When the coronavirus struck early last year, it proved to be a stress test for millions worldwide. Businesses closed down or furloughed many of their employees. Even those that were lucky enough to keep their jobs during this time have reported higher stress levels due to lowered job security, financial struggles, and the loss of work-life balance as they work remotely. Student debt loans were already at an all-time high before the pandemic, but the global health crisis only served to worsen it.
Financial stress has a tremendous impact on one’s well-being. Stress of any kind is very likely to cause depression and anxiety, the latter of which can worsen existing medical conditions. Your employees are the heart and soul of your team, so make sure that they’re taken care of. Here’s how you can offer them support.
Recommend resources for financial aid
It should go without saying that at least some of your employees are struggling to make ends meet. Email your team listing resources for financial help. These can include insurance websites, lists of mortgage lenders, details about your company’s 401(k) plan, and grants from government agencies and private companies.
This is also a way to start making yourself more approachable when it comes to discussions like this. Many team members with financial struggles likely already have plans if worse comes to worst, but offering them resources will show them that you care about them.
Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
EAPs are company programs intended to help workers with issues in their personal life that may negatively affect their work performance. EAPs typically assist employees with other issues such as substance and alcohol abuse, which have been on the rise as escapism methods during this difficult time. But EPAs also advise on personal finance and budgeting issues and can also enlighten employees about their financial situation as a whole.
Include financial literacy in employee training
As of 2020, nearly half of U.S. adults reported that they were in credit card debt. Only 23 percent report that they have enough emergency funds to cover 6 months of expenses. These statistics tell us that many Americans today are financially illiterate. ;
Teaching your employees about budgeting will make them less likely to accumulate more debt and more likely to pay off their current debt. It will teach them about interest rates and what they mean for loans and mortgages. It will also educate them on how to manage the money that they have and grow it with investments.
Pay them fairly
While you’re not required to give them a raise, you should be adjusting their pay for inflation. The simple act of keeping their pay at a steady amount while inflation is on the rise could be making matters worse for them financially.
Communication and approachability
There’s a lot of speculation as to how the pandemic will change the workplace, specifically managers. Some have reported that the post-COVID workplace will see managers be more attentive to employees’ needs and concerns. Others have reported that the pandemic has made employers tyrannical, emailing employees for more tasks at 9 pm, effectively destroying the concept of a work-life balance.
As a manager during a global crisis, you’re going to have to wear many hats. Apart from being a boss, the situation also calls for you to be a counselor to a certain extent. Work together with your HR staff to ensure that the team receives support during this time. You have to foster an environment where your team will feel comfortable approaching you with their concerns – be it professional or personal.
Check-in with your employees. Ask them to answer polls on their stress levels and how well they’re coping in the current work environment. After this, you should also conduct individual check-ins. During these sessions, you must make the first move. Make sure to ease into the topic. Make them feel comfortable in your presence first. You can also start by opening up about the current work situation. This shows vulnerability and encourages reciprocity.
Ensure that you’re also clear about the scope and limitations of what you and the company can offer. It’s important not to get their hopes up.
The COVID-19 pandemic is putting many of us under a long and arduous stress test. Consider how your employees might be struggling during this time – perhaps it’s their finances, well-being, or both. Support them in whatever capacity you can by offering them resources for support and creating a work environment where they feel comfortable approaching you about their concerns and troubles.