The Coronavirus is causing uncertainty for both employers and employees. Employers need to help their employees through this difficult time and there are steps they can take to support workers.
Plan for absences
It is possible that some employees may become sick, and even more will be worried and wanting to self-isolate. Employers need to consider employees who cannot work because they are in quarantine or who are not able to work as they need to care for others for example due to school closures.
While it may not work for all organizations, employers should consider work from home options for employees whenever possible. Employees also need to be secure in knowing they are able to take sick leave without financial hardship. The federal government has promised to provide changes to EI to support workers through this.
Offer Virtual Health
Now is the time to invest in employee health and wellbeing. It is natural that employees are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression in this time which can affect productivity. Virtual health care can support employees while reducing the strain on the health-care system as virtual health does not require employees to visit the doctor in person.
Virtual health-care benefits are critical at this time. In a recent survey, Mercer found 70 per cent of emergency room visits could be replaced with virtual consultations without any reduction in quality of care. (source: Benefits Canada )
It is vital that employers provide frequent updates to employees as employees look to their employer as a trusted source of information.
Providing information on services available to employees, for example how to access their Employee Assistance Program or other policies that support employees during this time is helpful.
Coronavirus has created significant economic uncertainty. Those close to retirement will be worried about their investments as they see the news coming from the financial markets. Employers can help employees feel supported by providing communications around financial wellness.
The most important thing employers can do is to communicate to their employees what actions they have taken to support them and keep them updated. This will help employees feel supported by their employer during this time.