The novel coronavirus has threatened the existence of many businesses, either by shutting their doors or affecting their ability to do business as usual. The result has been a skyrocketing rate of unemployment across multiple sectors, coupled with near-unprecedented levels of demand and stress for employees still considered “essential.”
Whether your business has kept staff employed and working through the coronavirus-driven shutdowns or has been forced to lay off staff, here are a few steps that you can take to support your team during this difficult time.
- Providing unemployment support: Most employers that have laid off staff hope to rehire those workers at the end of this crisis. Being in a position to bring back your team when the time comes will allow for a faster ramp-up to full efficiency and will save your business money on recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new staff. Providing support for your furloughed team members will help make this outcome possible.
Filing jobless claims is something that many Americans are doing for the first time. While there is a lot of information available on the subject, the experience can prove daunting for recently-laid-off individuals. Simply sending a packet of unemployment resources to laid-off personnel will help them start the unemployment process and find the relief that they need faster.
- Invest in safety. For frontline workers—including healthcare employees and the workers staffing essential businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, and public transportation—COVID-19 has made going to work every day daunting and uncertain. Interacting with the public is a risky proposition, and those who must do so for work often feel that they are putting themselves and their families at risk. It is up to employers to make these workers feel safer, whether by investing in PPE, increasing standards for sanitation and cleanliness, or enforcing workplace social distancing.
Go virtual wherever possible. Most people feel safest in their homes right now. While not all jobs can be performed remotely, countless employers have found success in moving their operations online and conducting business via email, chat apps such as Slack, or video conferencing software such as Zoom. Your business has probably already taken these steps, as statewide stay-at-home orders have largely restricted in-person work outside of essential services. However, as these restrictions start to lift, consider keeping your remote work structure as an option for employees. Even once stay-at-home orders lift, it may be a long time before employees feel safe going back to work in person.
- Recognize heroics in the workplace. Especially for essential services, recognition and even extra compensation are warranted right now. Engaging with customers or patients in person is a potential health hazard. While employees who are taking on these crucial responsibilities have been rightly hailed as heroes, you need to make sure that recognition isn’t just lip service. Recognize your employees for what they are doing with verbal praise, gift cards, discounts, raises, bonuses, or new benefits. Essential work has been more difficult since COVID-19 began; employers should be saying “thank you” to any workers who are sticking with it.
- Providing mental health assistance. The grief, fear, and uncertainty surrounding coronavirus are immense. Employees have lost loved ones, seen or experienced things on the job that have been downright traumatic, and lost pieces of their way of life. Everyone will cope with these effects differently, but some will require more assistance than others. Making mental health benefits available to your employees is a powerful way to say, “We understand, and we are here for you.”
To encourage safe, secure, and high-morale workplaces, at backgroundchecks.com, we offer an ongoing monitoring service that allows employers to monitor their employees for new developments on criminal records. Right now, ongoing monitoring means more than just a background check, including asking them what they need to feel safe and secure (both health-wise and economically) at this difficult time.
By providing support, you can ensure that your employees have the stability that they need to make it through this crisis.
About Michael Klazema The author
I am part Marketing Technologist, Product Owner and Innovation Accelerator. I can help organisations with two challenges:
- How to move from an organically grown martech stack and a loose set of innovation initiatives to a state which synchronizes a customer focused strategy with a well thought out governance structure and strategy for marketing technology and innovation initiatives. I specialize in predicting which technology trends will more quickly than expected pass the peak of inflated expectations and provide opportunity for value creation and competitive differentiation.
- How to define the right organizational structure like a lab, Center of Excellence or Shared Service Center for enterprise wide Personalization, Next Best Action, Customer Engagement or Marketing Automation programs and select teams and technologies to scale such programs more rapidly.
I am experienced in managing traditional and agile marketing and software development teams as well as running user experience, design thinking, conversion rate optimization, experimentation and digital innovation and transformation programs.
Both on the agency and client side I have led product teams through functional site enhancements, site redesigns, software selection, martech platform introductions, and software re-platforming exercises.