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As your staff adapt to changing circumstances, here are several ways to provide them with support and keep operations going.
Leadership is needed now more than ever
If employers have learned one thing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s just how resourceful their workforce can be. From adapting to work remotely from home and on-site staff working tirelessly to keep operations afloat, the pressure and urgency make it tempting for managers to act quickly, without thoughtful consideration of all potential consequences. Employees are now looking at leaders and executive teams to take actions that protect both them and the business. Here are a few ways to provide much-needed support as employees and companies go through this crisis together.
#1 Managers must educate & communicate
Senior leadership, middle management, and human resources all have a trusted, strong voice within any company structure. Managers and leaders have to make SURE that all colleagues know what’s going on, why, and how. In fact, we’d argue that information is more important than it has ever been. This is why managers should create weekly video messages to their teams, discussing successes, challenges, assignments, and plans. These videos are easy to make and should be sent Friday, just after midday. Late enough in the week to recap, but early enough on Friday to answer questions the video may create. During the most difficult times, as the crisis escalates, and once operations begin to return to normal, providing a concise source of communication is key.
#2 Improve Your Daily Check-Ins
For managers and supervisors, candid contact becomes more important in trying times. Even amid the chaos that COVID-19 has brought to the workforce, this isn’t the time to put off your one-on-one meetings or quick check-ins. Teams of colleagues who work closely together should be having daily sessions (no longer than 15 minutes) to see how everyone is doing, and discuss key deadlines for the day. Schedule online meetings or phone calls with your direct reports and be sure to take the conversation beyond work to check how your staff is coping emotionally.
See if they feel well-supported by their peers, management, and senior leadership. This includes whether or not they feel like the company is being transparent and responsive as situations change.
Make sure that your employee has their working needs met, including supplies, hardware, and any physical files they may need.
Be sensitive to changes in your employees and demonstrate understanding by creating time and space to listen to your employees’ concerns. Communicate your concern for them and let them know that you are willing to work with them to cope with the challenges.
In case a team member can’t make the daily check-in at any point, always record these sessions.
#3 Be Like Water My Friend
When businesses, schools, and programs come to a halt, there are often unique problems that arise in their place.
Parents who depend on childcare centres and schools have found themselves scrambling to find childcare and, in many cases, there aren’t family members or services that can step in. Allow for modified schedules, alternative shifts, or time off for parents that may suddenly become sole caregivers or homeschool teachers.
Sensitive secondary effects require the most compassion and grace from employers to employees. Some households may be going from double-income to single-income as companies have to shut their doors and implement temporary layoffs. For employees going through a financial downturn, any amount of relief or aid can be a godsend, whether it’s just in workplace flexibility, financial aid, or help with seeking outside assistance. In turbulent times, support from one’s employer can dramatically affect an employee’s livelihood. As we overcome the effects of COVID-19, this support can make for a smoother transition back to normal life.
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