As we emerge from the pandemic and return to a new work reality, Employee Care will only increase in importance. It will be the new standard by which company cultures are judged.Sean Kelly, co-founder and CEO of SnackNation
At the risk of stating the obvious, COVID-19 is changing everything.
It is the black swan event, exposing the inherent flaws in our system and forcing leaders everywhere to re-evaluate whether the way we manage our teams is the best way, or merely the way it’s always been.
If this sounds bleak, consider that COVID also presents an opportunity to reset. This dark moment in our history has given us a chance to shed the outdated ways of the past, and to forge a better path.
This is certainly true of the world of work. Take the most obvious example, remote work. This was a practice that had taken root in the startup world, but was far from mainstream before the lockdowns began.
A Focus On Employee Care
Fast forward two months, and we are in the midst of the greatest work-from-home experiment in history. Employers are learning the extent to which teams can be productive away from the office. Consequently, they’re beginning to rethink how much of that expensive office space they actually need.
Likewise, our collective pandemic experience has made another workplace idea exceedingly relevant, and thus has accelerated its adoption: Employee Care.
As we emerge from the pandemic and return to a new work reality, Employee Care will only increase in importance. It will be the new standard by which company cultures are judged. And because it will determine your company’s ability to recruit the best talent and keep your existing employees engaged, it will have an outsized impact on company performance and profitability.
For these reasons, adopting an Employee Care framework becomes the most pressing task for employers and their People teams as we return to the workplace.
What is ‘Employee Care’
Employee Care isn’t a buzzword. It’s an ethos that prioritizes employee health, safety, and wellbeing above all. It connects company success and employee wellbeing, and it should be a beacon that guides your decision making as you optimize your company culture for a post-COVID world.
I define Employee Care as the extent to which companies optimize for employee health, safety, wellbeing, and quality of life.
How To Make Employee Care the Foundation of your Culture
1. Immediately Prioritize Safety
The most immediate concern when employees return to offices will be the safety of their physical environment.
This will be the first big Employee Care test. Team members who have been practicing strict social distancing for months by this point will be justifiably anxious about returning to any kind of public space.
HR and People teams must have a plan to ensure the safe return of their employees. This will necessarily involve hand sanitizer stations, company supplied face masks, and social distancing protocols. It will mean packaged food and snacks instead of bulk items, and directional flows and distancing guidelines on the office floor. It will also mean that offices are at less than full capacity.
Communicating these policies–and the why behind them–will be key. But saying the right things will only get you so far. The key is to consistently back up words with actions, and connect those actions to your values.