An OnShift survey of more than 2100 healthcare professionals found that 65% of respondents recognize fear and safety concerns as a top personal challenge facing employees. Employees are struggling and are looking for continual reassurance from their leaders that the highest standards are in place to protect their physical, mental and emotional health during this time.
Here are four ways I/DD providers can support staff during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.
Communicate Like Never Before
The first step to supporting your staff is gaining a better understanding of what is happening in your organization. Talk to your employees to get a better grasp of their primary concerns and what you can do to help. Encourage managers to use open lines of communication with their direct reports to continually reassure them that these concerns are being heard.
Many providers have implemented frequent staff satisfaction surveys to get a pulse on how staff are feeling from day to day. If employee sentiment changes quickly, it may indicate an underlying problem that needs to be addressed by management. Pulse surveys, like the ones in OnShift Engage, provide a daily sentiment analysis to help. The information you gather can be extremely valuable and best of all, actionable.
Revisit Your Benefits
Continue to remind employees of and encourage them to take full advantage of your available benefits and perks. A whopping 80% of organizations report their employees are experiencing burnout. Much of this burnout can be attributed to the emotional trauma and additional stresses brought on by the pandemic.
Anything you can do to check an item or two off of your employees’ to-do lists goes a long way. Provide them with clean shirts and uniforms so they won’t have to do their laundry as frequently. You can also consider giving your employees meals that they could bring home to their families. Many providers have even organized pantries in their facilities for employees to grab essentials they may need after a long shift.
Mental wellness support is arguably the most important benefit you can offer your employees right now. Consider stipends for counseling and bringing in mental health professionals to do regular mindfulness sessions. There are also plenty of mental wellness apps that offer group discounts.
Of course, be sure to include employees in this conversation, asking them which perks and benefits would be most meaningful to them during this time.
With increased childcare and family needs, your staff may require more flexibility than ever before. Even before the pandemic, 75% of staff reported that they expected their employers to provide more flexible scheduling.
You can start by making sure that you understand your staffing needs. Take a look at the data you have available to help you predict your staffing needs. As demand increases or decreases, continue to think about how this will impact your staffing. At times, you will have to think hour by hour instead of day by day.
Many organizations have implemented new shift times (i.e. shorter shifts at peak times or 12-hour shifts) and continuously work directly with staff to determine their availability. Offering best-fit schedules not only helps providers fills gaps in the schedule, but it shows employees you care about their personal lives and are committed to helping them achieve a work-life balance.
Reward & Recognize Your Staff Members
Rewarding your employees for their hard work and contributions is always a great idea. Unfortunately, only 51% of industry professionals said that their organization currently offers or plans to offer a rewards and recognition program to their employees.
Systematically tie rewards to key behaviors such as clocking in/out on time, not calling off, picking up extra shifts and other actions that support high quality client or patient care. You can also recognize staff with a handwritten note of gratitude or by giving them a public shoutout during your next team meeting.