The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the American economy – including the personal finances of many households – upside down. Families that had a stable source of income and a balanced budget before the pandemic have struggled to stay ahead of bills in the wake of furloughs and layoffs.
Even if you have been able to stay in operation and keep your entire team on staff, your employees’ families may have lost valuable income from the lost jobs of other members of their household.
As an employer, you can help. Consider a few of the following options to support your impacted employees through this pandemic and in the months ahead.
Consider Offering Child Care Stipends
Many schools closed early or switched to virtual learning during the pandemic – and the upcoming summer will be a challenge for many parents. Some daycare centers have yet to reopen, and summer camps are on hold. This means that parents have to take on more child care responsibilities alongside their full-time work. You can help by offering child care support as a benefit for employees who need it.
“Traditionally, many business leaders viewed this problem as a personal issue for families or assumed there must be publicly funded support to help families who really need it,” Matthew Rose, former executive chairman of BNSF Railway, tells the Dallas Morning News. “However, the U.S. doesn’t have a public system designed to universally support families with child care needs.”
The average family spends 26% of its household income on child care – 52% for single parents. Even a small stipend from an employer or a pricing agreement with a local daycare center can help families financially.
Look for Ways for Employees to Work Overtime
If your employees are trying to recover financially, look for ways for them to pick up overtime work or take on extra hours. Even small bumps in paychecks can help them pay down bills or outstanding payments owed.
If your state is still affected by the pandemic – or is still practicing social distancing – consider switching your worksite from daytime operations to 24-hour shift work. In this way, only a third of workers are on-site at any given point, but the work doesn’t slow down because of it.
You can offer extra pay for employees who choose to work nights as an alternative to asking them to work overtime. Just make sure your worksite meets the state requirements for night-time work, including the proper safety equipment. Also, make sure to fully sanitize work stations in between shifts to protect employees from one first to the next.
Be Compassionate Toward Employees With Lost Loved Ones
If you know an employee who has lost a loved one to COVID-19, approach them with compassion first. Give her or him time and space to grieve and get her or his affairs in order.
While death is something no one wants to talk about, you may want to use this time to review your bereavement leave policy to see if any adjustments need to be made in the current and post-COVID-19 environments. You may want to add additional days for making funeral arrangements, or extend bereavement coverage to include grandparents or more distant relatives. This is a simple way to support your team members during this difficult time.
Employees will still feel the effects of COVID-19 through 2020 and even into 2021. You can create policies that help your team members over the next few months and even benefit them in the coming years.