster is a boutique independent insurance agency that has been in business since 1961. As a local broker, we are experienced in helping Florida businesses manage their employment practices liability exposures. You will find that our experience, claims handling, service, and community commitment is unrivaled.
Contact us today for a complimentary analysis of your current insurance program by an insurance specialist in this field at 786-454-8384.