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How To Address The Challenges Of Employee Health And Safety

Kate William

9 min read

The coronavirus outbreak flipped our lives 360 degrees and changed the way we work in just a couple of months. The anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and isolation affected all of us and brought fatal consequences with it. Amid this pandemic, the employees continue to suffer from work-life balance, health, and financial concerns. And what’s more unfortunate is, these concerns will stay constant even when everything ends. While many famous companies like Facebook, Starbucks, Google, Amazon, and Netflix focus on their employee health and safety, it is equally crucial for SMBs to take steps for their employees.

It’s significant for every organization to understand that their business health depends on their employees’ health. But the surprising thing is only 51% of employees said they feel they have emotional support from their company to manage stress. The need for emotional support from the organization is vital for every employee. But how to ensure you’re providing the right support to your employees or not? Well, to help you out, here we’ve given every detail you need to know when addressing employees’ health challenges. So, without further ado, let’s get started to find more! 

How Covid Will Impact Employee Health and Safety 

When it comes to employee health and safety, the pandemic has put a big question in every employer’s face. Although WHO announced that the virus’s threat is categorically under control, many companies find it hard to cope with the post-covid circumstances. A survey conducted by Flexjobs stated that before the crisis, 5% of employed and 7% of unemployed workers said they have poor mental health. And now, 18% of the employed employees and 27% of unemployed employees said they are suffering from a poor mental health condition. 

The sudden spike in poor health conditions among the employees is driven by their work-life imbalance, fear of job losses, isolation, and poor communication. Also, the risk of global recession and the threat of unemployment, resulting in stress and burnout among the employees. 

Most companies have announced flexible work hours, employee safety programs, and policies to ensure their business workflow remains stable. Still, no one can’t tell when this terrible situation will pass, and things will return to normal. 

Here are some more ways this pandemic can affect employee health and safety: 

Financial and Emotional Insecurities

We already know that several companies have started taking cost-cutting measures like laying off employees, streamlining the supply chain, closing facilities, and pay cuts. One such example is from the world’s largest hotel company Marriott International. At the beginning stage of the pandemic, Arne Sorenson, CEO of the hotel, announced that his own salary would be suspended for the whole year, and senior executives’ salary will be reduced to 50%. 

Most employees fear losing their job or already lost their work due to the shutdown. According to the BBC, in 2021, such events would increase emotional and financial stress among the employees. They would face extreme anxiety over their future, personal, and professional expenses. 

Anxiety and depression

As the pandemic disrupted our normal way of living, many employees found it difficult to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Employees who are not accustomed to the remote work face challenges like waking up late, irregular eating habits, lack of exercise, and self-care. Lockdown and isolation have already harmed their mental health since the beginning of the pandemic, but recently stress is the most vital concern among the employees. 42% of employees reported that their stress levels are currently very high due to current events, personal finances, and job responsibility.  

With all the uncertainty and adversity during the crisis, each employee is concerned about their future. In a situation like this, it is your responsibility to rethink your employee health and safety. Already 56% of U.S employees stated that they consider health benefits or health coverage as a key factor in staying at their recent job. That’s why businesses have to provide proper resources to maintain and improve their employees’ health. 

Employees with stress and anxiety can negatively affect your business. Every company should invest their time in improving their mental health and well-being to keep their businesses afloat during pandemics. So, here are some ways you can invest in your employees in order to retain them in the middle of a crisis. 

How to Support Your Employee health and safety During a Crisis

Arrange a Crisis Team

If you want to avoid any negative impact on your business in the upcoming years, then this is the right time to act on it. And start by developing a crisis team. A single person can’t handle every aspect of a business during a crisis. That’s why it’s important to delegate your work responsibilities between your team members. 

In order to create a crisis team, first identify all the crises (financial crisis, technological crisis, health crisis), your company and employees may face during the post-pandemic. Then form a covid-19 response team and provide each member with responsibilities to resolve every type of crisis. Next, ask your team to develop a resolution plan like, how many people, tools, resources, and time they’ll need to solve the problems. Train them effectively to make sure they come up with new ideas. Conduct virtual meetings, and implement effective safety plans to make sure your employees are getting the right guidance and support from your organization. 

