In the wake of Governor Evers’ extension of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order until May 26th, we are all eager to return to our normal ways, but what will our normal be after the quarantines lapse? What can we learn from this experience? What do we want to carry forward as part of our “new normal,” both personally and in the workplace?
Many people have discovered that they enjoy the flexible work schedule and wellness habits that they can incorporate while working at home. People have enjoyed sleeping in (minus the COVID-19 related dreams), eating healthier, taking walks in the afternoon, spending more quality time with the kids, working during their most productive time of their day, and implementing other work/life balance habits that were difficult to attain in the past. Some organizations are facing very dark days, reducing staff and pay, and anticipating future challenges. In the face of it all, however, organization leaders have expressed pride in the innovation, collaboration, resiliency, and flexibility of their teams over the past few weeks.
What can we learn from this? What can we adopt and incorporate to improve work performance, relationships and overall job satisfaction? Ask yourself and your team members what went well during this time and how you can continue to support new-found innovation, creativity, engagement, collaboration, and resiliency. Use this challenging experience as an opportunity to capture the best parts of your organization’s new normal and strategize now to prevent your organization from falling back into old, bad habits.
In addition, take some time to review your emergency and business continuity plans, handbook policies and procedures, and benefit plans to ensure that your organization is better prepared to manage future catastrophic events. You may want to consider some of the following:
- Implement an employee assistance plan, including free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems including work-life stressors, family issues, financial concerns, relationship problems, addiction concerns, etc.
- Implement a financial literacy and advisory program for your team to improve financial literacy, planning and security.
- Establish an internal Emergency Action Plan and communicate it to staff on a regular basis. Consider testing the plan with impromptu drills.
- Integrate flexible work schedules and virtual work opportunities that can minimize commute times, reduce transmission of infection, encourage healthy habits, and enable team members to spend more time with family. Expand leave policies to include care for close friends and non-traditional family members.
- Expand bereavement leave policies to include loved ones beyond immediate family members. Consider providing more than a few days to grieve or plan a funeral.
- Modify the way you coach and manage employees’ performance to move away from micromanaging to a results-based methodology.
- Move to a (more) paperless work environment to support virtual team members and improve organizational preparedness during unexpected disruptions or workplace closings.
- Review and enhance IT security to protect the information of your team members, organization, and clients/customers.
The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace and will continue to provide our clients with updates as they are available. Check out our COVID-19 resource page for all of our pandemic-related legal updates and HR best practices. The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-844-333-5253.