How To Care For Your Employees Amid the Pandemic
This article has been written in collaboration with Broomees
Ever since the spread of COVID-19 from China’s Wuhan to different parts of the world, nothing has been the same: countries have witnessed nation-wide lockdowns, economies are crumbling, delayed infant vaccinations, food shortages, effects on the daily-wage workers and so on.
India entered its first lockdown on March 25, 2020, which was supposed to last for only 21 days but with an increase in the cases, it got extended till May 31, 2020. With no economic activity going on, it left people with less in hand cash so, despite rising cases, the government decided to unlock the country where in the first phase the focus was to focus only on ‘economic activities’ and allowed shopping malls, religious places, hotels and restaurants to re-open.
With everything opening up, service providers require labour. With the migrant population being the worse hit, it has, in turn, created difficulties to employ the workers. This has created a demand for the labour class in the formal and informal sectors with new people entering it as well who need to be trained before they start providing their services.
In times when social distancing has to be practised at any cost due to an increase in cases, it is somewhere the responsibility of the employees to take the required measures to ensure the safety of those who they employ during such times.
Some of the steps which the employees can take are:
Providing workers with advances if possible:
The coronavirus pandemic has affected every business and every individual financially. But for the labour class, it has been worse than ever. They lack financial stability now. If possible, the employees employing them should provide them with small advances so that they can meet their essential needs and be a part of the economic process. Not only will it help them keep their finances on track but will also motivate them to work with increased motivation for their employee. And if not this, employees can either provide food ration to the workers so that they at least have food in their tummies which help them sustain.
Ensuring proper mental health for the workers:
Due to the pandemic, instability in life, concerns about the future and decreased social interaction has affected the mental health of individuals dreadfully. The fact the labour class has undergone hardships during the pandemic has had an impact on their mental health as well. Even though they know and require jobs to keep their lives going, even after all this, it might be difficult for some to work efficiently due to the stress levels they experienced or are still experiencing. To help them work efficiently, the firms should conduct workshops for their workers ensuring they are stable mentally. They can educate them about toll-free helpline numbers that exist and can be accessed when they want someone to talk to. Some of the helpline numbers are:
(i) PSSMHS- 080 – 4611 0007
(ii) Mitram Foundation- 080-2572-2573
(iii) Arpita Suicide Prevention Helpline- 080-23655557
(iv) Covid19 Helpline India- +91 77070 70002
Training them in basic hygiene practices:
The only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to ensure social distancing and maintain proper hygiene. Times have changed since the pandemic. Apart from training the workers in the service they are supposed to provide, they should also be trained about how they should maintain a healthy social distance, how they should sanitize themselves before and after providing any service. The employees should work in accordance to the guidelines issued by both central and state governments and train their employees accordingly. Some of the guidelines given by both WHO and the Indian government are:
(i) Frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers;
(ii)Good respiratory hygiene: covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, safely disposing off of used tissue papers and face masks, etc.
(iii)Avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness (such as coughing and sneezing).
(iv)Personal protective equipment (PPE) kits consisting of masks and sanitisers should be used in all workplaces in addition to physical distancing measures.
(v)Before delivering packages, employees should sanitize their hands and also maintain the required physical distance with clients.
(vi)Any employees who feel unwell and/or exhibit Covid-19 symptoms like fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, etc should not be allowed to work nor should they be obligated to do so.
Ensuring the safety of their workers:
Employees should make sure that their workers have enough mask, sanitizers, gloves, hazmat suits, and so on. In no way, they should compromise with the safety of their workers. If anyone of them shows symptoms of COVID, s/he should not be forced to provide his/her services and should be given medical assistance as soon as possible.
The post-COVID era is not going to be the same as it was earlier. With new changes, comes great responsibility. The least we all can do is to follow the new norms which are emerging and ensuring that people around us and who work for us are both in good health. In between all of this, the employees should not overlook their own physical and emotional well-being. To conclude, the world needs kindness more than ever. Let us try to be kind, not only to others but to ourselves as well.