At Culture Spark, we work with our clients to make sure their values and identity are well defined, and employees are clear that their leaders mean what they say. In this time of uncertainty with the COVID-19, it is more important than ever that businesses consider their values and stand by them to ensure stability and continuity for their employees and customers.
Here are some actions we recommend you take:
- Encourage your employees, customers, and anyone else who comes in contact with your business to follow the CDC guidelines of avoiding physical contact such as shaking hands.
- Avoid having close contact with other people. If possible, handle all communications via email, telephone calls, or video conferences. Where office work continues, spread people out as much as possible, and make sure they keep their work stations clean, especially frequently touched items like keyboards, keypads, light switches, door knobs, cabinet handles, etc.
- If employees are sick, or if their children are sick, allow them to stay home without fear of repercussions to their employment status.
- Be prepared, as an employer, to consider telework solutions, as school closures continue to occur.
- Check with your cleaning service to ensure they have the tools they need to keep your workplace clean, and that they are maintaining their cleaning schedule.
- This is a time of uncertainty for everyone. Allow your employees the space to voice their fears and concerns, particularly if they are concerned about being able to work. Do not promise them unlimited employment, but do reassure them that you will do everything in your power to enable them to continue to have the income to support themselves, as long as you are able to.
Ensure Your Practices Reflect Your Values
Whether or not you have formal policies in place, make sure your practices reflect your high value of your employees. Don’t promise unlimited employment. Instead, reassure them you will do everything you can as long as you are able to continue servicing clients. Frequent, fact-based communication that explains how the company is prepared to handle changing circumstances lets your employees know you care about them. Communications should provide information, direction, support and comfort to your workforce.
During Hurricane Ike, Stephanie and I both worked for the same company and our office flooded, which resulted in everyone working remotely for several weeks. I managed what we called our “on-sites”, our HR Managers that worked full time at the client site, but were employees of our firm. I made the point to check in daily with each of these direct reports, just to check on them, understand their post-hurricane circumstances, and to keep them connected to the team despite being physically dispersed. When things returned to normal, one of our on-sites resigned. She said she knew where she stood when the president of the client company reached out to check on her and her family, and our president never called her once. She was so moved that he had taken the time to bring her into the fold of their work family, that she felt that was where she truly belonged. Even though she didn’t report to the president, his action was hugely symbolic and meaningful to her.
In times of crises, our true character and values are revealed. We want to help your business ensure that you have developed a culture that is seen as a source of strength in trying times such as these. It is easy to adhere to core values in good times. It is much more difficult when times are tough, but this is when people are really watching to see if you’re serious about practicing what you preach.