What Employers Should Do to Safeguard Employees’ Well-being amid a Pandemic

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The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has negatively affected individual employment and the global economy. Safety restrictions have forced businesses to shut down throughout the lockdown period. Major changes in the corporate landscape have dragged on profitability and revenues, slowing potential recovery in employment and labor activity.

The first two months of the pandemic witnessed an unprecedented rise in job losses as businesses downsize and cut salaries to cope with the financial blow. This forced employees to seek mediation services for employment disputes such as wrongful termination, flexible working requests, health issues, and other unfair employment practices.

As the COVID-19 pandemic separated employees from their workplaces and familiar routines, it resulted in significant effects on their well-being, employee morale, and work performance. Meanwhile, employers who were able to do business during the pandemic are taking proactive measures to support their employees during a crisis.

In these uncertain times, there are plenty of ways to extend help and emotional support to employees. So if you’re managing a workforce during this pandemic, here are some ways to promote employees’ health and well-being.

Employ work flexibility

While the work-from-home model has allowed employees to keep their jobs during an economic crisis, this new work setup has various effects on the workforce depending on their living situations and work tasks. For instance, employees with families have to balance their household duties while keeping up with their corporate life.

Aside from remote working, companies are providing more flexibility so employees have the freedom to set a boundary between their work and personal life. To adopt this approach, managers can conduct open conversations with employees about when and how they prefer to work without affecting their privacy while offering flexible options. For instance, managers can provide leeway for difficult projects or adjusted work hours to have time for the family.

The success of this approach may depend on the employer or the head of the company since not all have a positive view about flexibility. For businesses that require employees to come on-site, they can still offer flexibility through leave of absence, compressed work, or reduced hours. In turn, employees should take the opportunity to voice their concerns and let their employers know the kind of flexibility they need to juggle their home and work lives.

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Promote healthy coping

One of the widespread effects of the pandemic is the increasing cases of mental health issues such as stress, fear, anxiety, and depression. To overcome these concerns, employers should demonstrate an understanding of employees’ preferences, circumstances, and needs in terms of work arrangements to keep them happy and productive.

During a crisis, people differ in coping responses when dealing with stressful situations concerning the family, work circumstances, and living arrangements. Employers can address this by offering various ways to promote employees’ physical and mental health. For instance, employers can conduct regular checks with employees to ask about their families and how they’re coping. This demonstrates the company’s awareness of employees’ current situation and their availability to extend help.

Managers can also have a personal talk with their employees to provide direction in terms of redistributing tasks to accommodate their changing needs. There are also online sources that offer counseling or mindfulness practice to help employees cope with their personal challenges. Some examples are webinars on mindfulness and resilience and employee assistance programs.

Encourage team bonding and online collaboration

Working from home is an entirely new setup for employees who are used to working in a traditional office environment. If employees are more accustomed to social activities with their coworkers, social isolation can be difficult.

Research has discovered that supportive and reciprocal work interactions have a strong link with employee well-being. In this regard, employers should offer opportunities for employees to bond and connect with coworkers even online. Some examples are happy hours, virtual coffee breaks, story sharing, birthday celebrations, and team-building games. This will help loosen things up and promote better online collaboration.

Whatever activity you choose, employers must encourage their teams to set aside fun activities instead of just doing work. It doesn’t matter even if they have to do it online because allowing space and time for team bonding can go a long way to promote belongingness and keep employees motivated in their jobs.

While the pandemic has driven the economy into unexpected challenges, the current crisis has allowed employers to evaluate how they can actively demonstrate supportive and inclusive behavior for their employees. Some of the suggestions above can get you started on your initiative, but as companies continue to deal with the economic repercussions of the pandemic, the best approach is to prioritize employees’ well-being and safety during this crisis.

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