It shouldn’t take a healthcare crisis to find ways for health care leaders to show front line healthcare team members how important they are and how much you care, but it is an especially important time to be extra considerate and thoughtful. Be prepared to go above and beyond for your employees so they go above and beyond for the patients in your care.
Below are 10 immediate perks you can offer to demonstrate extra appreciation and support to your team during this very stressful time as they battle COVID-19 on the front line:
- Rides and Transportation to and From Work: Provide compensation or develop a relationship with a transport company that takes the burden of commuting off the employee. With kids at home now off from school, many parents need to keep one car at home for emergencies, additionally, those who take mass transit may be worried about the very real threat of increased infection exposure - take this worry off their hands as well as the financial burden.
- Meals: Offer meals at work for staff. Since many team members are working overtime and getting to supermarkets and shopping is not a priority or even feasible - make sure your staff is well nourished and taken care of on the job. Additionally, think about sending staff home when needed with essentials for their families that are hard to obtain now at supermarkets (paper goods, canned goods, etc.) in partnership with your foodservice vendor.
- Financial Incentives: For those staff who may have spouses or other families out of work due to the CV, be sensitive to their financial situation. There are many ways you can assist that are non-monetary outlined in this article that will alleviate some financial stress people are experiencing. If you are able to offer employees interest free loans or salary advances to keep them afloat, this would be the time to consider doing it.
- Employee Break Rooms: Make sure you pay extra attention to employee break rooms during this time - have them fully stocked with snacks, bottled water, coffee, etc. Other things like thank you notes and inspirational messages from administration go a long way too. Supply magazines, updated CV information boards and communication, and make sure that they are cleaned and disinfected more frequently than usual.
- Pitch In: Now is not the time to delegate. Office and management staff in healthcare should limit exposure to patients and staff, but still assist and offer help to front line health care team members with things like paperwork, making copies, phone calls, faxing, even some basic errands they can't get to. Think of creative ways to put everyone to work to assist your front line team members who are putting themselves at the greatest risk. Reduce as much administrative burden as possible so that your health care team can focus exclusively on patient care.
- Supplies and Equipment: Make sure you are overstocked with supplies... meds, gloves, masks, etc. and all tools caregivers and clinicians need to be successful. Nothing is more frustrating and potentially dangerous to health care workers than not having enough essential supplies on hand to address their patient’s needs. It is especially critical to ensure there is an abundance of infection control supplies on hand daily to ensure the utmost safety and that infection avoidance protocol is followed.
- Employee Assistance Programs: If your organization has an employee assistance program, make sure to promote the program more so than usual. Often these programs can help employees identify resources and solve problems they need guidance with during especially stressful and taxing times. Most EAP’s can assist with identifying and helping with resources for childcare, financial management, elder care and many other issues, including counseling and therapy services during crisis periods.
- Childcare Assistance: With the many school closings, parents who need to be on site at work need more help than normal with childcare. Make sure you are tuned in to any dilemmas your staff has related to childcare. Consider increasing or offering childcare financial relief so your team has options and to minimize their need to call out from work.
- Extend Health Services and Resources to Your Employee’s Family: Many health care workers are worried about elderly loved ones and spouses, etc. Look into extending help to your team’s loved ones through your facility’s network of health care providers such as home care agencies, physicians and visiting home clinical services like at home lab testing and pharmacy delivery services as well as medical supply delivery and transportation services.
- Encourage/Accommodate Resting: With the likelihood of call outs and increased staff taking sick days during the CV crisis, you will experience overtime and employees extending their shifts to help when short staffed. Make sure you have updated and extra areas and/or rooms for staff to rest when they are off shift. Front line care is physically and mentally demanding, patient safety can be compromised if your staff is not well rested, alert and refreshed.
It is also critical to provide ongoing clinical information and updates on CV-19 to all healthcare staff, so they are as educated, trained and informed as possible in providing the highest quality, and safest care to patients.
Finally, never stop thanking your team and appreciating them for what they are doing during this uncertain time. My experience has been that health care staff are most appreciative of the personal appreciation shown to them by their leaders. Be as present and responsive as possible and remember your one and only job is to support your clinical and front-line support team to the fullest extent to make their jobs and lives as uncomplicated as possible.