Supporting Your Employees During the Coronavirus Crisis
As news of the spread of the coronavirus continues to make daily headlines, it is natural for people to feel uneasy with all of the unknowns that surround this new virus. The impact on businesses is starting to be felt, particularly those with offices or employees located in other countries. While most of us have no control over the direction that this virus may take, we can control our response to the fear that this can invoke.
To support your employees who may be feeling uncomfortable with some aspects of their work during this scare, here are five tips for supporting your employees during the coronavirus crisis:
- Show understanding and empathy. Some of your employees may have family members that are being directly affected. Others may have recently traveled to an area where a case has now been confirmed. Take their concerns seriously and encourage open communication about their concerns.
- Offer to supply face masks. If you have employees who must travel for work, you can offer to supply them with face masks to carry along on their journey. While there are conflicting reports as to the level of protection these may or may not provide, this is a way that you can show concern for their welfare as members of your team.
- Consider converting from in-person to virtual meetings. To allay some of the concerns your employees may have about traveling right now, consider converting your usual in-person meetings to virtual ones. Virtual conferencing can be an effective communication method for meetings and may also increase productivity by eliminating the time spent (and potential exposure) to travel to another location.
- Educate and inform. If your employees work in careers where they can have an increased risk of exposure to individuals who could be ill, educate and inform them of proper protocol for protection and reporting when performing their work duties. Keep the lines of communication open so they are comfortable talking about their concerns and take any suggestions seriously that they may offer to minimize risk.
- Offer and encourage the use of sick time. A recent trend in the workplace is that of "sick-shaming" in which employees who are sick and report to work anyway are made to feel guilty by their co-workers. This may be an ideal time to re-evaluate your sick-time policy and compare the overall high cost of absenteeism from sickness that spreads throughout the entire workplace when someone reports to work sick because they don't get paid to the cost of paying out sick time to a smaller number of employees that might be affected if those who were ill stayed at home. The cost of paid sick time may be mitigated by offering paid sick-time in tandem with flexible or remote work options during their illness.
As more information and hopefully a vaccine or cure for coronavirus is discovered, this like most health crises that came before it, will likely create less fear and panic as time goes by. Knowledge is power, but the lack of knowledge can cause fear and stress. These tips to support your employees during this uncertain time can make a difference in how valued they feel in your organization and how you are viewed as a leader.