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Want to Help Your Employees Who Are Still Sheltering in Place? 5 Tips

Posted On05/28/2020

ContributorSheri Pepper

by Anna Bies

California’s shelter-in-place restrictions are gradually lifting, but no one knows with certainty when the guidelines will be fully relaxed. This means many employees remain quarantined at home and uncertain about when things might start to look normal again.

Even with the prospect of returning to work on the horizon, the quarantine has stretched some employees’ abilities to remain engaged and productive in their roles. For others, isolation combined with a working-from-home lifestyle is taking a toll not only on their work productivity but also on their emotional and mental well-being.

Isolation Can Take a Toll

A recent article describes how scientists have drawn parallels between studies of people in extreme isolation (think submarines, the space station, and polar bunkers) and those currently experiencing enforced isolation because of COVID-19.

The article explains that during quarantine, people pass through several phases, including the initial “panic” mode (think about the run on toilet paper), followed by a honeymoon phase when staying sheltered seems new and possibly even fun. However, the article points out, as isolation continues “there appears to be an inflection point where frustration of being cooped up inside gets suddenly harder to bear.”

Remain Observant and Lend Your Support

As an employer, it’s important to remember how ongoing instability can impact employees behind the scenes. For many people, COVID-19 has created significant and often unwelcome changes, and with this knowledge, managers have an opportunity to lend support and help their teams stay on track for the remainder of the current stay-at-home period.

Here are a few tips to keep your workforce connected and help them safeguard their physical, emotional, and mental health during quarantine.

#1 Keep in contact
Whether on a daily or some other regular basis, it’s important to stay connected with your employees. There is no shortage of apps that let you check in with employees and help them remain engaged with their jobs and the company. One-on-one video chats and phone calls can be big morale boosters that break the monotony of working solo. A personal check-in lets employees know you are thinking of them and assess how they are holding up.

      • #2 Provide updates

    Even though you may not have a solid return-to-work timeline, be sure to update employees regularly on the plans you do have. And remember, it’s okay to say you don’t yet know exactly how things will look when the quarantine is lifted. Providing incremental information with the caveat that things may change is better than waiting to communicate until everything is set in stone.

          • #3 Encourage remote employees to stick to a routine 

        By now, working from home is not the new concept it was in March when massive numbers of employees were sent home for the first time. And by now, cadres of remote workers can attest to both the benefits and pitfalls of the 100% home office. For example, staying focused and not giving in to distraction have always challenged remote teams. Here’s where you can help:

              • — Establish clear workday start and stop time. An easy way to accomplish this is by having a daily morning call to put the day in motion. Telling your teams that they are expected to stop work at a consistent time of day provides structure and permission to not always be “on” while working from home.
              • — Remind and encourage your team to take breaks. Again, many apps can help remind people that it’s time to get up, walk around, and simply get a change of scenery.
              • — Monitor your employees’ workloads. Just as in an office environment, employees’ workload can vary. Encourage people to ask for assistance if they feel overloaded or to offer up if they some spare time. Being isolated doesn’t allow for the same casual interaction and conversation that allows in-person teams to more organically iron out workload responsibilities.
                      • #4 Encourage exercise and nutrition

                  Encourage well-being and support your employees’ efforts to exercise and eat well. Check out our prior blog that provides great resources for staying physically fit and emotionally healthy from the confines of your own home.

                          • #5 Acknowledge that the impact can be real and lasting

                  Most Americans have never been in quarantine before, so it’s important for employers to remember that the impact of prolonged isolation can be real and lasting. Pay attention to what your team members are saying … and not saying. Be aware that some may experience burnout, and be on the lookout for signs that team members are struggling. Make sure your team knows if your company offers an employee assistance program (EAP), and remind them to utilize company-provided health and mental wellness resources.

                  The quarantine will not last forever, but keeping your team focused and motivated promotes positive and long-lasting results.

                  Nelson remains dedicated to helping you build the teams you need today and in the future. Contact us for more information on our workforce solutions and ideas to help your teams return to work.