For most workplaces, Covid-19 has and
continues to shift the conditions and circumstances within which businesses
operate. Some of these circumstances are novel and employers are learning how
to navigate these uncharted territories. One thing is for sure, however, is
that the emotional trauma caused by the pandemic has reiterated the value of
positive wellbeing to lower health risks. A strong sense of wellbeing makes it
easier for employees to overcome difficulties, and, when the time comes, to
transition back into more normalized work conditions.
What we see happening now is employers
exploring best practices to support the wellbeing of their remote workforces,
essential workers and, yes, those who are temporarily laid off. The good news
is, prior to this, many businesses had created and/or were establishing a
culture that values and actively supports employees’ wellness and wellbeing. If
you are one of these companies, you already have tools, resources and programs
in place to support your workers. As a result, your responsibilities as an
employer include redirecting those resources and re-tooling programs to better
address the new circumstances faced by your workforce. If you are not one these
companies, the below best practices still do apply to your circumstances.
- Remember that you have a
workforce with different personalities and living circumstances. Some
workers will embrace remote work while others may find it taxing. Managing
and supporting each type of worker requires flexibility. For example, be
flexible with work hours. Some employees may need to care for children and
other family members. Instead of expecting your employees to work 9-5,
create timelines for deliverables. This allows them the opportunity to
create their own work schedule, whilst still meeting deadlines.
- Implement systems that ensure
connectivity- There are many apps-video and audio- that keep the lines of
communication open and which facilitate collaborative work.
- Provide work that meets the
business’s objective and create a sense of purpose. This will reinforce
that the work they do is meaningful and, during a very distressing time,
could add value to their days. Take care not to overwhelm employees with
work and unrealistic deadlines and don't forget to express your
- Encourage employees to
socialize -Create a virtual water cooler. This adds a social element that
remote workers crave. Virtual lunchrooms, online games, webcam hangout
room, these feed workers’ social appetite.
- Encourage active living, health
and safety- Create awareness and solutions to health and safety risks. For
example, provide information or tutorials on how to combat ergonomics,
stress, burnout and host online meditation/yoga sessions.
For essential workers
- During a pandemic, essential
workers may be asked to work longer hours. Exercise caution when making
such requests. Emphasize the need for regular rest and breaks to
re-energize oneself, prevent burnout and to better manage stress. And,
where possible, hire more workers to fill the surplus of labour that is
now available https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1150
- Take all possible steps to
protect their health and safety. Implement best practices and procedures
recommended by public health authorities and provide appropriate
protective equipment and products. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/crtcl-nfrstrctr/esf-sfe-en.aspx When
employees know that measures have been implemented to lower risks to
their health and safety, it offers great level of peace of mind.
- Provide support- Support
may include daycare services, travel or accommodation or a simple coffee
station at work.
Temporary laid off workers
- For workers who are laid off,
show your humanity with authentic and sensitive responses. For example,
offer support by reminding workers of the benefits due to them and, where
needed, assist employees in the application processes. Helping your
workforce to preserve financial security is one less issues they have to
- Be honest with regards to the
impact of the crisis on the business’ operation. By being transparent you
foster trust and employees can objectively explore the options available
- Keep communication open-
regular communication that is non-work-related shows that you do not only
care about the work they do, but that you care about who they are and how
they are managing.
- Include employees in the
decision-making process. For those companies that value collaboration,
this is an opportunity to reinforce collaborative leadership. Allow
employees to make recommendations about the business's operation. There is
no certainty that the recommendations may bear fruit, but involvement
keeps employees engaged even when they're not working. It also gives them
the opportunity to have some control of what is happening, instead of
making them feel that things are happening to them.
The accumulative impacts of a pandemic
may result in emotional trauma for your workforce. And one main certainty the
pandemic has unearthed is that wellbeing is impacted by our environment, people
and the circumstances that give rise to their interaction. Therefore,
safeguarding positive wellbeing requires the collective efforts of employers,
co-workers and the individual. As an employer, your efforts are not to fix but
to provide support and help employees manage difficulties that may compromise
Should you have questions or require
assistance, please email Tenesia Benjamin at firstname.lastname@example.org.