April 7, 2020

Engaging and caring for your workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jarrett Jedlicka, VP & Principal, Industry Advisory – Healthcare at Ceridian shares how organisations can support employee wellness and engagement during times of crisis.

During a global crisis, employee wellness can suffer in several different ways – whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, or a combination of all three.

Some industries – such as healthcare, food retail, and distribution – are experiencing increased demand, putting further strain on the workforce. Absenteeism rates are climbing due to employee illness, the need to care for sick family members, fear of contagion, and more. 

Both our personal and work lives are changing as everyday routines are uprooted. During this time, employees are likely experiencing a wide range of emotions, including concerns about their health, the pressure to care for family members, anxiety over job and financial security, and stress due to disruption of normalcy.

While organisations put their focus on the processes required for business continuity, leaders must not forget about their most valuable asset, their people. The best models for responding to crises are those that balance focusing on processes while also caring for their people.

Here’s how organisations can support employees’ well-being during unprecedented change and reinforce wellness in the workplace.

Increase visibility

Maintaining visibility during times of change is essential for employees to feel informed. A well-defined and widely understood communication process can help create trust within the organisation and ensure employees are up to date on company information, policies, and organisational changes.

It’s also important to ensure employees know where to access company information and updates, and where they can get help or support. Leveraging a system to centralise company information will help organisations deploy time-sensitive material quickly across the entire workforce. 

Additionally, leaders will need to rethink their standard leadership tactics such as “walking the floor” and having in-person one-on-ones. During a crisis, leaders are traditionally coached to be highly visible and physically present so employees can connect and interact. Given today’s unique scenario, leaders must adapt and effectively leverage digital platforms to maintain visibility through virtual office hours, all-hands calls, and video chat one-on-ones.

Encourage two-way communication 

While it’s critical that organisations are ensuring visibility every step of the way as changes occur, it’s just as important for employers to ensure employees’ voices are heard. Organisations can provide the workforce with a platform to voice their opinions and concerns. Engagement analysis tools allow organisations to collect feedback from people and identify patterns and trends in employees’ emotional states. With this information, organisations can build action plans to respond quickly to employee concerns, as well as help reduce turnover, burnout, and absenteeism.

Empower employees to manage their schedules

As COVID-19 continues to shake up the routines of the workforce and their families, further flexibility is needed. At the same time, businesses must meet demand. Organisations must empower employees to balance their work and personal matters by allowing their people to schedule time away from work, or work on flexible schedules to address personal matters. 

Additionally, workforces have dispersed as some employees are transitioning to a work from home model, while others may need to work on-site. Regardless of where employees are, they will need access to their schedules from anywhere, at any time. 

Provide an accessible pay experience 

When employees are financially stressed, both their health and work performance can suffer. In Ceridian’s UK Pay Experience Report, 70% of employees surveyed said they feel at least slightly stressed about money on a regular basis. Today, the odds of slipping into a recession are increasingly likely, creating further anxiety. Concern about financial health is one of the single biggest causes of stress to employees, impacting mental and physical health if left unchecked.

Using cloud based technologies, organisations can give the workforce access information about their pay from their own mobile, tablet or laptop which will give employees greater visibility of their pay and reduce stress around finances.

Provide holistic benefits

Employees are grappling with many changes and navigating day-to-day life with an uncertain future. Organisations can offer wellness programs that include mental health benefits to help ensure workers have access to the type of care needed to prevent, treat, or manage psychological distress and burnout.

Taking it a step further, organisations have begun using technology, like online benefits selection tools, to help employees customise their benefits packages to meet their individual needs.  

Maintain a positive employee experience 

Change is happening daily and maintaining a positive and consistent employee experience during this uncertain time will help organisations drive continued employee performance and engagement. Leadership must set the tone for the workforce, and this starts with genuine engagement, as well as open and honest conversations every step of the way.

Offering an intuitive, personalised, and consistent experience – from communication to benefits and the way employees are paid – will reduce friction points and help employees manage stress and anxiety. 

Join our upcoming webinar on April 15 to learn more about how organisations can support employee wellness and engagement during times of crisis.

Ceridian Institute

The Ceridian Institute provides forward-looking insights that build awareness and advocacy of the trends and challenges facing the workplace. The Institute is composed of industry leaders from Ceridian’s Industry, Value, and Solution advisories, reflecting the team’s research into the future of work and business intelligence.

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Jarrett Jedlicka

Jarrett has held a number of senior positions at leading healthcare and technology organisations and is a contributing author to Ceridian's thought leadership. 

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