By Don Garlitz, SVP Partnerships, bswift, A CVS Health Company
We live in uncertain times. Workers are troubled about health risks, economic challenges and social and political turmoil. Any one of these concerns alone could seem overwhelming at times, but the confluence of these worries is presenting the American workforce with a new level of stress. Along with this crisis, however, employers also have the opportunity to improve the lives of their employees.
Undoubtedly, some employee concerns can be eased at the workplace, and employers that figure out how to address these issues will be better set up for success. Here are four issues employers can address to ease the minds of employees:
- Safety first. Minimizing the risk of contracting COVID-19 should be part of every employer’s safety plan. For many employers, this has meant a work from home strategy, but with the arrival of the vaccine, new questions are surfacing about when and how office work can safely resume. Will employees respond well to wearing masks all day at the office? What percentage of your workforce will you be able to accommodate in an office setting that is socially distanced? Will people opt out of video conferencing when required to wear masks at the office, and if so, will personal connections suffer? Will employees volunteer for the vaccine, and if not, will they still be allowed to come back to the office? Will travel restrictions be imposed for employees that opt out of the vaccine? Learn how Americans feel about getting the vaccine, and consider how you can educate and share resources around it to help them make the best health decisions for themselves as you develop your return to work plan. Good science should underpin your decisions, including the science of psychology.
- Cash is king. Shutdowns and layoffs have plagued the minds of many workers, whether they have been directly affected by job loss or hours reductions. Even those who have been spared so far from these issues have likely considered the contingency of job loss. While long-term financial security remains a high priority, millions are in trouble in terms of immediate cash needs. The constant worry of excessive personal debt and thin cash reserves can cause high stress for employees, and this can in turn negatively affect their work productivity. There is no silver bullet to solve this issue, but you can provide your employees with resources to help guide them in the right direction. How can you provide financial education, encourage prudent personal planning and help your employees get on a better path? If you can become part of their solution, loyalty will be the currency of your ROI.
- A cause to unite us. This past year, our country has experienced significant unrest due to racial injustice and inequality. In response, many companies have been taking the time to reevaluate and redefine their goals and values around diversity and inclusion. While the topics of race, diversity and inclusion can be sensitive at times, avoiding the discussion of these topics in the workplace can leave many employees feeling marginalized and unheard. By creating a safe and empathetic space for employees to have meaningful discourse on these topics, share personal experiences and suggest ideas for improvement, you can better unite your workforce around this social cause and strengthen your company’s cohesiveness overall. The key to long-term success in this area is holding yourself accountable for meaningful results.
- Plans that deliver. Employee benefit programs remain among the most expensive items on a profit and loss statement. Cost control is always important, and your opportunity is to make the most of the spend. Remembering that the value of benefits is as much a matter of the heart and mind as the pocketbook will keep you grounded in the basics that will bring top results. Your most important benefits challenge is in communicating how your benefits can truly deliver peace of mind.
This is the time to cement employee loyalty through interventions that deliver when it really counts. Timely action will help set you apart in a business world that is more competitive than ever, and your focus on employee state of mind will be paramount to your joint success.