COVID-19 has brought about the biggest work-from-home experiment of all times and altered not just the way we work, but how we live for a long time to come.
As business leaders across the world are navigating this period of uncertainty for their businesses and their employees, it is essential not to forget employee well-being.
One in three employers in the Asia Pacific believes COVID-19 will have a moderate to a large negative impact on employee well-being. Almost two in five employers plan to enhance mental health services and stress or resilience management for their employees over the next six months.
How companies react and align during this crisis will define your employer brand and help you retain top talent. Making sure that your talented employees stay happy at work is the key to surviving the post-COVID-19 world. Your workforce will remember the actions you take during this time and will reward you with loyalty.
Prioritizing employee well-being during the pandemic
Leadership team, please over-communicate
Employees are dealing with a lot of uncertainty, when it comes to their job status or when the offices will be re-starting and how returning to the physical workspace will be handled. It is an uncertain and stressful time.
Put your employees at ease and have company leaders communicate as much information as possible with them frequently. During the crisis, communication is the key, so overcommunicate as much as you can.
At Shortlist, when we went remote, our leadership team heightened the communication methods through emails, town halls, pulse checks, frequent check-ins and team standups. We made every attempt to convey all the information people would need to work remotely and gave them clarity upfront. It helped Shortlisters adjust better to remote work and come forth with any questions they had. The result was as a team, we have grown closer, and everyone is getting as comfortable (as they can under current circumstances) with remote work.
Resources for remote working and overall health
Most companies are giving access to resources that range from financial aid to upskilling opportunities.
Have you tried to include COVID-19 treatment in your medical benefits? That is an excellent way to start if you already offer medical benefits, include the coverage for COVID-19. Your employees will feel they are being taken care of.
72% of companies have also prioritised communicating about well-being apps to support their workforce in maintaining their physical and emotional wellbeing. 73% of employers have also been promoting telemedicine services to their workforce.
Make the work-from-home easy for your employees, make provisions for workstations, ergonomic equipment, laptops and internet, so that they can work efficiently remotely.
Encourage your team to learn and grow during COVID-19. Share MOOCs, courses from learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, etc. for the team to upskill.
Virtual team-building activities
Host virtual versions of all your in-person employee well-being activities that you used to have in the office. At Shortlist, we have all our previously in-person activities held online from town halls, weekly check-ins to team stand-ups.
We introduced new virtual bonding opportunities like cross-border virtual potlucks, where we randomly teamed people from our Mumbai, Hyderabad and Nairobi offices to catch up over a meal and get to know each other. Then we hosted a Global Games Night, which was a huge hit and sparked a wave of conversations across our WhatsApp group. We have folks from the team host unique learning sessions where they teach the broader team any particular skill they have like mandalas, recycling, etc.
These events have gone a long way in improving morale, keeping employees engaged and connected during the whole work-from-home situation.
Focus on mental health
Social distancing takes a toll on people, creates anxiety and stress. Make sure you are frequently checking in with your employees to see how they are doing. Listen to them, address their concerns and make sure they are heard.
Check-in on their workload, ask if they can manage it in addition to their responsibilities and chores at home and adjust accordingly.
Small considerations like these will go a long way in alleviating work-related stress when your employees know you can be flexible and understanding.
We all need to feel a human connection, especially more now than ever. Spend some time with your team catching up and talking about things outside of work.
Prioritizing employee welfare post-pandemic
One of the biggest things all companies will have to re-evaluate post-pandemic is their employee well-being policies and benefits or perks.
A lot of things will be outdated, as employees start living the new normal, as an employer, you are expected to do the same. In addition to retaining your top talent, when it comes to hiring the best talent, updated and appealing well-being and benefits policy will go a long way.
These are a couple of places, we think, employers should focus on re-evaluating policies so that they hold up in the post-pandemic world.
All-inclusive healthcare plans
Healthcare has become more pertinent than ever; COVID-19 has taught us to be prepared for the worse and not be caught off guard. This will figure out predominantly in future employment decisions. Comprehensive employer-provided healthcare will go a long way in helping employees feel secure and cared for. Prospective employees will be looking for employer-covered plans that will never put them in the position of making hard decisions to get the care they can’t afford.
Key services packages
As the world went in lockdown and people were forced to look out for options for various services from grocery shopping, upskilling, medical services, entertainment to fitness online, people have embraced these options wholeheartedly to make the quarantine life easier and safer.
Get creative when you revisit your benefits package. Take this idea of offering a bouquet of online services and seek partnerships to provide these benefits to your employees at a reduced price or free of cost. Your employees will appreciate the thought and be glad to avail the use of these services.
In uncertain times, how you treat your employees will be remembered for years to come. What all companies can learn from this situation is the importance of leading your people with empathy, flexibility, and compassion. Consumers and employees want to know they are working with companies doing good and treating their people right.
Companies that will take this time to do genuine good whether for their employees or communities and will reap the benefits when this storm has passed.
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