Managing through COVID-19: What your Employees Need Most

We are in the thick of an unprecedented time where all aspects of everyday life and business are dictated by the Coronavirus and fear.  Unemployment is at an all time high and businesses have been forced to close their doors.  While this negatively impacts most businesses, the effects to small businesses are most detrimental. For businesses that are deemed essential, it is imperative that leadership rise to the occasion during this global pandemic to inspire hope and resiliency in place of anxiety and uncertainty.  In order to move employees from a place of fear to a place of confidence and engagement, business leaders have to present a clear path forward. 

A forerunner in employee engagement metrics, Gallup, performed a meta-analysis that found four components that employees require of business leadership in times of crisis.  These four components or needs include: trust, compassion, stability, and hope. From their research that reviewed the findings of past crises and applied it to the impact of COVID-19, five actionable practices were derived to act as an audit tool to gauge just how well you are providing your employees with what is needed most in this time of crisis.

1.My leadership has a clear plan of action. During trying times, it is important that employees have faith in leadership to guide them through the obstacles in place.  They need to be able to trust that there is a clear path forward. However, Gallup has found that only 39% of American workers feel that their leadership has communicated a clear plan of action. 

2. I feel well-prepared to do my job. Having the tools you need to do your job is very     important and painfully obvious. With social distancing in play and working from      home becoming the new normal, this is even more important. For those who work in customer facing roles, PPE has become a necessity in addition to the tools needed to do their job.  Those who are new to working from home, now need to ensure they have proper equipment and a conducive home office setting.  In adapting to these new working condition, Gallup has found that 54% of Americans feel they are well-prepared to do their job.

3. My supervisor keeps me informed about what is going on. Communication and transparency are key in dealing with crisis management.  An organization’s response to COVID-19 should be clear and communicated across the entire organization.  However, it is the manager or supervisor who is responsible for providing understanding of the response and helping their direct reports adjust to the changes.  This includes flexibility as well as managing expectations.  Gallup has reported that only 48% of American respondents feel that their  supervisor or manager keeps them informed about what is going on in response to COVID-19.

4. My organization cares about my wellbeing.  A key component associated with employee engagement is employee wellbeing. During this pandemic, many employees are working from home with the added stress of having school aged children at home due to school closures. Flexibility and compassion from employers is imperative with the new normal in work-life balance during this crisis. Gallup has found that less than half of Americans, about 45%, feel like their organizations care about their wellbeing with respect to the impact of COVID-19.

5. Over the past 24 hours, how often have you been practicing social distancing? Don’t be part of the problem. It has been shown by the CDC and other governing agencies that in order to lessen the spread of VOVID-19, social distancing must be practiced continuously and consistently. We live in a time where technology is a vital part of everyday live, and we are fortunate enough to be able to use technology to stay together while we stay home. However, Gallup has found that only 26% percent of Americans reported they ‘Always’ practice social distancing and 40% reported that they practice social distancing ‘Very Often.’

It is highly recommended that you use this free tool to evaluate the pulse of your workforce as soon as possible.  Gallup provides free access to the COVID-19 leadership audit here.  They have found that a high response rate can be achieved in just 48 hours.  If you find that you do not score in the higher range, look at this as an opportunity. Work directly with your employees to find out how you can better provide them with what they need most in terms of trust, compassion, stability, and hope.

Author: Brittany M.

PhD - Community Engagement; MBA - International Business; BS - Biology/Chemistry; Net Impact - Tech for Good Fellow 2017-18; Board member - La Esuelita Arcoiris. Pittsburgh raised. Enjoy DIY crafting, interior decorating, cooking, and learning new things.

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