The Covid 19 pandemic is the worst crisis faced by the current workforce in their lifetime. With the exponential increase in cases during the second wave, most of the employees families have been severely impacted either directly or indirectly. With the overburdened healthcare infrastructure, people were struggling for resources to take care of themselves and their loved ones.
Many organisations have stepped up and offered support to employees and families in several ways. Companies offered special sick leave for employees to recuperate and recover from the infection. Medical helplines were set up for doctor consultations and counseling services.
Medical Insurance cover was enhanced. Advance salary is being provided to employees who need it. Isolation facilities, testing, and vaccination camps were set up. Some organisations also created help desks and even mobile apps for employees to request oxygen, concentrators, medicines, food, and hospital beds.
Although the second wave is waning now, there are already warnings for future waves. Based on the trends in other countries, experts believe that the gap between the second and the third wave may be as short as 3 to 4 months. Therefore it is imperative to prepare immediately to deal with the upcoming situation and identify areas to enhance the safety of employees and keep them engaged.
Focus on Personal Touch
Many people are experiencing extreme emotions of fatigue, turmoil, stress, and anxiety. Amid crisis the mantra for employee engagement is compassion. There has to be a strong reach-out program with an emphasis on personal touch. Team leaders and managers need to be sensitised to listen closely to understand individuals’ situations, needs, and challenges. As an example, are new joiners who are getting infected facing pay cuts due to lack of accumulated leaves. How are they coping up with the rising medical expenses?
Build Resilience to Help People Recover from Mental Agony
Many employees and their family members have suffered. There have been cases where entire families were infected. People scrambled to arrange medical supplies and hospital beds. They have lived through the anxious moments during the recovery of their loved ones.
In unfortunate cases, people have lost their family members, relatives, neighbours, or colleagues. This has taken a toll on employees’ mental state and many are engulfed in depression and despair. Retrieving from the gloom and recreating a sense of hope is critical in reengaging them. Mental health support, empathetic conversations by managers and team members, engaging them in work and other activities can help pull them out of such a state. Team building sessions or training programs can get their attention back to life ahead.
Review Workforce Planning and Contingency Plan
It is clear that during a pandemic availability of the entire team and their productivity is impacted. At the same time, critical business activities need to be carried out to sustain the business. Therefore, it is important that while preparing for the third wave both business continuity and workforce wellbeing are kept in mind.
One should prepare a priority order for the work to be carried out and estimate the size of the minimum workforce required to manage it at all times. Also, having a resource backup strategy will help reduce dependence and overburdening of individuals. This can reduce work-related stress on individuals while recuperating themselves or providing care to their family.
Emphasize on Safely and Plan for the Next Wave
Many lowered their guard against the virus as the first wave subsided. Adherence to recommended precautions was slackened. Although the second wave has been harsh and has heightened awareness of the dangers associated with any negligence, it is important that we strictly follow the recommended guidelines.
Organisations should continue to share health advice and reliable medical information through employee communication channels and ensure employee’s safety at the workplace. Periodic medical briefings and sessions on physical and mental wellbeing can be arranged that are conducted by experts.
These are difficult times. Authentic and empathetic engagement initiatives will reinforce the strong bonding across the organisation and rekindle the desire to win.