What to Do About Employee Wellbeing During a Crisis

Author(s): Jennifer Waxman

Everywhere you turn these days people are talking about COVID-19. Whether it is on the news, in line at the grocery store, dropping off your kids at school, or chatting by the water cooler. Every night on the news the focus is COVID-19. Every newspaper headline is COVID-19. And, if you are anything like me, you are listening to daily podcasts on the status of the situation. People are anxious, stressed, and don’t feel safe even in their own homes.

During times like these organizations more than ever need to show their employees that they care about their wellbeing and that they are supported. And HR teams are often the ones to lead the charge in this area.

When it comes to employee wellbeing there are four key areas to keep in mind:

All four of these will be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, so it is important to prioritize.

So, what can HR do?

  1. Examine current offerings with special attention to the mental and physical supports.
    • Start by focusing on the mental and physical areas.
    • Create a list of the current wellbeing policies and programs that exist within your organization.
    • Identify vendors that you leverage to support wellbeing offerings and engage with them to understand if there will be any impacts to the support they are providing and gather information on how to best leverage their services. For example, reach out to your Employee Assistance Program provider to make sure you have information about the services they provide.
  2. Communicate your current offerings.
    • Make sure your employees know about the wellness offerings your organization has available.
    • Communicate your organization’s wellness offerings multiple times, in multiple ways to ensure employees hear and retain the information. For example, post an article on your company intranet, send a company-wide email, and ask managers to talk to employees about services available in team discussions and provide them with speaking points and links to resources.
  3. Coach managers to make sure they understand their role.
    • Communicate with managers to make sure they understand their role in supporting employees.
    • Give them access to tools and resources.
    • Work with managers to coach and support each other through these trying times.

  4. And last, but certainly not least:

  5. Remember to take care of yourself.
    • As HR professionals we are often in a position that requires us to help employees deal with emotionally challenging situations. This has a toll on our own wellbeing and too often we’re so busy helping others we don’t think about ourselves. It is important to make sure you taking time for yourself and finding ways to relieve to relieve your own stress, whether it is going for a walk, listening to a podcast, or chatting with a friend or colleague.

For inspiration on some ways to improve the wellbeing of employees in your organization as well as yourself, look to the Sample Wellbeing Initiatives List and Resilience Techniques Catalog associated with research by McLean & Company on providing balanced wellbeing programs and developing a resilient workforce.

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