How You Can Support Your Employees Right Now

How You Can Support Your Employees Right Now

By David DeMoss

Let’s face it, we’re all a little stressed right now. As an employer, you may be stressed about declining business, how to keep open or when to re-open. On the flip side, employees may be fearful about losing their jobs and paying their bills. Even for those who have a certain level of job security, staying indoors all day, every day, on top of a lack of socialization can take a toll on people mentally. Fortunately, there are a few things employers can do to support their team during this uncertainty.

When employees feel the threat of financial instability, it not only causes them to miss work more often due to stress, but it can also prevent some of them from bringing their most productive self to work. Providing support to employees by giving them sick days, paid leave, competitive salaries, as well as setting them up with a 401(k) or Roth IRA lets them know that you care and want to help invest in their future. In addition, it’s a good idea to create an open-door policy, and let your employees know that you’re there to hear about their questions or concerns whenever the situation arises. If you can, schedule meetings with employees individually to check-in with them and see if they’re enjoying their time working with you and if there’s anything they think could be improved or changed. Just knowing that they can be honest and discuss what’s going on will create a greater sense of camaraderie and trust between you and your team. 

Now that most of us are working from home, you may have heard that many employers have strict rules in place — such as monitoring employees’ computer activity at all times. While this may be necessary for some jobs, the majority of business owners do not need to be continuously tracking activity, and it’s only going to add more stress to everyone’s day. If possible, ease up on working-from-home restrictions to let your team know that you trust them to get the work done. There may be some days that are more productive than others, but the current circumstances are novel and scary for everyone, so while it can be difficult at times, it’s important to have patience while we adjust to this new normal. Read the full article by Rashan Dixon below.

You may be worried about your business, but you aren’t the only one stressed out. Right now, your team members are worried about their careers, their families and their futures. No matter how much the current public health- and economic-crisis has impacted you, your team needs its leader now more than ever.

Even if you’ve avoided eliminating positions in your business thus far, people are worried. Unemployment numbers have already hit record highs, and Gallup reports that a quarter of American employees fear they’ll lose their jobs.

Workers and companies fortunate enough to stay open during quarantine orders still face unique challenges. Employees who have never worked from home now spend every hour indoors. People who loved to flaunt their extroverted selves on weekends now make do with video conferences and virtual Netflix parties. In uncharted territory with a muddled future, entrepreneurs must not abandon their teams in their moment of greatest need.

Keep your team safe, supported and productive by acting as their most valuable ally. Here’s a guide to getting started.

1. Help insulate them from financial hardship

People who worry about their financial situations miss work more frequently than their financially secure peers. Concerns about financial stability also affect productivity on the job. Ironically, the people who need money the most are more likely to call in sick or fail to do their best work.

Give workers the leg up they need by empowering them to create some distance from the threat of financial hardship. Help employees access financial aid resources and save for the future by working with a small business 401(k) provider like Guideline. Look for a low-fee provider that makes it as easy as possible for employees to manage their retirement to show you care about their financial future.

Other perks, such as paid sick leave and competitive salaries, can help alleviate the stress of bills and security. New generations saddled with college debt also appreciate student loan repayment assistance. Take care of your employees, and they’ll return the favor by bringing their best selves to work every day.

2. Get proactive about checking in

Open-door policies force employees to instigate. Someone who has a problem doesn’t want to barge in and ruin your day, especially if you’re as busy as most small business owners. You may believe that making yourself available is enough, but that mindset could lead your best employees to leave for greener pastures if they don’t feel heard.

Rather than take a passive role in your team’s well-being, take it upon yourself to bring up potential issues before they drive your best workers away. Schedule regular one-on-one talks to discuss topics not related to current projects. What would your employees like to see changed? Which challenges have stuck with them over the past few weeks? Do they get along with their peers? You don’t have to act on every small complaint, but by offering a sympathetic ear, you can at least keep small issues from growing into big problems.

When you check in with your team, keep it visual. Remote team members appreciate videoconferences when they can’t make it into the office. In permanent work-from-home situations, fly employees in at least twice a year to maintain personal connections.

3. Relax or eliminate excessive rules

Cut the bloat from your employee handbook and role descriptions. As businesses grow, isolated incidents lead founders to create company wide rules that may not facilitate productivity as much as they hinder workers’s ability to do their jobs. By slashing your guidelines to the bare minimum, you demonstrate to employees that you trust their good judgment.

A display of trust proves to employees that you believe in their honesty and productivity without the need for frivolous guidelines. Your workers have enough to deal with outside of the (home) office; don’t add to their misery by piling on new remote work regulations. If anyone abuses the freedom, have a serious conversation or find someone new who doesn’t. A person who wants to slack will find a way, rules or no rules, but a dedicated worker doesn’t need rules to flourish.

Monitor performance metrics in this new normal, and set expectations based on that reality. You may discover that productivity spikes in certain areas and craters in others. Let employees work how and when they can, then play the evaluator once you have a more defined plan.

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