Coronavirus Concerns? Show Your Workers You Care (You Really Care) in Three Steps
By Lindsay J.K. Nichols, Vice President, Marketing & Communications on March 18, 2020
COV-19, also known as the coronavirus, is here.
In a blink of an eye, it seems our world has turned upside down. If you’re like me, you’re working remotely, you’ve read “in an abundance of caution” more times than you can count, you’re managing a child who is climbing the walls without school to occupy her time, and you’re casting about trying to find some tangible way to help yourself, your loved ones, and the broader community in which you live and work—not to mention those hit hardest by the outbreak.
While we may not be able to help everyone impacted by coronavirus right now, you can help the people you work with day in and day out right alongside you. Here are three affordable steps you can take this very minute:
- Prioritize perks. In addition to remote work, which helps your team follow the recommended social distancing – keeping at least six feet away from each other –flexible work schedules are helpful for those who are now juggling children no longer in school, caring for sick loved ones and those vulnerable to the coronavirus, and generally trying to manage the new normal in which we find ourselves. If your day-to-day work has slowed, this is also an optimal time to focus on training and development for your staff. Many development programs are online, as well as free research, white papers, guides, and case studies - so it's a perfect time to help your team brush up on what's new, and what's tried and true, all while maintaining their social distance. Casual work dress is also a perk for those that need to go into the office or get on video conference calls.
- Build trust. Last year, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reported that nearly two-thirds of global senior executives believe trust among people, businesses, and institutions is declining. What’s more, PwC’s CEO survey found that a lack of trust is a significant threat to an organization’s ability to grow. There is no doubt, trust has become a source of competitive advantage. Harvard Business Review found that people in “high trust” companies report less stress, higher productivity and engagement, and less burnout. Companies that want to strengthen trust begin with their own employees. Right now, there is a deluge of information about the coronavirus, and many employees will look to their managers for guidance. And while you may not have all the answers, simply by checking-in on your team early and often, you build trust. Let your team know that you are following the coronavirus situation and will provide updates when possible, and ask your team how they are faring. Showing them you have empathy for their unique situations goes a long way in trust-building. There are a lot of helpful tips to guide you through this situation, like this useful Harvard Business Review article, “How to Reassure Your Team when the News Is Scary.”
- Start an Employee Assistance Fund (EAF). A Federal Reserve study found that 44 percent of Americans can’t cover a $400 unexpected emergency expense – such as those associated with the coronavirus. That not only hurts your staff’s finances, it causes an incredible amount of stress, which not only impacts your employees but their loved ones – and your business. An Employee Assistance Fund (EAF), also known as an Employee Relief Fund or an Employee Crisis Fund, is a program that helps your workforce face unexpected financial situations like this – with the benefit of decreasing their stress, easing their burdens, boosting morale, and showing you care – you really care. Some EAF programs are incorporated into wellness programs, which traditionally focus on physical health. An EAF demonstrates to your team that their mental health is just as important to you and your company. And while the coronavirus takes a toll on our country economically, you can provide an EAF at a relatively low cost. Hosting your EAF through an external nonprofit partner, like America’s Charities, increases the flexibility of what hardships the fund can cover and lowers the administrative burden to your business and your employees. Simply put, an EAF supports your employees when they need it most – like right now. An EAF program shows employees that your organization goes above and beyond typical work perks with initiatives that support employees in the totality of their lives. Visit www.charities.org/eaf to learn the many benefits of an EAF, and if you work in CSR, read our President and CEO Jim Starr's article about how an EAF points your CSR efforts inwards.
While the coronavirus continues to flip everything on its head, it’s imperative that we focus on the old adage, “show – don’t tell.” Employees can spot empty platitudes and meaningless gestures a mile away. Prioritizing perks, building trust, and hosting an EAF prove that you’re going beyond mere words and taking actual steps to support them. And when you treat our employees as more than a number, you show them that you recognize them as people with full and complicated lives. During times of crisis, that’s especially important. You demonstrate that your workers are valuable to you and your business and that you will be there for them, through the good, the bad – and the coronavirus.
In other words, you show them you care, you really, really care.
Check out America’s Charities' Coronavirus Resource Center, where we’ve pulled helpful resources together to help you get through this trying time. Stay safe.
Want to learn more about EAFs? First read our article about the three things you should consider before launching your fund. Then, complete the form on this page and we'll be in touch to learn out more about your goals and needs.