There’s a lot of talking going on these days. Someone always seems to be talking about political leaders, racial injustice, the police, school closures, a presidential election, unemployment, the Supreme Court, antibodies and of course, COVID-19. Important issues, no doubt, but perhaps these topics would be better served if there was less talking to/at and more interactive exchanging of ideas with a healthy dose of the vanishing art of listening. As the author, Yehuda Berg stated, “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” Perhaps more than ever we could use the healing power of words. Less divisive discourse and more conversational connectivity. Now you’re talking.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our economy, our health care system, our bodies and our mental health. Employees have more to worry about outside the office than ever before. Your employees’ well-being should be a paramount concern right now. Having remote employees makes it more difficult to identify those who may be struggling. Communicating well and frequently with employees is one way to combat the challenge of having a remote workforce and minimal facetime. Let your employees know “out of sight” in no way means “out of mind” at your organization. Here are some talking points you can use to get the conversation started.
“I am here and understand what you are going through.” You can say this and mean it. We are all experiencing the challenges of this pandemic together and can empathize with one another on many levels. Your employees may be feeling even more vulnerable than you, wondering if they may lose their job and essential benefits like health insurance. To the extent possible, reassure them the company is dedicated to bringing the workforce back and is committed to providing them resources to get through the pandemic. While everyone wants to “get back to work,” many employees may feel anxiety about just that. Communicate steps the company is taking to ensure their safety at the office in terms of cleaning and enforcing social distancing. Communicate any new policies concerning visitors to the workplace, PTO and vacation donation.
“This is a scary time, and I’m available by phone, text or email any time to discuss your concerns.” There is nothing worse than getting no or a delayed response from a text or email to a coworker. Communicate your preferred means of communication with your staff and immediately acknowledge receipt of any email or text. There are already many unknowns with this pandemic. Your employees should be assured your response time is not one of them.
“Let’s do a quick check-in via Zoom on Friday at 10:00 a.m.” Use virtual meeting options like Zoom or JoinMe to check in with your employees regularly, not only to discuss work projects, but also to see how they are doing and coping. Encourage teams to use these platforms as well to stay connected in a “face-to-face” way. Virtual meetings can go a long way towards combating feelings of loneliness and isolation in others. Be on the lookout for significant changes in your employees’ personalities during these meetings which could be a sign the employee is struggling.
“This would be a great time for you to take that online training class you mentioned.” Not only will online training help your employees sharpen their skills, it is also a much-needed distraction from everyday stresses. There are numerous online vendors that have expanded their online training modules amid the pandemic. Do a little research and offer some suggestions to your staff.
“With so much going on, I just want to make sure you know we have an EAP that is providing some great services right now.” Dealing with depression or just feeling blue can be as easy as a click or phone call away with your EAP. This is the perfect time to lean on the services of your EAP to assist with many of the following challenges that may be impacting your employees and their families: Fear and isolation, substance abuse disorders, elder/child care issues, financial challenges, housing concerns, marriage/partner issues, parenting challenges and grief. Be sure to provide your employees relevant website and phone information for your EAP and remind them the service is free.
“Did you know our health insurance provider has a COVID-19 resource center?” Most health insurance companies are offering access to expanded services during the pandemic. UnitedHealthcare, for example, has a COVID-19 resource center with a symptom checker, a testing center locator, the ability to talk to a doctor through a telehealth platform, and practical guidance on staying safe and healthy, mentally and physically. UnitedHealthcare also has a free 24/7 emotional support line staffed by professionally trained mental health experts, an on-demand emotional support mobile app and a crisis text line allowing plan participants to connect with a crisis counselor. Providing health insurance to your employees is expensive. Be sure you take advantage of all the providers have to offer right now.
Call Smart HR
Smart HR consultants take care to engage in thoughtful, meaningful dialogue with their clients and understand that while words hold power, so does silence. Smart HR consultants are well versed in all aspects of HR but know when to be silent and let you do the talking to gain a better understanding of your organization and its unique needs. You can be assured all communications with Smart HR will be mindful, respectful and compassionate. Call today.