Panic is mounting across the U.S. in response to COVID-19. Here are some tips for small business owners looking to manage coronavirus fears among employees.
Many people are concerned about the long-term implications of the novel coronavirus, including your employees.
For small business owners looking to prioritize the safety and well-being of their employees, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce put together this toolkit as a helpful resource, consolidating the recommendations of the CDC.
In addition to those recommendations, following are five ways small business owners can address and calm coronavirus fears among employees.
1. Communicate frequently with your employees
During stressful situations, it’s important to have a plan in place for how you’ll communicate with your employees. You need to have a way to update your employees on any coronavirus updates that affect the business and their work schedules.
Try to err on the side of communicating more frequently than you need to, even if nothing new is happening. Frequent communication will put most employees at ease and show them that you’re aware of what’s going on.
On the other hand, radio silence could make employees feel like you’re either uninformed about the coronavirus, are ill prepared or are not taking it seriously.
2. Take steps to keep your employees safe
As a business owner, the most important thing you can do is to ensure that your employees are safe. The best way to do this is by practicing good hygiene and avoiding physical contact, like shaking hands with others.
Have cleaning procedures in place and regularly wipe down all surface areas with antiseptic. Disinfect commonly used surfaces, like doorknobs, tables, desks and handrails, and encourage your employees to wash their hands immediately upon entering the room.
All of this will lower your employees’ risk of exposure to the virus. And if one of your employees starts feeling under the weather, you should let them stay home with no questions asked.
3. Establish flexible workplace policies
Try to be as accommodating as possible when it comes to working arrangements. Schools across the country are closing and some of your employees may need to stay home with their children.
If possible, try to find a way for your employees to get their work done remotely. Many workplaces are doing this by utilizing video conferencing software.
If working remotely isn’t possible for your small business, there are still ways to accommodate your employees at work. Consider staggering shifts so that all your employees aren’t in the same place at one time.
4. Limit travel as much as possible
Your employees want to know that you’re making their health and safety a priority, so don’t require employees to attend meetings, even if it’s only with a limited number of people. At this point, it’s probably a good idea to cancel in-person meetings or work events.
Also, allow employees to cancel business travel, even if it’s usually a part of their job. Even if they travel and don’t get sick, this could lead to low workplace morale.
5. Coordinate with state and local health officials
Finally, the intensity of the coronavirus outbreak will vary depending on the state and community you live in. State and local guidance will likely be changing frequently, and these changes could have an impact on your small business.
Stay informed about any new information that comes out from the CDC, your local government and local health department. Communicate with your employees regularly and share with them what you’re learning and how you’re responding to it.