A common mentality for companies during the early stages of the pandemic was to weather the storm. This message was predicated upon the belief that disruption to employees’ daily work and personal lives would be temporary. However, as the months went by and reality of a long-term disruption set in, employee well-being became a priority.
Employers have leaned on their employee assistance programs, telemedicine resources and even added benefits such as online fitness and wellness classes to help their employees through what’s been a tumultuous time. And, as WorldatWork’s “Total Resilience Virtual Conference & Exhibition” has revealed, some companies are offering their employees “recharge days,” which are days in addition to PTO for employees.
Sarah Hamilton, senior director of HR at Workhuman, said the company implemented an initiative for all employees to take at least five days off before the end of August to relax and reset. To prove the organization was serious, Hamilton said many of the executive team members took the week off shortly after the memo was sent out to employees.
“It put everyone in the same boat and that made people feel less stressed about taking the time off,” Hamilton said.
It can be difficult to ascertain whether your employees are feeling overwhelmed or stressed when you don’t see them in the office every day. Hamilton said this is why Workhuman made consistent communication from leadership and managers a priority throughout the past several months.
“It’s helped us keep a pulse on the employees with how they’re feeling and what they’re really struggling with,” Hamilton said. “Our managers have been great with just asking employees how they’re doing and what their workload is like.”
Hamilton noted, however, that communication is a two-way street. It’s important to have a culture in place where employees feel they can be transparent about whether their workload or day-to-day life issues are affecting their stress levels.
“Everyone has a completely different situation at home. There’s a lot of employees who have to balance work with their kids, but there’s also a lot of employees who live alone,” she said. “Everyone in every situation has something that they’re grappling with and we’ve just tried to get out ahead of it.”
Given the various circumstances within an organization’s employee population, the best practice for employers is to be flexible, Hamilton said. Whether it’s a staggered work schedule or allowing for time during the regular workday for employees to exercise, volunteer or attend to family matters, all of it contributes to the employee value proposition.
“It’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to flexibility going forward,” Hamilton said. “It’s going to look different for every company and it’s going to take a lot of patience, flexibility, open-mindedness and then doing the best to help accommodate as best you can.”
About the Author
Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.