By Morgan Carpenter
As millions of people transitioned to working from home, the needs of employees, as well as the obstacles they face, drastically shifted. Many employers now find themselves navigating being a manager with limited, if any, face-to-face interactions with their team members.
How do you effectively supervise your team during a global pandemic as well as ensure productivity does not suffer? We’ve outlined five key challenges employees may face during this unprecedented time – and how employers can address them.
- Insufficient Workspace
Back in March, coworkers may have been used to their private offices or cubicles. Now in October, the bedroom is the new cubicle and the kitchen is the new water cooler. Being at home means makeshift office spaces and increased distractions.
Employers should encourage employees to seek a designated space in which to work. A separate, private space, such as a basement, shed, guest room, walk-in closet, or attic, helps to decrease distractions and increase a semblance of work-life balance.
If possible, employers should assist employees in creating an ergonomic workspace through the purchase of accessories such as a standing desk, monitor stand, or wrist support. Not only will this help employees feel more comfortable, it is more health conscious, both in the short and long term.
- Lack of Team Cohesion and Connection
Many people are facing increased loneliness as they work from home and remain largely isolated from friends, family, and coworkers. Additionally, employees report that working from home contributes to feeling disconnected from the organization. If an employee does not feel as though they belong, this could contribute to thoughts of leaving the company.
In order to remedy this problem, employers should be mindful of creating opportunities for connection amongst the team. During a virtual meeting, employers could ask employees about their weekend or to share a funny thing that happened in the past week. Even though people are working from home, employers can continue to incorporate team building activities through video conferencing. Hold a virtual pizza party, host a trivia night, play Jackbox games, or lead a Bingo game with fun prizes!
- Lessened Managerial Support
When employees are unable to see their supervisor every day, they may feel as though they are not getting as much support. Furthermore, employees may perceive their employer as not being understanding of their current needs. It is essential that employers check in with their employees. Check-ins, which can be one-on-one or in a group setting, should be predictable and regular. Employees will be reassured they have a consistent format in which to voice their questions or concerns.
Employers should seek to understand every employee’s situation. While working from home, some employees may now find themselves being a parent, caretaker, and employee all at one time. Asking open-ended questions (“How is working from home going for you thus far?”) allows employees to share the trials and tribulations of their experience.
- Poor Communication
Communication between team members looks very different nowadays. In response to this change, employers should set expectations for how often and through what means employees should communicate. If it is an emergency, what is the fastest way to get a hold of someone? Are people still available from 9:00 to 5:00 or have their hours shifted as a result of other responsibilities? Will meetings be held on a group call or through Zoom? Take steps to eliminate uncertainty by addressing these questions. Video-conferencing apps (Zoom, Google Hangouts) and messaging apps (Slack, Microsoft Teams) offer alternative ways for team members to communicate and ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Mental Health Challenges
These are stressful, uncertain, and overwhelming times. People are experiencing new or amplified feelings of anxiety and depression. Remember that during crises, people look to their leaders for insight on how to react and handle the situation.
Assure your team that yes – times are tough, but together, we can get through this. Encourage your employees to incorporate yoga and meditation into their routine. Pass along information about Zoom exercise classes. Support employees if they may need to make adjustments in their schedule to incorporate therapy or counseling services. Be adamant about employees not forgoing basic needs, such as sleeping, showering, or eating.
Never Forget the Benefits
Surprise! There is one more way to support your employees during this time – provide them with a robust and comprehensive benefits package. Full benefits offering and expert advisors by your side can save your company time, resources, and money so you can focus on supporting your team. Talk to our Principal Ron Bland on what plans are best to offer your employees. You can reach us at Ron@AEISAdvisors.com or 650.348.6234 x12.
Disclaimer: Any compliance related information in this blog is intended to be informational and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation. Should you require further compliance assistance or legal advice, please consult a licensed attorney.