Across the U.S., employees are feeling less and less prepared to do their jobs in the ever-changing world of COVID-19. Gallup Panel data from early June shows that U.S. employees and managers feel less informed about what is happening in their workplace and less prepared to do their jobs than they were in May. In fact, the sentiments “I feel well prepared to do my job” and “My immediate supervisor keeps me informed about what is going on in my organization” both dropped from 50% “strongly agree” to 41% in that time. This may not seem like a huge percentage, but the trend is concerning.
Keeping employees safe, engaged, and productive has never been more important or more challenging than it is right now. As the disruptions of COVID-19 continue, employers must communicate clearly and effectively with their staff, listen to their concerns, and equip them to do their jobs in this season of uncertainty.
In a time when circumstances are constantly changing and evolving, it’s critical to maintain clear communication with your employees. If you assume your employees know the drill by now, since we’re a few months into the pandemic - think again. Now is the time to renew your efforts to ensure your employees are well-informed and prepared. If employees don’t feel informed and supported, their wellbeing, engagement, and performance will falter. Make sure to:
- Regularly update employees on health and safety measures, policy updates, and other guidance.
- Routinely clarify what your expectations are and offer support to your staff.
- Make sure to provide consistent, factual information in your messaging: Uncertainty and confusion contribute to anxiety and fear, but clear communication can help employees feel more informed and better able to focus on their work.
- Encourage ongoing two-way communication with your employees so they understand that you care about how they’re doing and know they can come to you with questions or concerns.
Maintain a Safe and Healthy Work Environment
Protecting the health of your people should be top priority. To keep your workforce healthy, provide everything your employees need to feel comfortable and safe at work. For example:
- Provide personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, along with hand sanitizer or other means of cleaning their hands.
- Consider installing additional protective measures like countertop sneeze guards, especially for employees who work in reception, retail, or any area where they greet customers.
- Review your cleaning and sanitization protocols and ensure that all employees are aware of them.
- Review health-related building systems, such as ventilation and air filtration, as well as facilities management preparedness, and update as needed.
- Create and distribute ”new normal” re-entry guidelines as employees come back to work to communicate any changes in policy, safety protocols, etc.
- Don’t forget about mental health - point employees to counseling or stress management resources that are available to them.
- Reinforce respect and inclusion - with all of the uncertainty in the world today, assure employees that work is a safe place for them. Create a culture of respect and teamwork that unites your workplace.
Equip Managers to Lead Well
Take the time to support and equip your managers and supervisors. They are the ones who have the ability to motivate employees and boost their performance, and they are a crucial element of the success of your business. Remember that anyone who is leading people right now is under a lot of stress. It’s difficult for managers to stay engaged, informed, and prepared, especially when their teams are split between in-office and remote workers, and employees are feeling burnt out across the board.
Make regular one-on-one conversations with your managers a priority right now to ensure they have the tools they need to do their jobs - including training in how to effectively manage a workforce that is split between in-person and remote employees. Routinely clarify your organization’s mission and the direction you are heading in, so managers can prioritize properly. But most of all, take the time to listen to them and offer your support.
Listen to Employees’ Concerns
Your employees are facing unprecedented circumstances right now, so it’s important to treat them with understanding and empathy, and spend time listening to their concerns. Ensure that your employees know you care about them as people, not just workers who produce a product or service for you. Take the time to ask them questions about what they are experiencing and how you can support them, and listen well.
All of your employees are being challenged right now, but not all in the same way. For instance, a remote worker who lives alone will likely feel lonely and disconnected, whereas an employee with children may feel overwhelmed trying to juggle work and childcare. Demonstrate understanding and empathy and provide as much support and flexibility as you can. Listening to and caring for your employees doesn’t just benefit them - it benefits the bottom line for your business, as employees who feel taken care of will be more engaged and productive.
Provide the Resources Needed to Work Effectively
Provide the resources and support your employees need to be productive, effective, and connected, whether they’re working in the office or remotely.
- Ensure that each employee has the basic technology to be effective in their work - high speed internet, computers and other office equipment, needed software and communication tools, etc. - both in the office and at home if needed.
- Provide tech support for remote employees - troubleshooting computer and wifi issues, along with any industry-specific software problems.
- Make sure everyone who can work from home is set up to do so as needed. That way, if someone tests positive and you have to shut things down for a while, you are prepared to handle it. This benefits both the employee and the business - they don’t have to worry about losing work, and your business will lose less momentum.
- If you do have part or all of your workforce working remotely, make sure you have communication channels in place to maintain a connected team. Team members who are isolated will be less productive and engaged.
- Consider providing online training opportunities for your employees to learn new systems and skills or refresh their industry knowledge.
Versare has a new product coming out soon that will be especially helpful for remote employees - a tabletop divider. This soundproof divider, meant to go on a dining room table, will allow multiple family members to work at the same table with fewer distractions. Like our other products, it will be light, portable, and easy to fold up and store. Watch for this exciting new product coming soon!
In the meantime, shop our online store for other products that will help your office - or home office - function at its best. Our line of health protection items will be especially useful as you continue to focus on keeping your employees safe during this pandemic. Questions? Don’t hesitate to call us at 800-830-0210 - we’re here to help!