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5 Ways to Support Employees During Pandemics, Disasters, and Other Difficult Times

It’s not easy running a business. In trying times, it becomes even harder. Disasters, pandemics, and other events can wreak havoc on your business. While property damage and other issues can be calculated, it’s difficult to measure the impact these events have on a key element of your business – your employees. 

Difficult times can have a direct impact on your employees both professionally and personally. Supporting them during these times can help ease your employees’ situation, which can both resonate with your workforce and help improve productivity. Here are five steps you can take to make a difficult situation better for you and your employees.

An employee working from home during a pandemic.

Frequent, Clear Communication

During difficult times, a lack of information will only create bigger problems. It’s important to act as a voice of reason, providing a clear sense of what’s going on at the office, what’s expected of employees, and providing comfort as necessary.

While disasters, pandemics, and other events may create unusual working situations, good communication can help ease concerns and restore some sense of normalcy. Trying times call for straightforward messages that should be supportive and convey both confidence and security. Be open about the situation, tell them how your business will adapt, and make yourself and other company leaders available for questions. You also want to be very specific about next steps for the company. You may not be able to address everyone’s  concerns immediately communicating these next steps can keep everyone on the same page and eliminate confusion that will only lead to other problems.

In terms of how to communicate these messages, there are a variety of means at your disposal. Certain channels may be more realistic than others depending on the size and nature of your business, but consider using several of these methods to make sure you can reach everyone in your company.

  • Company-wide and department-level emails
  • Posts on company intranet and internet sites
  • Updates on internal communication apps like Slack or HipChat
  • Video meetings through platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams
  • Personalized emails or texts
  • Signs posted onsite

Connect with the Team

While it’s helpful to let employees know that you or a relevant team leader is available for questions, don’t be afraid to take the first step as well if you see individuals who need help. Check in with your employees to see how they’re doing. Even if there’s no update, it’s good to show employees that they’re not alone and that their input is valued.

It can also be beneficial to try and connect the rest of your team when separated due to disaster, pandemic, or other unexpected reasons. Video conferencing and group chat technology can help employees keep in contact and feel less isolated, so utilizing these means for business meetings or even social events like work happy hours can help improve morale in trying times.

Mitigate Risks if Necessary

While clear communication plays a big role in easing concerns, it’s also important to take any necessary actions as well. This includes taking measures to let your employees know that you’re taking their safety seriously. 

Mitigating risks can take many different forms depending on the nature of your business. For a pandemic, this could involve providing facemasks, creating hand-washing stations, and adding measures to enforce social distancing. For a disaster, it could mean fixing any property damage and putting in additional safeguards, such as reinforced windows or other preventative means. Safety training can also educate employees on ways to protect themselves while showing your support for their wellbeing.

Create Flexible Working Situations

In a time when people may be worried about working in close proximity or need to be closer to their loved ones, a little flexibility can go a long way. If employees are concerned about coming into work, consider letting them work from home if it's feasible. You could also loosen up restrictions on work hours so that employees could shape their schedules around personal needs. Not only can these accommodations help create a more family-friendly working environment, it can help alleviate anxiety for any concerned employees.

Don’t Rush a Return to “Normal”

After an event changes the way you do business, it can be tempting to try and get everything back to normal as soon as possible. However, it’s important not to force the situation until you reach a point where you can return to business as usual. 

A disaster, pandemic, or some other trying event is a stressful, even traumatizing time for you and your business. Rushing everyone back in the office before you’re ready can lead to unfocused, upset employees who won’t be able to do their jobs appropriately. It’s best to take everything one step at a time until you can finally return to normal working conditions.

Difficult times make hard choices even harder. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate through these decisions alone. As a PEO, Group Management Services can take the administrative burden off your shoulders and provide guidance through pandemics, disasters, and other events. Contact GMS today to talk to one of our experts about how we can support both you and your employees.

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