Finally, review the crisis management plan with your team to analyze its effectiveness. Conduct surveys to know if your employees have any concerns or questions about the management process. Take notes and implement the learnings for future planning. For instance, during the pandemic NBK, they intensified their employee training courses and formed an emergency team in coordination with all the bank’s business units. This team took all the responsibility to set precautionary measures for the company and deal with the pandemic effortlessly. 

Ensure Employees Health and Safety

Today’s employees don’t care whether your company is providing them with a good compensation package or not. Their concerns for their health and safety is far greater than the annual bonus. Your employees are looking for the best health package, wellness programs, and other health benefits. To begin with you can run an employee engagement survey or an employee satisfaction survey using SurveySparrow.. 

To create similar employee surveys, you can create a FREE account on SurveySparrow

During this uncertain time, you must think about your employees’ health risks. Your employees may face difficult challenges based on their work type and health status. From employees who need to attend their organization to remote workers, each individual needs physical and mental support from their organization. Here are some ways you can ensure employees health and safety at your workplace: 

  • As the world is slowly getting back to normal, employees are returning to their organizations. At this time, you should promote social distancing among your employees. Educate them to maintain at least six feet of distance from customers and their colleagues. Rearrange your workspace so they can walk freely and maintain a safe distance.
  • Instead of organizing in-person meetings or interviews, shift to virtual meetings. Virtual meetings are gaining massive popularity among businesses. In 2020, Zoom had over 300 million daily video meeting participants, and Google Meet had over 100 million participants daily. So, ensure your employees are avoiding physical contact as much as possible.
  • Conduct self-screening, thermal-screening to confirm your employees are not affected by the virus.
  • Flexible work time is a must to avoid any kind of contact. It’s important to provide time off and shift trading to ensure they can have a proper work-life balance during this crisis. 

Keep Your Employees Connected 

As more and more companies move to remote working, employees face communication problems with their colleagues and seniors. Work from home sounds relaxing, but the fact is, people are feeling isolated while working alone at home.

As employees feel overwhelmed and disconnected from their work, it’s time for you to focus on their emotional well-being. Ask them about their health, fears, and insecurities, craft engaging surveys for them, where they can share their needs and expectations. 

Keeping this in mind, SurveySparrow offered a free self-help portal and ready to use form catalog for every NGO, SMBs, state governments, and employees all around the globe. Using this free self-help portal, you can collect employees’ data, ask them questions, report information, request assistance, and do much more to stay connected with your entire work team. 

Provide Health Benefit Program

Even though we accepted the new reality of covid, the world is still not free from its deadly grip. That’s why it’s crucial to think about employee safety and wellness programs. You can provide them greater access to flexible work hours, healthy food in the cafeteria, health benefits like a gym membership, or free access to a health app, weekly newsletters with health-related tips, and much more. 

You can reconsider your healthcare offerings and match them according to your employees’ needs. Also, conduct online surveys to understand their expectations of your organization. Ask them-

  • What do they like the most about your recent health plan?
  • If they’re not satisfied with your current health program, what changes would they like to see?

Questions like these will give you a better understanding of the employee perspective. Besides health policies and benefit plans, you can arrange wellness programs for your employees’ health and safety. For example, you can conduct webinars related to current health issues, weight loss programs, and counseling with mental health experts.

One such example of a company that is killing its employees’ benefits program during covid is Ally Financial. According to Forbes Magazine, during the pandemic, the CEO of Ally, Jeff Brown, shifted most of their employees to remote work in just a few days. For a financial company, it was a praise-worthy step for sure! They also provided some other health and wellness benefits to their employees, including:

  • 100% coverage for diagnostic testing related to covid. 100% coverage for virtual health care services and doctor visits.
  • Immediate paid medical leave for covid affected employees.
  • Ally also extended their childcare support and provided free counseling with professional mental health experts via texts and phones.
  • They also offered paid caregiver leave, free financial planning, an employee assistance program, and much more.

Ally is an incredible example of how to provide employee support during a crisis. What other organizations can learn from Ally? Always prioritize your employees no matter what the circumstances are!

