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5 Tips for Supporting Employees During the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed our lives in recent weeks. It has impacted our workplaces, our communities, our families and the health of individuals all over the world. While many organizations had a crisis plan in place, I don’t think anyone was prepared to deal with the severity of the situation. These circumstances require us to adjust the way we work, communicate and operate while balancing childcare, home-schooling and social distancing challenges.

Amidst these uncertain times, we find ourselves asking how can we best support our employees? How can we stay engaged and connected? In the face of all this adversity, a strong company culture is more important than ever.

The challenges we are encountering today are a chance to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace by supporting our employees and making decisions that are aligned with our cultural beliefs. Employees need to know that the organizations they work for will support them through good times and bad.

CQuence Health Group’s company culture has been a compass to help us navigate these new circumstances. While successfully anticipating and responding to crisis situations requires careful planning and transparent communication, we’ve learned some valuable tips that you may find useful for supporting your employees during this time.

Safety
As an employer, it is important to put your employees’ safety first and embrace responsible business practices in order to provide a safe, dependable workplace for years to come. Unprecedented conditions recently required remarkable responses from all of us, including making decisions that put the welfare of our people and community first. For many companies, including ours, that meant transitioning to a remote workforce to encourage social distancing and help prevent further spread of COVID-19. Our business continuity plans allowed our organization to continue to operate and serve our customers remotely throughout this transition.

Communication
During any crisis, it’s important to share information that is timely, relevant and factual with employees, customers and partners, and invite them to engage in the discussion. Communication is a dialogue. Listen closely to your team, be proactive, and let them know that you’re all in this together.

During a time of uncertainty, it is important for leaders to focus their energy on the behaviors they can control by staying positive and maintaining connectivity. Encourage your employees to use video calls for meetings and brainstorming sessions to avoid isolation and to keep communication open.

Education
Many people have concerns about how current events are impacting them personally and professionally. None of us know exactly when these circumstances will end. Empower your employees with education materials that support them during this time. Educate employees about their healthcare coverage, the market perspective, your employee assistance program, and the importance of washing their hands.

Our team created a communication platform dedicated solely to COVID-19 resources, including a Pandemic Preparedness Plan, working from home tips and a Frequently Asked Questions document to provide a list of information all in one place. It is important to prevent the spread of misinformation by only sharing information from credible sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Collaboration
Similar to the importance of communication, it is important to collaborate with your colleagues to bridge gaps and tackle new problems as they arise. We are all facing challenges we never imagined, but this is an opportunity to explore new and creative ways to collaborate, connect and support each other. Make sure you are asking your teams how you can support them. A lot of the short-term decisions we make now, such as focusing on the present and the things we can control, will help us achieve our long-term goals.

Flexibility
As many families face long-term school closures across the nation, employers should be empathetic, understanding and flexible as employees navigate the challenge of facilitating remote learning for their children. Although it’s not possible for every organization to offer remote work, companies should consider flexible options and enable employees to take care of their family until alternative arrangements can be made. A lack of empathy can quickly deteriorate productivity, morale and engagement. We all know the importance of creating a positive employee experience, and it is even more critical during difficult times when understanding, flexibility and support are needed most.

Many of us are trying to establish some sense of normalcy as we continue to perform essential services and provide solutions for business continuity during this rapidly evolving situation. Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this pandemic. If you have tips for supporting employees, please share them with us in the comments below.

Bruce Stec
About Bruce Stec

Bruce Stec is Vice President of Human Resources for CQuence Health Group and its partner companies. Bruce joined CQuence in 2013 with nearly 20 years of human resources management and consulting experience. Bruce graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and has earned both his Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®) certification and his Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) certification.

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