We already know that when employees are going through challenging life events they are 3x more observant, critical and aware of their employers’ actions. That means that leaders and organizations must proceed with extreme grace, authenticity and emotional intelligence when employees are diagnosed with CoVid. How managers respond is an organizational imperative.
- The beginning is critical– when an employee shares the news that they’ve tested positive for CoVid, the only response the manager needs to focus on is the human response. “I’m so sorry,” “we’re here for you,” “what do you need,” are all good starts. The pay, time off details, workflow disruption, functional parts of what’s next need not be discussed right now! This rings unnecessary bells in employees’ minds that the job is more important than they are- don’t ring that bell.
- Act fast– the minute the news is shared, your company needs to step into high gear. The direct manager and when possible, a member of the executive team needs to reach out as soon as possible. Any hours that go by without a response from the employer dramatically amplifies the worry, confusion, and apprehension of the employee. Don’t add more stress to an already extremely stressful situation.
- Overcommunicate, Overcommunicate, Overcommunicate- before you end that first call, share when you will be calling again, what information you will share next and what support you will be offering. Follow-up immediately with anything promised to your employee and where possible, overdeliver.
- Ask for permission– what is the protocol for sharing the information that a co-worker has tested positive in your company? Be aware of HIPPA, and be aware that a lack of transparency with things like this can cause panic. Work with your HR team and leadership to craft a specific communication plan and share that process with your employee, in detail, so they are fully aware of how their coworkers will be alerted.
- Create a buddy– assign someone in the organization to be the point person for your employee who tested positive. They can manage meal trains, well wishes, needs from the employee, etc. This is the goodwill ambassador and trusted go-between for your employees who want to help. This adds another layer of care and support and demonstrates to your entire employee population how you take care of your people when they’re in a scary place.
Notice, in this list, we didn’t talk about speaking with payroll, figuring out the backfill plan for workflow disruption, putting OOO on people’s computers, etc. The reason why is that it is all secondary to the active demonstrations of being human. Getting CoVid is terrifying, no matter what your age or pre-existing condition. How you treat your employees as they navigate through this will determine how your company fairs coming out the other side of this pandemic.