Focus on Your Employees Mental Health

It’s necessary to provide every possible support for your employees’ physical protection. But don’t avoid your employees’ mental health in this critical time. Poor mental health can affect your employees’ business workflow, communication with their colleagues, employee engagement, and overall profits. When you focus on your employees’ mental health and safety, they feel valued, cared for, and motivated to stay productive. 

Always maintain a channel where they can communicate effectively and share their issues. Conduct regular check-ins with each employee and encourage them by showing support. Famous companies like Starbucks, The Home Depot, CVS provide free access to mental health professionals. For example, Starbucks, one of the coffee giants, is expanding its employee mental health benefits. They recently initiated a benefits program called “Starbucks Mental Health Fundamentals” to encourage and reassure their employees by providing resources and information related to self-care. 

How Surveys Can Help to Secure Employee Health and Safety During Crisis

When employees feel more stressed and anxious about their work, a leader’s responsibility makes them feel safe and connected. And you can’t make your employees feel connected without understanding their needs and expectations. You can’t expect your employees to self-report their discomfort and needs. That’s why you need to ask them to share their needs regularly. 

An employee health and well-being survey can help you to understand their preference in your workplace. You can ask them different types of survey questions like-

  • Considering your organization’s overall experience, how likely are you to recommend your friends and family work with us?
  • Do you follow any health or wellness routine?
  • Do you feel stress while working remotely? 
  • Do you find it hard to have a healthy balance between your work and personal life?
  • Do you think organizing wellness programs can help you manage stress?
  • Let us know if you have any medical conditions?

You can customize your employee surveys with the questions mentioned above to make sure they’re happy to work with your company. With SurveySparrow, you’ll get multiple employee health survey templates to craft engaging surveys and gather information in real-time. 

Here’s a heads up: If you want to get fast responses from your employees while conducting surveys, offer them various rewards, even if you are planning to organize a wellness session. Encourage your employees by giving them gift cards, coupons, company incentives, free healthy meals, etc. 

But wait! Before jumping to the conclusion, you must follow some rules while conducting employee wellness surveys. After all, it’s all about asking the right questions! So, here are some tips for you to craft a successful, engaging online survey:

Six Smart Tips for Crafting the Best Employees health and safety survey

1. Short, crisp, and to the point, these three factors should be your ultimate mantra while creating a survey question. Make sure to keep your survey max 10-15 mint long to avoid boredom. However, if you are new at this survey game, then leave it to us! We have myriads of pre-made survey templates to make your survey taking experience smooth.

2. Don’t just ask one type of question. Your questions should be a good mix of open-ended, ratings, and yes or no questions. Open-ended questions may sound like too many time constraints, but these are the questions where your employees will get the chance to share their thoughts and expectations freely.

3. Make sure to encourage your employees to complete the surveys by customizing them with colorful themes, videos, fonts, etc.

4. Don’t bore or confuse your employees by asking vague questions. Clear communication is important to get the right insights.

5. A little planning before sending the surveys won’t cause much harm. So plan to add targeted, clear, and effective questions to your online survey.

6. After closing the survey, you must follow up and share the results and key takeaways with your employees. This will help you to project commitment, build trust, and credibility with your employees. According to the American Management Association, when companies frequently follow-up and share survey results, employees believe that their leader is taking action. And 26% of employees are more likely to see their manager as an effective leader. 

Key Takeaway

No matter what crisis we encounter in the future or how stressful the world becomes, humans will always be the core part of your organization. In the difficult times, they’ll be the ones to stand beside your company and help it grow even with all the odds. 

And it’s a leader’s responsibility to nurture their people, support them during the most challenging time. So, employers need to regularly check their employees’ health and ask about them and their families’ well-being. Apart from ensuring their health and safety, organizations should also focus on streamlining their work process by introducing them to new technologies like project management tools, survey tools, communication and collaboration tools, etc. 

So have you taken any measures on your employees’ health yet? If not, go ahead and clearly communicate with your employees about their discomfort. Ask them about their health, boost their motivation, and most importantly, show them that you are standing beside them.  

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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