The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is worrying employers and employees. In times of uncertainty, we all have a basic need to feel safe.  As leaders we have to address that essential need and reinforce to our employees that they are our most valuable asset. 

This is a time for employers to demonstrate empathy and leadership in the workplace. Let employees know that you are committed to their well-being, and take their concerns seriously. One of the best ways for employers to create a “culture of caring” is to have open, honest and clear communications. Share with them the precautionary steps you are taking to keep their workplace safe.

Three Tips to Keep the Workplace Calm and Protected

1. Determine Your Organizational Readiness

  • Review the relevant human resources policies and procedures (travel, sick leave, telecommuting, communicable disease management, etc.).
  • Confirm that your managers and supervisors are clear on what these polices are.
  • Be sure to apply policies fairly and consistently to all employees.
  • Check to be sure that employees are aware of the policies and know how they can get more information, if needed.
  • Review the Business Continuity Plan and Crisis Management Policy. If you do not have these, now is a good time to design them.
  • Determine what the organizations emergency communication methods are (text messages, e-mails, hotlines, websites, etc.)

2. Communicate Clearly—It’s Critical

  • Let your employees know you care. Take their concerns seriously and have an action plan, if needed.
  • Share the organizations communication methods.
  • Have open and honest conversations—this will help reduce stress, anxiety and false rumors (be sure to keep personal information confidential).
  • Educate yourself and your staff on the facts rather than fiction.
  • Share the resources they can go to for credible and verified information, such as: The World Health Organization & The Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Encourage your employees to watch and listen to news outlets that are reputable and state a credible source of their information.

3. Be Precautionary Rather than Reactionary

There are some common-sense approaches that we can all take to protect our workplaces, our employees and their families, such as:

  • Place educational material in common areas.
  • Encourage sick employees to stay home. They should also be symptom free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicines, cough suppressants, etc.) before returning to work.
  • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs, etc.
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down.
  • Advise employees to take caution before traveling by checking the CDC’s travel health notices for their latest recommendations. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

“A culture of caring” is not just talk—it’s believing—and demonstrating—that your organization is genuinely concerned about all employees and their families.

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