Q: I am worried about my employees with all the talk about COVID-19. What are practical ways we avoid feeling socially isolated?
A: Great question. Many of the questions that we have been fielding are about reducing costs, shutdowns, furloughs, layoffs and the implications of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). While many are working remotely, sometimes that can be isolating too. No more face-to-face greetings with co-workers, lunches in the cafeteria or dinner at a local restaurant on a Friday evening.
Rachael Peterson works with many of our clients on total rewards, compensation and workplace issues. Peterson has compiled a list of recommendations for those new to working remotely.
- Keep connected socially
Yes, the work needs to get done, but be sure to also allow employees to continue to connect on a lighter note too. Virtual coffee chats, lunches and social hour will lift spirits and provide the ability to reconnect for a few minutes to see how everyone is doing. One of our clients is beginning their weekly conference calls with funny stories about kids and family members during this period of social distancing.
- Virtual 10-minute vacation
With most all travel ceased, perhaps employees are missing out on an upcoming vacation or business trip? Encourage employees to share pictures of their favorite vacation and educating people on the location (food, culture, etc.).
- Weekend plans
Sick of your remote work space? Brainstorm some ideas of what to do on the weekends…share your favorite walking trail, board game, card game, recipe, craft, activity, movie, etc. No idea is a bad idea!
- Philanthropic ideas
Now more than ever, it feels good to help! Share thoughts on philanthropic ideas…Donate to a food pantry, shop for a neighbor or foster a dog (all based on comfort level of course).
- Healthy body and mind
A 15-minute mind and body break can do wonders! Schedule a workout in your calendar and share your favorite online meditation and workout sites with easy to access videos and podcasts. Calm, Let’s Meditate and Headspace are a few apps that many use.
- Additional Resources
Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to provide employees with support on work-life stressors, family issues and/or financial concerns. Most healthcare providers also offer mental health support. Programs vary by employer and provider, but they are valuable resources to help employees during challenging times.
- Bookmark cdc.gov and watch for alerts.
Many of us crave connections. Don’t let them disappear during this turbulent time.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.