The COVID-19 pandemic made working from home a requirement for over 25 million Americans. For most essential employees, working from home is not an option. These employees spend their working hours exposed to the public and highly-trafficked areas, which raises their chances of contracting COVID-19. Many essential employees are justifiably frightened of going to work. What can be done to support frightened workers during a global pandemic?
How to Support Frightened Workers
When your employees are afraid to come to work, it is important to understand their needs and concerns. These essential workers are crucial to the economy and the functioning of our society, but they have their own personal well-being to take into account. They know the risk better than anyone and have stepped up to the challenge of the current times.
1. Keep Lines of Communication Open
Fear of the unknown is a major component of fear in the workplace. Since the people essential workers interact with may be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, they may be feeling some uncertainty in the workplace. Keeping lines of communication open is one of the best ways to maintain your employees’ morale and bolster a strong community.
We suggest scheduling weekly meetings or one-on-ones with your employees to check-in and get the conversation started. Let them talk about any concerns they may have so your employees can trust it’s a safe place to communicate about their concerns openly.
2. Provide Resources
Information is a valuable currency during a time of crisis, especially when it’s related to health, safety, or finances. When thinking about what resources could help your employees, think about their priorities. Authoritative information can help address many of the concerns your workers may have, and there is no shortage of helpful resources about this crisis and its related anxieties. The following resources could prove helpful to your frightened workers:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness COVID-19 Information and Resources
- Child Mind Institute Families and COVID-19
- EBSCO Information and Resources to Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Harvard School of Public Health Food Safety, Nutrition, and Wellness
- IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center
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3. Listen and Empathize
Your workers may provide real-time insights that could be the next breakthrough to taking your company (and the economy) out of this situation. If history has shown us anything, employees can create innovative solutions that drive company success. Employers should take extra care to listen to their workers during uncertain times. Listening and empathizing with your workforce can put fears at ease, build trust in the business, and drive innovation as a byproduct.
4. Get Creative
In the wake of the coming months, flexible companies will reign victorious. We are in uncharted waters and each day causes economic ripples that affect everyone, regardless of class. Having the ability to pivot objectives, processes, and expectations to match the ever-changing economic environment will keep you ahead of the competition, while building morale for your team.
Some creative solutions you can offer are accepting absenteeism from overworked essential workers who need another day to cope. Employers can provide incentives such as shortened hours while still paying them full-time, or scheduling virtual employee morale events. There are many different ways to create a less stressful environment, even in a time of crisis, all it takes is some creative thinking.
5. Lead by Example
An important aspect of leading is understanding the influence you have on your employees. Great leaders understand that in order to effectively lead, they need to set the example, always ready to rise to the challenge of the moment with poise.
According to a study done by Sunnie Giles, the most important leadership competencies, according to leaders around the world are:
- High ethical and moral standards
- Provides goals and objectives with loose guidelines/direction
- Clearly communicates expectations
- Has flexibility to change opinions
- Is committed to ongoing training
These traits are guidelines to aspire to in a perfect environment, but these guidelines become more tangible in times of crisis. By following these leadership guidelines, employers can strengthen the health of their employees and the longevity of their company.
When things are put into perspective, it becomes much easier to find solutions to help ease the minds of your frightened workers. These essential workers are required to step onto the line of duty, despite risks to their health, to ensure their greater communities can continue to live as normal as possible. Through communication, creativity, and leadership, employers can help essential workers feel safe at their place of work.
Need Help with Staffing?
If you have a shortage of workers as a result of COVID-19 or its related anxieties, you’re not alone. Many essential businesses are scrambling to staff their positions to meet their production demands, despite the pandemic. For pre-screened, high-quality workers to fill your essential business roles, connect with TERRA Staffing Group today.
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