My Take: A Longer Road

August 5th, 2020
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When the pandemic hit in full force in March, few of us expected the extent of the economic shutdown we’ve experienced.

Even fewer expected we’d still be dealing with it now, in August. This is a much longer road than we thought it was going to be.

Return-to-work plans are being stretched out. The persistent softness in the economy suggests more layoffs may be in store. The toxic political environment may actually worsen through the November election. Even a shortened baseball season is threatened by the pandemic as if our sanity wasn’t taxed enough already.

The questions now for leaders: How best to lead during these uncertain times? How do you keep morale up for employees who may be worried about their jobs and their company’s viability? How do you win at business in the year that everyone wants to forget?

The answer to all of those questions is to do what HR does best, only in overdrive. Focus on people. Your employees will get your company through this historic period, and HR needs to make sure your people are getting what they need. Here are a few ideas we all can do to support employees now:

Communicate early and often. Leadership is vital now. Your employees need to know your C-suite has a plan, is steering the ship, and has everything under control. One powerful and simple way to do that, especially if everyone is working at home, is by frequent communication. As the pandemic wears on and business closures are in the news every day, your employees — whether they’re furloughed, working at home, or still onsite — may be wondering whether your company will survive and whether their jobs will survive. Regular communications from your CEO will keep everyone on the same page, quell fears, and reassure people that the business is still humming along. If it’s not, that needs to be communicated, too. If layoffs are on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to include in their severance packages. Getting laid off in any economy is a jarring blow. In this economy, it can feel like being set adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Outplacement can be their lifeline.

Offer opportunities to upskill. A post-COVID world may require your company to shift, become more efficient, and rethink traditional practices and procedures in favor of more nimble operations. Offering your employees the opportunity to upskill will help prepare them for any changes coming down the pike, and give them the reassurance that they are vital to your organization. As important, it may allow the organization to do more with less.

A focus on childcare. Whether schools will or won’t reopen in the fall depends on the part of the country where you live. But even if your district is opening up, the logistical nightmare boggles the mind. What happens if a teacher or a few students test positive for COVID? Will the entire school shut down for quarantine? What then? It seems clear your employees will be dealing with ongoing childcare struggles. A stipend for in-home childcare could help, as will flexible work arrangements.

Home office stipends. Now is the time your C-suite should be talking about permanent work-at-home arrangements, if appropriate to your business. Whether or not you fully embraced remote work before, it’s certain your company has had to pivot on a dime and embrace it now. Making it permanent holds many benefits, including a smaller office and a happier workforce. Along with the discussions about permanently working at home, now is the time to think about giving those employees a stipend for office furniture and other equipment that will make working at home easier.

Offer mental health options. On top of the stressors of the pandemic itself, this toxic political and social environment is wearing on everyone. Every day in the news, we are treated to a new level of incivility, whether it’s the political conversation or just regular people accosting each other at the local retailer. Enough, already. Not to mention the loneliness of social isolation. Your employees are likely feeling the strain of all of this, as are we all. Offering holistic wellbeing and mental health services, even if it’s just a virtual support group of employees, can do a lot to alleviate that strain.

Ambien (Zolpidem) is a modern drug based on a complex chemical formula, which provides its highest therapeutic effect, so it is necessary to approach its use very carefully, scrupulously observing the dosage regimen prescribed by the doctor.

 

More than anything, it’s about compassion at this time. We’ll get through it, one way or the other.

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