The COVID-19 outbreak is forcing us to change the way we interact, study, shop, do business and the very way we live. If employers learned anything during this financial crisis, it is that a business is more likely to endure and even thrive during a coronavirus if it finds ways to adapt to ‘a new normal’. Companies that couldn’t imagine a completely remote workforce were able to make a transition without interrupting productivity. At the same time, employees have worked tirelessly to survive these difficult and unprecedented times and keep their businesses afloat.
However, separation from workplaces, colleagues and familiar daily routines has added stress and led to a drop in morale and fragmentation of team cohesion – all of which can result in decreased productivity. That’s why taking care of your team is so critical right now. Here are a few tips on how to take care of your employees and provide much-needed support amid this global pandemic.
Check In With Your Team
Beyond business matters and meetings, offices are public places where Beyond business matters and meetings, offices are public places where people form meaningful connections with their coworkers. A quick “how are you doing?” along the way – a common thing in the office, but once social interaction is completely eliminated, these short conversations become a hot commodity.
For leaders, open and transparent communication becomes more important in difficult times. Even with the chaos that the coronavirus outbreak has brought to the workforce, this isn’t the time to postpone your face-to-face meetings or quick check-ins. Therefore, consider scheduling regular phone calls or online meetings with your direct reports.
Make sure to go beyond work-related communication by asking how they and their families were doing, understanding how Covid-19 affects each employee personally and professionally and showing awareness of their particular challenges. When leaders include a one-on-one and honest conversation and show an understanding of family situations, socioeconomic circumstances and preferences, your staff will feel the individualised support needed to help them accomplish their work goals. More isolated or extroverted colleagues might be having a hard time with lockdown, making these casual chitchats emotionally helpful. This will also help to provide redistributed work tasks among team members and empower each worker to use their expertise to keep the team strong and productive.
Stay Open To New Ideas & Creative Solutions
What worked in the past can be obsolete in the age of coronavirus. Stay open to fresh ideas, encourage your team to think beyond whatever issues and challenges your organisation is facing and focus on creative solutions. Developing an innovative environment is an effective method to prime your staff to discover hidden opportunities for the company.
In a time of great uncertainty and high levels of stress, employees appreciate leaders who seek out and act upon, their input. When the company involve employees in discussions and decision making and encourage thoughts sharing, staff feel trusted, needed and treated as insiders in their organisation. Additionally, consider entrusting your employees with new responsibilities, which can give members of the team confidence and power even while your organisation scrambled to meet the changes. On the other hand, these new responsibilities provide the opportunity to get to know their colleagues better, making them feel important to the company’s success.
Seek For Financial Support
In case you cannot keep your staff because your company has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, you can apply for a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant to keep your team members and cover expenses on their temporary leave. CJRS grant from HMRC will pay 60% of an employee’s wages, up to £1,875 a month while employers will pay 20% of salary for the time workers have been put on flexible furlough or are being furloughed to guarantee they receive 80% (up to £2,500).
To apply for a grant, employers should record affected workforce as ‘furloughed workers’, meaning they continue to receive wages, but cannot work for the organisation or charity. If you want to claim for your employees’ salaries through the CJRS grant, you will need to provide different information about your workers and company, including the application period and the amount claimed, the number of employees being furloughed, UK bank account number, employer PAYE reference number and sort code.
Alternatively, you can use another financial support intended to help small businesses access finance more quickly and cope with the challenges caused by the coronavirus. For instance, CBILS finding (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) offers two options of funding, giving businesses that are experiencing their cash flow disrupted and are losing income flexibility to find the best variant for their company. You can choose between a hassle-free CBILS loan and a flexible CBILS revolving credit facility that is supported by your company accounts.
Encourage Growth & Development
If supervisors care about their workers as people, discuss their career progress and development, and offer opportunities to learn and grow, the company has lower turnover, better productivity and higher sales growth. What’s more, learning increases resilience, improves adaptability and keeps your mind and body active. It’s also an easy way to cope with the boredom some individuals are experiencing from unprecedented downtime.
Suggest that members of the staff engage in professional development opportunities like online courses from top institutions by Coursera or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), learning platforms like Skillshare or LinkedIn Learning. You can also recommend webinars, books, podcasts, TED Talks or simply provide cross-training opportunities.
Host Virtual Social Time
For members of the staff who have never worked at home, social isolation will be deeply felt, especially when people are feeling down. It’s hard to replicate casual encounters by the water cooler, everyday interactions with colleagues or after-work drinks.
Employers should help their team disconnect from work by encouraging their workers to find time to have virtual lunches or happy hours with their coworkers and mark birthdays or other events via video conference calls.
Also, you can host virtual social time by incorporating different fun activities and playing games such as virtual marble, virtual pub quizzes, horse races, bingo or even a book club or team workout over Zoom. Choose any activity that can make your workers looking forward to it each week.