Employees’ problems during quarantine: How HR can assist in solving them

Polina Kuchkovskaya
27 May 2020

At a time of global transformations, we face challenges that require the most significant acceleration of efforts and the search for unusual approaches and tools to adapt to new realities.

Companies are actively rebuilding and adapting to work during a crisis, whereas the pace of work is getting faster daily. However, some corporations have not lost productivity and efficiency during the quarantine period but have also exceeded previous quality indicators. These changes and transformations began to be implemented much faster. At Boosta, one of these changes was the implementation of remote command management. Our company has been preparing for this for a long time, but thanks to quarantine, the actual execution happened in record time. What is more, such rates of change and processes’ modification are becoming more typical for most enterprises now.

Meanwhile, specialists have been experiencing a period of turbulence for quite a long time, with the only option of communicating online. Keeping in mind those conditions, HR specialist needs to pay attention to employees. They still remain face to face with all their problems and difficulties of a truly unique nature. The longer the quarantine lasts, the more fatigue and monotony can accelerate. At the same time, the uncertainty of the future is truly frightening.

The crucial employees’ problems that work remotely

  • fear of uncertainty – we are scared of the upcoming events; we worry about how the day-to-day events can impact both our work and life in the long run
  • lack of the usual live communication that we used to receive in the office during smoking breaks, lunches, and work meetings;
  • lack of a so-called work-home balance– we have been continually limiting the space we use to our home, where both work-related and leisure activities are now held simultaneously;
  • numerous distractions that we are not really ready to tackle, including the absence of a comfortable workplace, children who are continually requesting more attention, other domestic issues that now seem more important than ever before, and even a neighbour who is fighting with a neighbour-music fan by drilling;
  • potential burnout – people tend to start their workday earlier and finish it later. This speeds up the overall pace of the work process faster and faster;
  • lack of care and specific conditions – the inability to conduct our usual “rituals,” including the start of the day with a cup of delicious coffee with colleagues, can confuse people. It allows disables the adjustment process that allows employees to work quickly;
  • groundhog day – continually eliminates all the differences between working days. As a result, the monotony of everyday life makes you sad;
  • the difficulty of adaptation among newcomers – those who have only recently started working (or even joined during quarantine). It is difficult for them to get used to the workflow and get acquainted with the members of a new team.

How to deal with it

A relevant challenge is to transfer traditional HR practices from office-based to digital, alongside developing the ways to respond to needs or sudden requests quickly and barrierlessly.

First and foremost, it is required to instil regular communication as part of your corporation. For instance, our company has implemented this with the help of daily updates “Boosta Quarantine, or how we work remotely,” emails, and video statements from top managers. All these tools allowed employees to understand what is going on within Boosta and what to expect shortly, and therefore minimize the fear of uncertainty.

To give people enough time to relax, you can provide extra Day Offs (we even have a unique name for them – Quarantine-Off) and also make the working schedule more flexible.

My own recommendation is to create groups and chats based on specific interests to increase the amount of communication. Another step may be to initiate the creation of a training camp for those who like to play video games. In parallel, you can organize activities, such as online sessions of “Mafia” or “What? Where? When?” Not to mention the creation of random couples for coffee breaks online, which can offer a chance to learn more about your colleagues, exchange new ideas, and get charged with positive emotions.

When working from home, do not forget about a Work-Life Balance, a culture that everyone should cherish. The goal of HR specialists is to assist people in achieving it, alongside cherishing habits for organizing sufficient work.

It is essential to take care and show your colleagues that you are not ignorant of their problems. If your employees have any problems, consider whether you can help them by any means. In the time of quarantine, it is more important than ever. For example, some people do not really have the opportunity to have a comfy workplace at home. That means that they will be very grateful for the chance to pick up additional equipment from the office.

In most companies, it is evident that employees began to spend more time on their work duties during the quarantine period, especially in terms of starting earlier and finishing later. To give people enough time to relax, you can provide extra Day Offs (we even have a unique name for them – Quarantine-Off) and also make the working schedule more flexible.

Another way to show your assistance is to send parcels with vital things. You need to realize what employees will be happier about at this moment and focus on it. At the beginning of the quarantine, we organized targeted delivery and included masks and antiseptics, which at that time were very difficult to find in dispensaries. Currently, the main focus of our company is on things that can alleviate one’s moods, including fruits, goodies, cards, cute gifts, etc.

Being engaged in various activities provides an opportunity to diversify and enrich your leisure time. Using my own example, I can say that challenges on multiple topics (sports, reading, creativity, quizzes, webinars, and educational materials) generally get positive feedback. Focus on your target audience and try to keep in touch with people as much as possible. For example, if you have a lot of young parents in your team, they will really be happy about the activities that should be performed together with their children.

Quarantine lessons

It is important not to get disconnected with people even at a distance and to support them, especially emotionally. The crisis we’re going through has become a growth zone for the development and execution of innovative HR approaches. These practices will certainly remain even after the crises, eventually helping HR-processes to reach new heights.

We believe that times of great change are times of great opportunity. Feel free to look into the nearest future: What you started doing differently, what opportunities you now can see? Find your own answers to these questions, and you will definitely come out of the crisis victoriously.

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