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How Are You Supporting Your Employees Who Are Still Going into Work?

March 24, 2020
By Josh Rogers

As the world attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19, businesses everywhere have instructed employees (who can) to do their jobs from home. For workers in manufacturing plants, distribution facilities, call centers, service depots and retail locations, this isn’t an option. If these operations have been able to continue in your company, it’s critical that the employees performing these activities are informed, engaged and recognized as they work through the pandemic – especially if their colleagues in other parts of the business are able to work from home. Do these six things to ensure the people who are driving your business forward on the front lines feel supported by their leaders and co-workers.

Mobilize your executives in thanking the teams who are still working. If your facilities have video capabilities, send a video in which each of your senior leaders shares a personal word of thanks to the frontline heroes keeping operations moving – calling out notable achievements, acknowledging workers’ personal commitment and sacrifices, and providing encouragement – as they continue enabling you to serve the customers who depend on you. Don’t forget subtitles and translations. If video isn’t viable, capture these sentiments in written format and share on digital signs or via your managers.

Activate supervisors. Your people managers are the key to reaching frontline workers. And the manager-as-communicator role never has been more important. Provide supervisors with resources to communicate why their teams are essential to business continuity, along with regular updates on the state of the business/team/facility. Underscore with supervisors the importance of listening; being a conduit for their teams’ questions, concerns and suggestions; and recognizing team wins and successes.

Share wins to share hope. As your teams in other parts of the world come back online and their ways of life begin to normalize, report what you’re hearing from them to bolster teams working in places where the curve has yet to flatten. Better yet, enlist your leaders from these recovering locations to personally share with the rest of the company their first-hand accounts of weathering the worst of the outbreak. Reassuring video messages and photos of local teams getting back to business as usual can help boost morale in geographies where conditions remain critical.

Thank them often and meaningfully. This team is rallying for you. Rally for them. Feed them – frequently – if you can do it in a safe and healthy way (individually packaged meals distributed with appropriate social distance). In the process, you can support local restaurants who need the business. You can also send a letter from your CEO to these employees’ homes, thanking them and their families for their efforts to keep your business moving forward and your customers’ needs met.

Ask everyone else to thank them too. If video is an option at these facilities, issue a call for selfies in which employees from other parts of the business hold up a sign featuring a message of thanks to those who are still on the front lines; share a supercut with employees worldwide. You can also remind these workers you value them every day by creating banners emblazoned with a message of thanks from employees everywhere. Display the banners prominently in locations where people are still working.

Take good care of them. Do everything in your power to give your employees a safe and healthy environment to work in. Empower them to speak up if they identify potential health and safety risks. Address their concerns and let them know the precautions you’re taking to protect them.