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How to Help Employees Weather the Coronavirus Pandemic

How to Help Employees Weather the Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 isn’t easy for anyone. Remote setups, financial concerns, and general uncertainty can all impact how your team feels and behaves. Find out what you can do to make it easier for employees to manage the stress caused by the pandemic, from implementing wellness programs and creating a sense of community to simply improving your listening.


What's the Current Working Environment?

At the beginning of 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate sat at 3.6%. Almost overnight, the rate skyrocketed to 14.7% in April—a historic high unseen since before World War II.

Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, millions lost jobs and faced financial struggles. Study after study has shown that financial stress drives overall wellbeing. Accordingly, Guardian’s Workforce Well-being Index indicated that workers experienced post-pandemic-outbreak drops in emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing.

While employees are facing volatile stress levels, their confidence in the health of their businesses has improved since the beginning of the outbreak. Still, 1 in 3 say that “their personal financial situation is ‘worse’ now than before the pandemic.” That can’t go unacknowledged.


Employees May Struggle with Emotional Wellness

Your employees need support in this time of crisis because they’re coping with unprecedented shifts in personal and professional life. They could be experiencing concerns about:

  • Job security and money issues
  • Fear for older family members
  • Personal relationship stress
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Learning new technology for remote work
  • Childcare and schooling
People prefer certainty, and, unfortunately, that just isn’t an option right now. As a result, your team could be feeling anything from exhaustion and anxiety to sadness and frustration—or all of the above.


What Can You Do for Your Employees?

Managing a virtual workforce isn’t easy, but it’s up to you to communicate clearly and repeatedly, as well as stay creative and flexible with your team.

That in mind, consider six tips that you can do right now for your employees:

  1. Help Lessen Anxiety: Provide only credible sources of information to employees, such as WHO and CDC
  2. Reduce Feelings of Uncertainty: Employees should be aware of the company’s sick leave and work from home policies and your organization’s disaster preparedness plan
  3. Offer Encouragement and Support: Remember to acknowledge stress, listen to anxieties and concerns, and empathize with employees’ challenges
  4. Create a Sense of Community: Make time for social interaction with your team
  5. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance: It’s okay to turn off the computer at the end of the day
  6. Recognize Changes in Behavior: Including a change in appearance, a decline in work performance, lack of confidence, and an increase in pessimism

Remember that when you support employees now, you can help them successfully transition back to a new sense of normalcy in the future.


How Can an EAP Help? 

An employee assistance program (EAP) is an employee benefit that assists workers with personal or work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional wellbeing.

EAPs generally offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services for employees. Additionally, EAP counselors may also consult with managers and supervisors to address employee and organizational challenges and needs. Even though EAPs are mainly aimed at work-related issues, there are a variety of programs that can assist with problems outside of the workplace.

For employees, EAPs can help with:

  • Health, diet, and wellness
  • Self-assessments
  • Emotions/behaviors
  • Relationships

For employers, EAPs can help with:

  • Mental health workplace consultations
  • Struggling employees
  • Workforce productivity
  • Putting experts in the right place to help employees succeed

This blog was repurposed from a webinar presented by Gene Lanzoni, AVP Thought Leadership at Guardian, and Brian L. Mayhugh, Ph.D., Chief Clinical Officer at IBH Population Health Solutions.

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