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Essential Workers

How Companies Can Help Their Employees During These Tough Times, and Why They Should

Working during COVID-19 comes with a number of challenges that workers will have to face every day, from simple adjustments of routines and practices to worries of increased risks to their health. Companies likewise are called to adapt to the new way of things, and many are facing shutting their doors for good. Ahead you will find a number of things you can do for your employees during these tough times, as well as reasons why following these tips are in the best interest of employees and companies alike. 

Go Remote Wherever Possible

One of the best ways to keep employees safe is to keep them inside their own homes during this pandemic. For a lot of companies and types of work, this won’t be possible. But whatever areas, even within lines of work that typically require in-person work, where you can find a way for someone to work remotely, do it. 

Even industry giants like Amazon are moving many of their employees to remote work until the pandemic subsides. Amazon let their workers know that anyone whose job can be done from home is welcome to do so. They’ve even pushed back the return date to October second.

Going remote is a solution that benefits everyone. Companies get to keep their workers working, and the workers themselves are kept out of harm’s way. This is also a good opportunity to experience the benefits of remote work in a trial setting. 

Be Flexible

Adapting and working through this crisis for employees means flexibility, but the same is also demanded of the companies these employees work for. Before this pandemic struck, only a small fraction of the US workforce were remote, work from home, employees, as a regular part of their schedule, but now that proportion is skyrocketing. 

Working from home doesn’t impact everyone equally. With schools and daycares closed, workers with children face their own unique challenges when it comes to successfully working from home 

Managers should have conversations with all of their staff to work out the best ways to work remotely, the best ways to communicate effectively, and how best to manage time and productivity. Trying to fit the square peg that is traditional workflow into the round hole that is remote work. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a system that will work, it just means that you can’t expect that your old ways of doing things will work without adjustment, and without consideration for your employees. 

Reward Your Employees

Some employees will be out of work during this crisis, while others will have to work in overdrive and under conditions that are extra stressful. Either way, you should try to show your employees how much they mean to you. 

A lot of businesses have furloughed their employees. Plenty of people are out of work with the promise that once things return back to normal, they’ll have a job again. But there’s still no clear sign of when exactly things will be “normal” again. 

Other businesses, like grocery stores, carry-out restaurants, and hand sanitizer factories, will be working at a rate and under conditions that are more draining than ever. Whatever the case may be, your workers deserve to be rewarded. Giving them a simple gift, being more flexible about sick leave, and, in general, showing your appreciation for them can go a long way. 

Gift cards, especially with personalized messaging, can be a great reward for employees through this tough situation.  For companies that have had to postpone operations, a gift card isn’t going to be the same thing as a paycheck, but it can help your workers pay for groceries, reward themselves, and help them get by.  Gift cards also provide a great bonus for essential workers as they endeavor on the front lines of this pandemic.  

Keep your Essential Workers Safe

While moving to remote work will work for some, it isn’t a solution that can be applied broadly, especially in the case of essential workers. In this situation, it is your responsibility to keep these workers safe. Providing masks, gloves, sanitizer, etc, is a great start, but there’s a lot more that you’ll need to do in order to keep these workers safe. 

Limit in-person interaction. Say you’re a restaurant owner. In-person dining is out, but you’re keeping the kitchen going for deliveries. All the cooks have their gloves and masks, but you still want to limit the number of interactions your staff has with other people and with each other. This can look like staggering breaks, changing all deliveries to drop-off deliveries, and keeping staff in general to a minimum. 

And this thinking needs to be applied to all staff. Cashiers need protective screens, business trips need to be put on pause, and the physical working environments need to be cleaned and sanitized regularly.

 

The CDC has extensive resources for business owners and employers.  Be sure to check the website for the latest information.

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