Employees and Pandemic
By Amanda Hosey
The COVID-19 pandemic has put excess stress on everyone, and our employees are no different. They are struggling with fear they might be laid off or that loved ones might die. They worry about the struggling economy. In many cases, they are having to find creative ways to care for and teach children who can’t go to school. They are venturing out every day into a dangerous world where they could get sick and not be able to provide for their families, and these stressors can lead to problems like employee burnout and disengagement.
All this is to say, remember your employees are people, too, who have all the very real concerns that you do. And no matter how hard they try to be the best possible employees right now, sometimes they’ll fall short because the stress of 2020 is a lot to bear.
The pandemic has greatly heightened “employee burnout.” A recent study from Eagle Hill Consulting found burnout was up 13% from April, when quarantine stress had already increased burnout stats. Nearly two thirds of employees now express burnout, with 35% saying it’s due to pandemic stress.
With labor costs consistently the highest expenditure for businesses, and the cost of replacing employees so high, doing what we can to keep from losing employees (especially those who reliably impressed us pre-pandemic) is increasingly important.
These are unprecedented times, so it can be hard to know smart protocols for keeping employees engaged, but there are some tried-and-true strategies to fall back on.
Regular checkups: Talk to employees frequently to watch for warning signs they are checking out. It can be easy to push check-ins to the backburner, but doing so can be detrimental. The relationships we build with employees create loyalty, which keeps them coming back, and trust, which gives them the room to talk openly with you about issues that might be making them consider leaving.
Recognize success and hard work: Now, more than ever, employees need to know their dedication is appreciated, whether that comes in the form of a shout out for a positive customer review, thank-you doughnuts in the breakroom after a busy week, or another recognition of work.
Diversifying and training: The monotony of doing the same thing every day can be trying in the best of times, but now, when home life is also monotonous (so many “extracurriculars” are unavailable due to pandemic restrictions) a little variety at work is appreciated. Consider working on some cross-training initiatives with employees to allow them to find new purpose during this time of limitations.
Allowing employees growth and learning opportunities makes them feel valued. And one positive for business owners to come from the pandemic is the availability and affordability of online training.
The Restoration Technical Institute, in collaboration with ISSA, is offering regular, live, online (with hands-on kits!) certifications in things like CCT and WRT. Visit issa.com/events for more on that. And trade shows, often cost prohibitive to small business’ employees, are now an option, as they move online too. ISSA Show North America recently converted its show to a virtual experience, which will take place November 16-19.
Shows are looking for ways to provide extra value. ISSA Show, for instance, will offer a mix of live and on-demand programs, and attendees will have ongoing access to any of the educational programs through the end of March 2021. More on the show can be found at issashow.com.
I know it’s a hard time for you, too, but remember to keep looking for ways to show your employees you appreciate their work and want to help them grow and stay connected with the company without experiencing employee burnout. Keep your team strong, and keep soldiering on!
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February 21, 2023