COVID-19 workplace initiatives that employees loved

Ask anyone what they remember about 2020 and it will be COVID-19. This historic year will definitely go down in history. The pandemic had varied outcomes for different industries but for employees fortunate enough to emerge unscathed, they did so because of the efforts that their companies made during critical times. We take a look at some of these initiatives and what makes these best practices effective.

Keeping workplaces safe and complying with government mandates

In a survey conducted by Re Source Partners, majority of employees indicated that they were very satisfied with the way their companies handled the transition to work from home arrangements. This ranged from providing hardware or software, or subsidising procurement of equipment to allow staff to stay connected. Companies that had employees working on ground at the peak of the pandemic faced added challenges. Amidst the frenzy of organising their workforce working from home or remotely, they also had to ensure that their staff working on ground or at the frontlines were safe and were well-equipped. Employees appreciated companies that focused on their physical health and safety and took precautions to safeguard it by giving out masks and sanitisers and following government mandates diligently.

Acting swiftly, providing staff with the tools and equipment they needed,  and implementing safety protocols position companies in higher regard as it shows that while they are ready and willing to adapt and face challenges, the safety and well-being of their staff still come first.

Prioritising mental well-being

Mental well-being in the workplace is often overlooked partly because it’s not as apparent as physical health and because of the general perception on mental health. But the pandemic put mental well-being on the spotlight, paving the way for greater acceptance. 

In a report published by Singapore Best Workplaces, the 2020 awardees all demonstrated support for their staff well-being. Employees appreciated managers who actively listened to their feedback and companies that provided counselling, help lines, and therapy sessions for them. This mirrors the results Re Source Partners gathered the survey which indicated that a number of companies gave out wellness hampers and organised online mental and wellness lunchtime talks for their staff.

What makes this effective is that employees felt genuinely cared for, deepening their sense of loyalty and commitment to their companies. It also builds the trust between organisations and their employees.

Providing job and financial security

Job security was the top concern during the crisis. While some companies had to do the inevitable and reduce headcounts, some companies made a commitment to leave no man behind. For example, DHL Express retained all their staff, promised no pay reduction, and gave out one-time bonuses to all employees as financial support. In the Re Source Partners survey, around 30 per cent of respondents indicated that they gave out one-time gratuity payments to their staff to help them through tough times.

Gestures such as these captured the hearts and minds of employees as it showed that their company understands and is attuned to their needs (especially during a crisis). It also assured them of their value to the company, further reinforcing and building on the employer-employee bond.

Encouraging active communication and engagement

Employees loved companies that had clear lines of communication as they transitioned to WFH, and companies that constantly engaged with them despite remote set-ups. All of the companies surveyed by Re Source Partners said they organised virtual townhalls, and more than half held happy hours, internal games and competitions, and annual parties online. 

Activities like these helped put the ‘human connection’ in remote work arrangements, and even helped staff feel less lonely (if they are living alone) or less overwhelmed (if they are sharing workspaces with the rest of the household).

While 2020 may have been the most challenging year in modern history, it also has major learning points. It pushed companies to channel their efforts to protecting and nurturing their most valuable assets—their staff.

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