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How to Take Care of Employees During COVID-19: 5 Examples from the Best Workplaces

How to Take Care of Employees During COVID-19: 5 Examples from the Best Workplaces

As markets decline and a historic record of over 22 million unemployment claims are filed in the U.S., businesses are struggling to predict what the economic future will look like during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid all the turmoil, there are positive stories of companies doing great things for their employees and communities.

These companies understand that how they respond to COVID-19 today will impact their business well after public health and the economy recovers. A high-trust culture that endures during turbulent times will be the secret sauce to companies who survive and thrive.

Here are how some of the Best WorkplacesTM are going the extra mile to care for employees impacted by COVID-19:

Target puts the most vulnerable employees top of mind

As consumers pour into essential retailers for goods to get them through shelter-in-place orders, ensuring the safety of frontline workers is critical.

In March, Target expanded its sick leave program to protect the health and safety of team members. This includes:

  • Extended paid sick hours for all employees
  • Guaranteeing high-risk team members 30 days of paid leave if they prefer not to work

Target also took steps to ensure employees are supported financially via:

  • A $2/hour wage increase until at least May 2 for hourly employees in all stores and warehouses
  • Financial assistance to employees impacted most by COVID-19, with a matching program for team members who wish to contribute

Wynn Resorts keeps the lights on for its employees

With a predicted $400 Billion in lost revenue, no industry has taken a bigger financial hit than the travel and tourism sector.

The Wynn was the first casino to close in Las Vegas, even before Nevada’s governor ordered a shutdown for 30 days.

What’s more, CEO Matt Maddox confirmed all 15,000 employees will continue to receive pay. In an interview on CNBC, Maddox told viewers that payroll isn’t an expense, but an investment in their biggest asset: their people.

Wynn has committed to paying hourly employees full wages during hotel closures along with expanded medical leave for employees directly impacted by the virus.

Wynn Resorts has also donated $2.5 million worth of protective medical equipment and food to local hospitals and food banks in the Las Vegas area.

Comcast NBC Universal makes layoffs a last resort

Comcast, a fixture on the Fortune 100 Best Big Companies to Work For® listhas made a bold statement in their commitment to support employees.

Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO, announced an investment of $500 million dollars to provide employees continued pay, benefits and aid to those impacted most by the coronavirus.

Brian expressed pride in the Comcast employees on the front lines, who are going above and beyond to uphold their mission of keeping customers connected.

To double down on their mission, Comcast announced it will make Xfinity hotspots across the country available for free for all – including non-customers. As a contribution to broader communities, Roberts and other top executives will donate 100% of their salaries to charities supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.

Horizon Therapeutics amplify communications

Medical workers on the frontline are facing exceptionally difficult circumstances. And healthcare companies are tasked with adapting to new best practices to keep first responders safe while continuing care for patients.

A 2020 winner in the Fortune Best Workplaces in Healthcare & Biopharma, Horizon Therapeutics sets a shining example of how to create an effective communication strategy during a crisis.

In what the company describes as Virtual Leadership Visibility,” communication methods include:

  • Weekly messages from CEO Tim Walbert on the state of the business followed with Q&A sessions, regular town hall meetings to discuss functional changes and coffee chats with employees
  • Weekly leadership webinars to support managers
  • Company-wide challenges to stay connected and boost morale while working remotely, such as wearing Horizon swag during Zoom meetings and sharing ideas on how to stay active
  • A dynamic company intranet serving as the “source of truth” for Horizon-focused COVID-19 support and information, including feature articles on how to work remotely while staying healthy, connected and engaged
  • Regular employee pulse surveys to get fast feedback on leadership decisions

A thorough communication strategy reinforces trust and transparency, while boosting the ability to innovate at all levels of the business.

Workday gets money in the hands of their people

Some of Workday’s values include customer service, integrity, innovation and fun, but at the very top of the list is their people.

On March 16th, Workday announced a one-time payment – equivalent to two weeks’ pay – as a cash bonus for all employees to offset unforeseen costs stemming from COVID-19.

In addition to their early work from home (WFH) policy, Workday is making employee well-being a top priority by expanding childcare benefits and sick leave policies. 

These Best Workplaces provide guidance on how to ensure your workforce is well protected, well-compensated and well cared for. To learn more on how to equip your organization for dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus, join us for our weekly video conversation “Together” and visit our COVID-19 resource hub.

Raven Tolbert