What should employers do in the midst of COVID chaos?
Our lives have been turned upside down for the past 18+ months. We have learned to live in the midst and through chaos both personally and professionally. It is getting tiring and old. However, it seems COVID isn't going away as fast as we hoped. What can employers do to make it a little easier for their employees?
Benefits that matter
Employers should be offering benefits to their employees that matter. What does that mean? They need to offer benefits people will use and that is meaningful in our chaotic world. Employers should have a time off policy. If a large employer doesn't have unlimited PTO, it is definitely something they should look into doing. It has many advantages. I understand some small businesses may not be able to offer it. Those businesses should have a generous time-off policy and make sure your policy is clearly spelled out. You also want to make sure employees have the opportunity to use their time off. A policy shouldn't only be words on paper. If employees request time off and constantly get denied or constantly end the year with lots of hours left, the policy needs to be re-evaluated, discussion with the employee should happen to make sure they are looking after their own well-being, and finally, review your PTO rollover policies. You also want to make sure you are in compliance with federal and state law. There are some very specific laws regarding time off and sick pay requirements, especially in California. Actually, it wouldn't be a bad place for every employer to start with the California minimums.
Treat people with humanity
Make sure you are treating your employees with respect, empathy, and inclusivity. During these times, you may have employees who may need extra time off to care for a sick family member or themselves. Some states also have specific requirements for COVID paid sick leave. You can view California's law FAQs here. Make sure you have some empathy during these situations. As well, you may have employees who are mentally exhausted and need a few days off to refresh their minds and bodies both mentally and physically. These may be employees who rarely asked for time off before or rarely needed a mental health day. COVID has changed the game for many of us. We have to respect that people know their bodies and minds, so they know if they need a day off or even a few hours away from the video conference meetings. Many more companies are realizing their employees care about diversity and inclusivity. Make sure you are having meaningful conversations and implementing policies that actually make your workplace one of meaning, understanding, empathy, respect, and inclusivity for all types of people.
Remember what you went in business to do
What was the reason you started your business? What is your mission? What are your values? Make sure these things are coming through in your communications. Make sure your mission and values are the motivating factors for you and your employees to come to work each day. It is fine to use data to analyze your processes, but make sure you include conversations with your employees in your process analysis. Make sure their ideas are included and important. In our personal lives, many of us have learned having conversations with people and making connections when we can with our loved ones is important. Move that idea over to the business world, conversations and connections with our employees and stakeholders are just as important as the data behind the numbers.