Showing employees you value them might be more challenging when in the midst of a crisis, but it’s even more important to do it at these times. With the COVID-19 emergency, healthcare workers, whether on the frontlines treating patients or behind the scenes providing support, are likely drawing on empty wells of energy. Here are some suggestions to show them you appreciate their dedication, drive, and passion for what they do.
- REMEMBER THEY’RE PEOPLE, TOO – If you have only brief interactions, make them count. If you have temporary workers in place for the crisis, make them feel welcome. Make meaningful connections with your employees by asking about their family by name and situation. Check in on, and be ready to respond to, their states of mind. Help them find solutions for child care, elder care, and family meals.
- KEEP IT POSITIVE – Many in healthcare get into the work because of the intrinsic feeling of making a difference, but in times when the volume of work increases dramatically and more outcomes are negative, it can be harder for employees to see the meaning in their work. Reinforce their feelings of worth by really listening to them and refocusing on the positives in the situation. As a leader you’ll need to walk the very fine line of earnestness and optimism in all your communication.
- SOLICIT FEEDBACK – In a fast-changing environment, better solutions will come from a group than just one individual. Where you can, ask for input from your staff and implement their suggestions. If a nurse has a suggestion to improve safety or efficiency, don’t just yada-yada the request. Take the time to consider it and, if feasible, put it in place.
- BE FLEXIBLE – Be willing to bend or break non-critical rules in order to express your concern for emotional and physical needs. Be tuned in to what makes the most sense in a given situation.
- RECOGNIZE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS – Depending on your current situation, you might only have time for a heartfelt “Thank you” right now. If that’s so, make sure you are saying it. People who are continually tamping down concerns about their safety and that of their family so they can continue to provide essential services need to hear those words often. If your circumstances allow, keep up with your regular recognition programs and incorporate specific acknowledgement of the sacrifices they are making.
- COMMUNICATE WELL AND OFTEN – Whether personnel is informed or not can make a critical difference in patient care, especially as we learn more about this virus. Establish multiple channels of communication and be methodical about your approach to distributing information. Frequency of communication is key as new information is available and facilities adapt to changing directives.
- HELP THEM RECOVER – We’re being told “when this is over” is not coming any time soon. As we get past the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak, we will be able to return some normalcy to our lives. For some people, that will be when the results of the emotionally taxing crisis become evident. Be prepared to offer employees more time off, mental health support, and the larger rewards and recognition that were earned but not given in the midst.
These tips will go a long way to help healthcare workers weather the crisis, and the effects will not be forgotten for long after. Leaders who take the time and make the effort to value their employees will earn the respect, trust, and gratitude of their staffs.