Guess what?! Just before the pandemic hit in March 2020, Forbes published an article entitled, "Eight Benefits of Encouraging Employees to Disconnect on Time" (read it here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2020/03/16/eight-benefits-of-encouraging-employees-to-disconnect-on-time/?sh=51eda4c148c6 ). And what happened next? The world was instantaneously plugged in... all... of... the... time. For the next 14 months, society was all or partly shut down and we were pushed from unplugging to being plugged in 24/7.
What did we knew, pre-pandemic, is that excessive "on" time decreases productivity, period, dot, end of story. The amount of research that has been done into employee productivity and work-life balance (I prefer the word "harmony", but you get the point) is compelling. Staying engaged in work too much increases burn out, decreases efficiency, decreases overall engagement and productivity, and encourages employees to seek work elsewhere.
The challenge during the pandemic is that most companies have had to require a lot of their employees just to survive. As we come out of the pandemic, here are some suggestions on how to return to a paradigm that respects and appreciates your employees time:
Did you do an employee barbecue/picnic last year? Whelp, you can make up for it this year. Many years ago, I worked for a company where the management threw a barbecue for the staff each summer. Most of the staff was part-time and did not earn paid time off (PTO), so this was a great give back. We gave a way high-value prizes, cooked and served them, and made sure they got to relax for a while at our expense.
Take your key personnel for an off-site event. This could be a trip to Mexico, or dinner at a restaurant. It doesn't really matter where it is, but that it is not about work. Create the space for everyone to reconnect and catch up. We all missed a full year of watercooler talk. Let's fill that gap.
Balance PTO needs between your people. Everyone has those staff members who have maxed out their sick leave accruals and haven't taken a real vacation in 5 years. Check in with them and see if they would like to take time off this year. And then, make sure it happens. Sometimes we have to let our people know that it's ok to take a break. The work will be here and those of us not on vacation can handle it in their absence.
If you don't have an Employee Assistance Program, invest in one. Employees are under more stress than ever before. EAPs can be a great way to support our employees at no cost to them. There are a variety of options available, but most offer counselling of some sort and other types of assistance (help finding childcare, legal assistance, emergency funding for utilities, etc.). This is a great way to show your staff that you really care about them.
Stop calling them on their time off unless it's a true emergency! Respect that, especially for hourly employees, when they are off of the clock, they are OFF of work! Give them the space to enjoy their family time, travel, read, or do whatever it is that they do. You buy their time and effort from them with wages, but you do not buy their off-the-clock time. If you've fallen into bad habits during the pandemic, this should be fixed asap.
Overall, summer is a great time to review how your team is doing and how you can best meet their needs. But, if you need help adjusting your human resources strategy and improving morale, c
ontact us to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation. We are here to help!