Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of a World with COVID-19

04-08-2021

Posted By: Envision2bWell, Inc

Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of a World with COVID-19

Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of a World with COVID-19

 

A few months ago, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that vaccinated Americans no longer had to wear masks, it felt like coming up for air. It seemed that life was finally returning to normal and things were looking up. On July 26th, however, the CDC announced that vaccinated Americans should start wearing masks again when indoors in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates. Currently, more than 63% of U.S. counties are categorized as having ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ rates of transmission. This recent change is largely due to the COVID-19 variants, especially the Delta variant, along with a stall in the national vaccination rate, which is at about 49%. 

To say it is a struggle for businesses to navigate the ever-changing and tumultuous landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is an understatement. Employers are having to make decisions in uncharted waters without any idea of what lies ahead. At the same time, employees are dealing with circumstances they’ve never encountered before, with futures that often feel unsure and frightening. How can employers steer their ships in these murky waters? How can they determine the best decisions for their companies and their employees?

The truth is, there are no clear-cut answers. One of Envision2bWell's favorite mottos is, “Everybody is different and every BODY is different.” The same can be said of companies and their employees. What works for one company will not necessarily work for another. However, while there is no playbook to follow, companies can be deliberate about how they make decisions in order to help ensure that such decisions are in the best interest of as many stakeholders as possible. 

 

Safety First

Employers have a responsibility first and foremost for the safety of their employees, and that needs to remain front and center in all decision-making. It is important to stay on top of the transmission rates in your particular county (or counties) so that you can make informed decisions about masks, social distancing, and remote work policies. Global Epidemics has created an interactive tool updated in real time that may be helpful in understanding the risks in your area. You can also check your county’s website for further information and clarification.

 

Mental Health Is Just As important

In a global study conducted earlier this year, 77% of respondents said they were stressed about returning to work and being exposed to COVID-19. With the new variants and rise in cases, this anxiety is bound to be exacerbated. On the flip side, employees have also been struggling with isolation and loneliness. The thought of things sliding backwards and a possible second shutdown may also be making employees anxious.

As employers are navigating decisions such as whether to require masks, whether to social distance, and what special accommodations can be made for employees that are feeling especially stressed, it is vital to understand what mental health issues and stressors their employees are facing. Smaller companies may be able to do this through honest one-on-one conversations and open forum discussions. Larger companies, on the other hand, will need to conduct surveys to better understand how their employees are feeling and what their concerns are.

 

Employees Need to Feel Heard and Be Supported

In that same global study, barely half of the respondents reported that they felt like their company cared about them, and only 16% felt strongly supported – a big drop from 31% in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. These low numbers indicate that employees may not be feeling heard or supported as employers make decisions about things like returning to work and other post shutdown policies. While it is difficult to navigate and balance the needs of the company, the employees and the stakeholders, if employees don’t feel heard or supported, they are less likely to be engaged or productive and may simply decide to leave the company. They are also less likely to be well – physically, mentally or emotionally.

Autonomy is a proven important factor in employee engagement, satisfaction, well-being, and retention. Whether done through conversations or surveys, employers must ask, listen, and take into consideration the desires and needs of their employees so that they feel like they have a voice and a say.

Aside from being heard, employees need to feel supported, especially during these challenging times. According to MetLife’s annual benefits survey, two in five employees don’t feel companies are offering programs and other benefits to support their well-being. At a time when burnout, stress, depression and anxiety are all on the rise, along with financial stress and personal health struggles, it is imperative that employers do what they can to support their employees.

If employers want to be effective in their support, it is a good idea to take the time to understand what kind of support their employees need. Only then can they make informed decisions about wellness programs and other support systems. Again, this data and insight can be gained from surveys and/or conversations.

 

Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated

It is undeniable that Americans feel differently about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. These feelings are often strong and emotional. If employers want to help their employees navigate the pandemic, it is advisable to gain insight into how exactly their employees feel about vaccination. Without this baseline of knowledge, it will be hard to support and lead their employees through these tumultuous times, and they may risk alienating employees and causing undue stress.

 

The KSAA® Assessment

KSAA® (pronounced KISS-UH) stands for Knowledge, Support, Access and Autonomy. These are the four foundational elements that empower and enable employee health and well-being, as well as engagement and satisfaction. Our proprietary KSAA® Assessment is a survey that can help employers gain vital insight into how their employees feel about the Knowledge, Support, Access and Autonomy they provide. If you would like to learn more about the KSAA® Assessment can support your employees, please fill out this brief form here.

 

 

 

 

 

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