Everyone has been affected in some way by COVID-19, especially when it comes to the way we do our jobs. While many are set up to work remotely, a large portion of people do not have that option. These frontline workers are bravely showing up for their shifts to provide necessary services to the rest of us despite the threat of the deadly virus. They’re working diligently to clean, sanitize and take extra safety precautions to protect themselves and those they serve, and many are putting in overtime to provide the extra manpower that’s needed right now. If their level of commitment and service doesn’t deserve a ‘thanks,’ I’m not quite sure what does.
Many employers have recognized this and are implementing perks and extras to offset hardships and applaud hard work. In addition to hero pay and bonus checks, here are some creative ways companies are showing the appreciation and support for their essential workers– and how you can incorporate similar strategies at your community.
Burger King is displaying thank-you messages from customers to workers on newly installed kiosks for placing food orders. They collected the messages via their mobile app, which they were encouraging customers to use for contact-less payment to better protect their employees at the onset of the pandemic. The initiative garnered more than 5,000 messages, which can now be seen by employees and customers.
In order to bridge the gap typically associated between c-level folks and frontline workers, Walmart’s CEO is writing personal thank-you notes to employees that are going above and beyond. That’s the kind of recognition that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. And I can almost guarantee this was shared with family and friends with great excitement.
Although a small and often simple gesture, a thank-you to a staff member goes a long way. Especially during these times, when many are working longer hours and are stressed and scared.
This is an easy one to replicate in senior care communities. In fact, many of our clients, management and executives, are already sending messages in OnShift thanking their staff for their hard work. You could also get your residents involved, having them write notes of appreciation to staff who are working diligently to ensure they are happy and safe.
There are plenty of stories out there about companies bringing in meals or cooking for their employees as a token of appreciation. To thank their staff members for taking the virus seriously and strictly adhering to the proper safety process to keep themselves and patrons safe, a Montana grocery store’s general manager cooked a steak dinner for his employees.
Similarly, bakery employees in Indiana received a free breakfast for their hard work and can-do attitude following the positive test of a maintenance worker. Some 100 staff members voluntarily self-quarantined for two weeks and after returning, have continuously worked well as a team to tackle challenges as they arise and adjust to updated protocols. Providing a special breakfast gave the corporate leadership a chance to show how much their efforts are noticed and appreciated.
Bringing in food or cooking for staff is not only a great way to express appreciation, but also allows staff to decompress and enjoy some time together off the work floor.
Again, many providers are already doing something similar. Communities are providing free take-away meals for staff to feed themselves and their families after a long day of work. I’ve even heard of providers enlisting the help of community members to grocery shop for staff to save them time and money.
Gift Cards & Food Discounts
Fresh Source, a food and beverage broker in California, worked with its vendor partners to procure $8,000 worth of gift cards for frontline grocery store staff. The gift cards could be used at businesses close to work like In-N-Out and Subway, so team members could easily grab a bite to eat before or after their shift.
Walmart is also offering employees discounts on food to alleviate some financial stress and make their grocery shopping more convenient.
You can’t go wrong with gift cards and other forms of financial assistance for food and necessities. Many employees’ sources of income have been affected by the pandemic and any little bit helps. Make sure your employees are aware of the discounts many retailers are offering for frontline workers. You can find more than 70 of them here.
Mental Wellness Stipends
A recent Census Bureau study found that one-third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression due to the pandemic. Recognizing the toll the health crisis can have on mental wellbeing, Starbucks is offering all employees and eligible family members access to 20 therapy sessions a year. Even their part-time employees that do not qualify for benefits like medical coverage have access.
Poor mental health can compromise job performance, engagement and communication with coworkers. By prioritizing mental health among employees, everybody wins.
There are a number of companies offering free or discounted mental health services for frontline workers, like Talkspace and Project Parachute; and meditation apps like Headspace have curated a collection of free sessions. Encourage your employees to take advantage of these valuable resources.
Childcare Assistance, Telehealth Benefits & Financial & Career Planning Tools
To help team members that need childcare, Target rolled out its backup family care benefit, which was previously only available through a specific benefits package, to all employees – including frontline workers.
In a similar gesture, PepsiCo is offering at least two-thirds of that person’s pay for up to 12 weeks for those who are unable to work from home but must care for a child who can’t go to school or daycare.
Postmates, an on-demand food delivery service that employs largely gig workers, is also offering a cash relief stipend to offset income lost if people have to stay home to care for children or a sick family member. But that’s not all. The company has also implemented a new portal that gives employees access to mental and physical telehealth services, as well as financial and career planning tools. And to ensure they stay safe and protected on the road, they distributed hundreds of thousands of reusable masks to drivers.
One provider we work with told us that as soon as schools and daycares started to close, they rented a few hotel rooms where employees could take turns watching each other’s children while still being paid. Others have designated unused group activity rooms as a makeshift daycare for employees on the clock.
Additionally, providers have begun offering financial wellness apps like OnShift Wallet. These apps allow employees to access their earned wages when they need them, rather than waiting for the traditional two-week pay period to roll around. Recent research found the employees have seen expenses increase since the onset of the pandemic. In fact, we’ve seen a 35% increase in OnShift Wallet funds being used for groceries.
We hope you find this list helpful and can make some of these ideas your own. However, based on what we’ve seen and heard, you are all doing a wonderful job supporting your hardworking employees right now. And for that, we thank you.