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Given the recent changes made in the workplace to manage the impact of COVID-19, it's even more important to stay connected with your employees.

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COVID-19 Workplace Best Practices: Employee Well-Being

Posted: 4/6/2020

The origin of the word Company is derived from the Old French term compagnie, meaning a “society, friendship, intimacy; body of soldiers”, which came from the Late Latin word companion, meaning “one who eats bread with you”. Companies have many components including missions, values, products, services but are ultimately made up of one critical element – its PEOPLE. During challenging times like this it’s critical to help balance your employees’ varying and competing priorities.

Employee well-being has become a popular topic in recent years because of its direct connection to employee engagement and productivity. This realization has given more meaning to the concept that we should see our people as WHOLE people and not just a human capital asset. Some companies are making good progress installing employee well-being programs while others haven’t yet started. Regardless of where you fall on this continuum, now is the time to reflect on what you’re doing for your employees’ well-being and make adjustments that this situation demands.

Here are four things to consider for employee well-being in a reality shaped by COVID-19:

1.      Remote work – those who have traditionally been office workers have been forced remote and this introduces new challenges, especially if there are kids at home. Many companies are offering increased flexibility in work hours and scheduling to accommodate conflicting responsibilities at home.

2.      Physical health – many companies provide health benefits, but they often include deductibles and co-pays that can be costly at a time like this, which are made worse if you have to take unpaid time off. Most insurance carriers are now covering the costs for COVID-19 infections and many companies are offering additional sick leave. Be sure to communicate your health coverage and sick leave policy clearly and continuously with your employees, especially as they can change weekly as more legislation passes and new guidelines emerge like those in the FFCRA.

3.      Mental health – one of our employees, Ryan, who is also a mental health counselor put it well in an email he sent company-wide last week when he said, “…the pandemic is having an effect on almost everyone’s mental health in some way and many of us are struggling in ways big and small…”.   What mental health resources are available to your employees either through you or through the community? Are you communicating those? Some health insurance companies have also added additional resources for mental/behavioral health for its members so be sure you stay up to date with your major medical health carrier’s offerings.

4.      Food and safety – getting the timing right to both avoid crowds and get basic necessities can be a challenge for all of us, especially for employees who live with or are themselves infection high-risk individuals. The challenge is discovering this need and arming your leaders with real ways to care for their employees’ well-being. Ask supervisors, and whoever owns individual outreach as outlined in my recent article about connection, to add this to their check-ins. Connect with your employees, show emotional support, and provide tangible resources that can help.

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COVID-19 Workplace Best Practices: Employee Connection

Posted: 3/26/2020

Things continue to change quickly as each day passes.  Every day, more cities and states move to institute Stay-At-Home orders.  Just 5 minutes ago, I received an alert on my phone notifying me of the order to stay at home starting tomorrow morning.  All this change and uncertainty can create feelings of stress, anxiety, confusion and fear.   More than ever, people need to feel a connection, and there are things we can do as leaders, managers, coworkers and friends to help create a connection.

Connection

Feeling connected can help us feel a sense of belonging, shared empathy, care, and feeling wanted and needed. At a time like this, that connection is necessary regardless of whether your workforce is normally remote, transitioning to remote, driving a truck, at the hospital, or on a construction site.

Here are 3 best practices for helping your employees feel connected:

  1. Frequent communication – In the first article of this series I outlined the importance of an effective communication plan. No news IS NOT good news in a situation like this.  Information reduces uncertainty.  Even when there is nothing big or seemingly noteworthy to share, outreach alone can create trust and comfort in the knowledge that there’s still someone there.  Consider sending a brief daily or every other day communication.
  2. Individual outreach – Assign someone the responsibility to reach out to every employee at your organization. Ask your supervisors to take this on.  Everyone at a company should already have a supervisor, even the CEO.   Ask every supervisor to reach out personally to each of their direct reports to check-in with them, ask them how they’re doing, provide any updates, answer questions, and thank them for their continued efforts on behalf of the company.
  3. Get together often – Encourage frequent informal and formal meetings for departments, committees, or even with the entire organization. This may not work for every job role or company but try to think outside the box.  At People Element we recently found that virtual video get togethers can be as engaging as our in-person meetings.  It’s hard to hide in the crowd on a video conference.  We’ve had quick, 15-minute company huddles, department meetings, company-wide meetings, and a happy hour, all via online meetings.  Consider having virtual lunch meetings, potlucks, or birthday celebrations.  There are several good free video conferencing tools if you don’t have one: Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype are just a few of the many.
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COVID-19 Workplace Best Practices: Start with Communication

Posted: 3/24/2020

The impact of COVID-19 has found its way into all our lives in one way or another. We, your team at People Element, want to do what we can to help you and your employees through this time of uncertainty. We can’t possibly know all the challenges you’re facing but based on the customer conversations we’ve had and our own experiences, we’ve narrowed our focus to three critical areas: Communication, Connection, and Well-Being. Below are some thoughts and resources for the first of these areas: Communication. We hope these materials can be helpful in your efforts to navigate through this difficult time.

Communication

It’s not an accident this is listed first. We believe this should be the first priority at a time like this. Information empowers your people to make the best decisions possible for themselves and their families. We recommend you develop a communication plan that can be delivered by the highest levels of leadership as well as immediate supervisors. Here are the 4 keys to an effective communication plan:

1.     Communication should be appropriately transparent and empathic

2.     Use as many delivery mediums as possible as different people best absorb information in different ways (company/department meeting, video, recorded messages, email, etc.)

3.     Establish an appropriate frequency of communications as things change rapidly. Even if you have no changes or updates, it’s important you keep your communication coming regularly – something like “We have no new updates at this time, but we will keep you informed as we know more.”

4.     Under the current circumstances, we recommend the following topics be covered:

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COVID-19 Workplace Study Findings

People Element has surveyed more than 2000 people about their employment experiences during the COVID-19 crisis.

Our report outlines our findings and is available as a free download.

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Feedback on Employer Response to COVID-19

We’re seeking feedback about how companies are responding to COVID-19 and how employees are feeling about it.  Please click the link to take a 60-second survey.  The results will be shared with you so you can see how others are feeling and with companies so they can make more informed decisions about supporting employees through COVID-19.

Let’s work together to meet the challenges we face, and let’s put our people first.

Click the link to participate: https://peopleelement.net/app//#/PE/COVID_Study

Resources for Communication

Resources for Connection

Resources for Well-Being

Resources for Leading

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