Ways executive leaders can support employees during the COVID-19 pandemic

There’s nothing “business as usual” as of late and with so many unknowns, it can be overwhelming to be a people leader. However, leadership matters more than ever—teams are craving it in a world of uncertainty.

According to recent Gallup surveys, which compared data from March 13-16 vs. March 27-29, the percentage of full-time employees who say COVID-19 has disrupted their life "a great deal" or "a fair amount" has jumped from 58% to 81%. Additionally, compared with 2019, reports of daily worry have increased from 37% to 60% and daily stress has increased from 48% to 65%. With stress and worry on the rise, employees may require some much-needed support.

Use these five tips to support employees during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Show up for employees and lead by example

Leadership is an essential component to any organization. During times of crisis, employees often look to leadership for guidance, support, and a morale boost. If possible, check in with your employees individually, even if it’s a quick instant message. Be sure you’re keeping the team engaged, especially for those who are working remotely. Acknowledge times are strange and difficult but remain positive.

2. Educate employees about symptoms and prevention

As discoveries are made and new information becomes available about COVID-19, it’s important to keep employee health and safety at the forefront. Ensure your organization can serve as a trusted hub for the latest information. As the virus remains very fluid, consider weekly communications that summarize key information by trusted resources (such as the CDC). Establishing a cadence will help to instill trust and predictability for employees.

3. Communicate frequently and openly

Things often change rapidly in times of crisis. It’s important to continually communicate with employees on changes to your organization or business that arise. And if possible, try to communicate solutions—or approaches to the situation—not just the problem. This will help employees feel secure and confident.

4. Emphasize the importance of work-life balance

Going back to the Gallup surveys, the percentage of parents working full time who have kept their kids home from school because of COVID-19 has increased from less than half (44%) to everyone (100%). This means, more than ever, there needs to be communication around how to balance—and separate—work and regular home life.

Clearly communicate your workplace expectations and offer strategies for juggling the demands of work and home.

5. Elevate important resources

Times of turmoil affect people in a multitude of ways; for some it’s mentally and for others financially. Now is the time to communicate the resources and benefits available to employees to help them find whatever type of assistance they may need. Don’t forget to provide any updates or enhancements made to your organization's medical plans.

Businesses did not anticipate a global pandemic in roadmap planning, so now is the time to lead through your company’s values.

Copyright © 2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.

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