From the initial stay-at-home orders in March to the continued reopening of commercial spaces today, employers had to make tough choices for their business and people. In these unprecedented times, traditional business continuity plans fell short in meeting new health and safety protocols. Leadership teams have had to rely on their head and hearts to come up with strategies that work for the entire organization.
Putting People First
Employees make up the backbone of any successful business. As such, companies across the globe prioritized plans that put their people’s well-being first. From financial aid to wellness programs, employers developed solutions to make the current situation less stressful for their employees.
The measures that were taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 put a strain on people’s wallets. With some having moved to a new condo or house before the crisis, many had financial obligations that were affected.
• Employers provided financial assistance to help employees cover the cost of remote work. Verizon Media, for instance, increased compensation for employees who didn’t have the option to work from home.
• Employers advised their payroll teams to adjust their compensation strategies to provide employees with the necessary financial support. Many chose to distribute wages weekly rather than on a bi-monthly basis at the height of the crisis.
Remote Work Support
Before the pandemic, only 5% of the US workforce had a work-at-home setup. This quickly changed as a government-mandated lockdown was implemented. Companies made the necessary adjustments to ensure business continuity.
• Employers provided desktop computers or laptops to make the transition easier. Shopify provided their employees with an allowance to purchase items for their home offices.
• Managers coordinated with employees to create new schedules, so they could meet deadlines without having to put their household obligations on hold. The same flexibility was extended to in-house employees, resulting in a compressed workweek.
Mental Well-being Support
Initially, most of the attention went to people’s physical well-being. But leadership teams were quick to realize that their employees’ mental well-being was put at risk because of the stress of the pandemic. HR teams were tasked to develop programs that promoted mental and emotional wellness at home.
• Employers provided employees with additional days off to give them more time to rest and prevent burnout. Google instructed employees to take time off leading up to long weekends, for their collective well-being.
• HR teams provided employees with different wellness resources, such as virtual counseling and well-being calls, to give them the mental and emotional support they need.
As the world continues to adjust for the long-term impact of the COVID-19 crisis, companies are adopting changes that protect their business and people. Although the situation made shortcomings obvious, it also helped companies identify their key business areas.
The COVID-19 crisis allowed employers to learn the importance of leading with their people in mind. It helped leaders to demonstrate the impact of taking a compassionate and human-centered approach to business. This has created a new work environment that puts people first.