Since the COVID-19 (coronavirus) has been characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, many companies have made adjustments to the way they keep employees and their families safe and healthy.
Providing support is a different game now — maybe the majority of your workforce is working remotely, or you’re not sure which benefits are most important to promote. You’ll still want to push projects forward and build community and culture, but now you’ll want to do it in light of the crisis. Here are some tips to consider as you strategize the next few months.
You might be wondering what happens to company events or lunch and learns in this time of social distancing. You can start by taking advantage of video conferencing services like Cisco Webex or Zoom for internal meetings and conversations with clients. You can also consider sending quick-hit emails instead of home mailers, or text messages instead of desk drops. And don’t forget to take advantage of your intranet or benefits website — create a dedicated COVID-19 page that you can update regularly as things evolve.
Re-think, don’t cancel
Just because you can’t have your event onsite doesn’t mean it can’t happen. You’ll still want to build community and culture, just like before — and now it’s more important than ever. If you had a company-wide step challenge planned for May, keep it on the schedule and run it through a digital platform with a social feed and leaderboard, where people can still get their daily dose of competition. People all over the globe are still challenging one another to be physically active (e.g. #10for10challenge), just from a distance!
Promote just-in-time resources
Employees are looking for resources and benefits that can help them at the moment as they are experiencing the COVID-19 crisis.
- Telemedicine: If you offer a telemedicine benefit, let employees know this is a safe and convenient option if they would like to talk about the virus with a healthcare provider or think they are experiencing symptoms.
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP): From 24/7 news coverage to its effect on the world, COVID-19 can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. If you offer an EAP, now’s the time to promote it — especially if your provider offers virtual support like online self-help resources or virtual behavioral health services.
- Wellness resources: Do you offer wellness resources such as discounts for apps like Headspace, Calm, or Masterclass? What about free online exercise classes? Let employees know that you care about helping them stay well physically and mentally, even if it’s from afar for a while.
- Financial resources: In addition to anxiety about physical wellness, employees may also be feeling uncertain about financial market volatility. You can alleviate some of those concerns by reminding employees of their available financial wellbeing programs and resources. Many financial administrators are also offering workshops on timely topics that you can promote to your employees. From employees who are planning to retire soon to employees who are ready to buy their first home, financial security is top of mind for most right now.
- Childcare Benefits: If you have employees who are still required to work in an office building or onsite location, consider promoting your childcare benefits, such as Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), discounts on backup care, or onsite childcare services, especially if you are extending the benefit of some of those services.
Remember, the COVID-19 crisis is constantly changing, and new updates are unveiled by the hour. So, you may need to adjust your communication strategy as needed. And now more than ever your employees are looking to you for leadership. Let them know that you’re here for them and that they have the benefits to help. And, be open to hearing their feedback and concerns, so you can continue to support them through this time.