For many, 2020 has been far from the professional year they’d hoped. Between the Australian bushfires and Brexit, many employees the world over were already under pressure – yet now, it’s a completely different ballgame.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the world like a tonne of bricks, and its impacts are being felt everywhere. As economies essentially grind to a halt, entire cities shut down and most people are forced to work from home, many of us in HR are scratching our head and wondering – how can we best support our people in this time? And those of us that offer benefits to employees, for example gym memberships or even in-person EAP services, are left wondering what we can even offer to help in this challenging time.
Here’s 5 benefits your people need right now, and how to provide them:
Benefit 1: Leaders with empathy
Experts say that we’re actually experiencing two contagions at the moment: the coronavirus itself, and the ensuing panic that’s sweeping the globe. Although we all recognise that the pandemic will be temporary, it’s had a material effect on many people’s lives, including plummeting the stock exchange to near depression-level lows, and increasing unemployment to an expected 15%.
Given the level of panic and fear at the moment, one of the most important benefits you can offer your people, albeit indirect, is a leadership team equipped with the empathy to understand what they’re experiencing. As many people will now be working from home, your leaders also need to be equipped with exceptional communication skills so they can give your people clarity and certainty.
Don’t think your leaders are quite measuring up? Consider exploring virtual training options to get them up to speed, ASAP.
Benefit 2: Online fitness options
With the closure of just about all in-person exercise options temporarily, those of us that offer gym memberships as a benefit are currently wasting our money – and also wasting the opportunity to pass this benefit on to our people.
Exercise is critical in everyday life, and even more so in a crisis when there’s multiple pressures on home and family life. And fortunately, since gyms have closed, hundreds of thousands of virtual options have popped up in their place, giving your people the opportunity to exercise at a time that suits them best.
Your people don’t simply want exercise right now, they need it – so invest in a virtual option.
Benefit 3: Financial advice
Given the current level of economic uncertainty, one thing that almost all your people will need will be financial advice in some way, shape or form.
If you’ve got an older workforce, it’s likely that they’ll need more urgent financial advice or counselling, given that many people’s superannuations have now lost up to 12% since the crisis hit.
For your people that aren’t nearing retiring, they may need advice on mortgage management, especially if their partner has lost a job.
Benefit 4: Upskilling
With many industries effectively shutting down and many more slowing down, your people may find that if they’re working from home, they may not have that much to do. Saying that though, they may also have children at home so it may not be reasonable to expect the same amount of productivity as before.
If they are in the fortunate position though where they do have spare hours in the day, offering them the option to upskill, virtually, might be the perfect opportunity for now. It will help them keep their mind busy, and work towards a worthwhile goal which is important in times of uncertainty.
Benefit 5: On-demand EAP
The mental health effects of the current crisis cannot be underestimated. Experts say that when quarantined, it’s ‘normal’ to feel anxious, stressed, confused and even angry,
And although these feelings may subside as the crisis eases, there’s no doubt that they can affect your team right now and their ability to work productively.
Providing EAP support is essential, but clearly, in a pandemic, face-to-face support is not appropriate. So when you’re providing EAP support, ensure you do so virtually, and preferably with a pay-per-session model. This type of offering will enable you to free up much needed funding to support your team in other ways during this difficult time.