Whenever I meet someone new and they find out where I work, the inevitable question comes: is it really a great place to work?
My answer is always, "Yes.", How my managers and colleagues have responded in the current crisis has turned that yes into, “Hell yes!”
Our leaders at Great Place to Work® understand the importance of keeping the well-being of employees top of mind. Thanks to our research, insights from our customers and lessons from our own workplace, we’ve identified many ways to positively impact employees as we navigate COVID-19.
Here are several ways we’re supporting employees through this crisis:
1. Use multiple channels of communication
The most valuable thing you can offer employees right now is information and a listening ear.
As media outlets have become an endless feed of breaking news and alarming updates, it’s safe to say people everywhere are experiencing anxiety and uncertainty.
These conditions create the opportunity for leaders to step in and emotionally connect with their team. Leaders are able to give employees the information they need most, like resources and insights on health of the business and our communities.
Information shouldn’t flow exclusively from the top down – use this time to get a pulse on your people and involve them in the path forward. Don’t assume you know the needs and concerns of your employees — ask them!
Some current initiatives at Great Place to Work include:
- “95 Conversations”
Through this program started in 2018, every employee has a 45-minute conversation together with their direct manager, our Chief People Officer and CEO Michael Bush.
In these conversations, employees reflect on how they are living the company's values, where they want to focus their personal and professional development and, (especially important at this time) their financial wellness and psychological safety.
- Increased frequency of all company communications
Our bi-weekly all company meetings have become weekly ones to give employees more direct and regular communication from our CEO.
We use video calls and encourage everyone to turn on their camera so we can see each other's faces (even if you haven't combed your hair yet!).
- Dedicated chat channel
We created a special channel on our group chat platform (we use Microsoft Teams) to keep employees updated on COVID-19-related news – including a thread on best practices to find toilet paper.
- Pulse Survey
We used our own employee survey platform Emprising™ to conduct a company-wide 10 question pulse survey focused on employee wellness and psychological safety. The results will then be discussed company-wide so all can feel a part of the decisions on actions going forward.
2. Give financial support
Financial concerns are at top of mind for everyone, at all levels of the organization. Leaders must talk about money with their people.
Last year, our company set up a “CARE4U” fund where every employee can get $5,000/year. Employees get a monthly stipend to spend on just about anything, including bills, groceries, helping family, extended learning and more.
Part of the idea behind this unique benefit is that 40% of American households when faced with an emergency.
This money provides a monthly resource to tap into if faced with unexpected financial hardship.
Financial support also comes in the form of expert advice. Through financial wellness firm Financial Finesse, we have access to:
- A special “COVID-19 Financial Survival Action Plan” webinar
- 1:1 coaching on financial goals such as building an emergency fund, buying a house and planning for retirement
3. Help your people help others
During a crisis, it's critical to channel your organizational values and remember the common thread between your business and the rest of the world: our shared humanity.
To support small businesses in our communities, employees receive a $25 weekly stipend for themselves (or up to $100 for their families) to order food from a local restaurant (takeout, of course).
This community support models our company value “Care.”
When leaders recognize the concern employees have for others and empower them to make a difference, trust will flourish.
Support employees as full human beings
I hope these examples will give you some inspiration for how to support your own team right now.
Whatever program you design, may they all be created with this in mind: our working selves are just one facet of who we are. And now, more than ever, the way we live outside of work flows into our work.
For more guidance navigating this “new normal” in the workplace, join us every Friday for our information and discussion webinar, “Together”.