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Operating a business has been the challenge of a lifetime as of late. If you have employees, it’s imperative to retain as many of them as possible. We are supposedly amid “The Great Resignation” and experiencing a unique labor shortage.
Whatever the reason for this shortage, whether it’s a case of employees reflecting on life and wanting a chance at change or a job loss from the turmoil caused by the pandemic, the question to ask is who will be returning to the workplace (whether literally or figuratively). To maintain your company brand, you will need to know what your people have experienced and how they’re coping as the proverbial doors open again. While some companies are planning a full, in-person return, some brands might be planning a more hybrid approach to work. Whatever the case, it’s become apparent that caring for our employees is more important than ever. This is important even if you opt for a hybrid office (with a mix of on-site and off-site work) or a remote model.
Can your team perform the same or, in this case, better than before? Understand that you don’t run a mental health clinic or possess the answer to every question, but you do need to put in the work to ensure your work model supports your employees. It will be crucial to your success if you address this, especially given the hardships endured over the last two years.
Setting up basic resources is a starting point in getting employees the help they need to thrive. I wrote a piece for Forbes HR Council regarding the reopening of businesses and what that will entail for the business owner. But here I’d like to talk about how employers can properly support staff, whether they’re still working remotely or operating a hybrid model.
I recommend reviewing some resources available from the CDC on the issue here. The CDC states, “Whether you are going to work or working from home, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably changed the way you work. Fear and anxiety about this new disease and other strong emotions can be overwhelming, and workplace stress can lead to burnout.”
If you offer group insurance, it may do you well to contact the contract administrator to see what mental health coverage or options apply. Consider enlisting the help of your health carrier and have an ambassador educate your employees on their coverage options, especially as it relates to mental health. Giving employees the discretion to better understand the options available to them empowers them to make decisions for their unique needs.
I would suggest that, if possible, have specific days where you gather together as a clan and don’t talk specifically about work. Just sit and observe the interactions and connections that take place, and if only clusters of employees can do this due to busy schedules or the fact that your staff are still working remotely, I recommend having these dedicated days when possible. You can do this virtually too. Share your common observations together, and consider catering or sending restaurant gift certificates for your staff so you can enjoy good food together (whether in-person or remotely). Perhaps employ regional cuisine ambassadors for the day to make it fun. We all are learning what works in real time, so try some things out and don’t be afraid to break a few eggs.
You need to prioritize creating an environment that caters to the needs of your staff so they are at optimum performance — maintenance of this culture is important. Don’t let your people break down. Lastly, humor is a must when working — period. It should be embraced, but not at anyone’s expense or with malice. Strive for healthy cohesion.
Your business is a brand, and your employees are your biggest asset. If you must rely on people to deliver you services or goods and distinguish your company, their well-being is your company’s well-being. Let’s give them the tools and support they need — it’s good for your team and the bottom line.