There have been significant changes in employment during COVID. Businesses with physical stores mandatorily shut down their physical locations which led to significant layoffs. Corporate offices also had to terminate employees due to the changing financial situation of their business. In addition to changing work conditions due to financial concerns, health and safety have had further implications on employment. Some businesses which don’t enforce safety guidelines force employees to choose between their health and finances. To address these issues, we discussed ‘Job Loss and Employment during COVID’ this week on our Live with our HR expert guest Hilda from Peoplebright.
Trends in employment during COVID:
COVID affected employment in various ways. Businesses laying off workers and reducing the staff hours has created anxiety for employees on their job security. Trying to find other sources of income adds to this stress of trying to stay afloat during this tough time. Even for people who kept their jobs and work from home, there is the added stress of balancing work and family responsibilities. Overall, these changes have led to various mental health issues, which we dove into on our previous Live.
To help their employees financially and mentally, business have taken some steps.
Employers are now more forgiving and conscientious about the mental health of their employees. It has become very normal to see colleagues’ kids in the background during a work meeting and both other employees and employers are more accommodating.
There has also been more understanding in terms of work flexibility. Before the mandated shutdown, some businesses were resilient to let employees work from home with the concern of decreased productivity. However, this expectation didn’t become a reality for some companies. Even with the reopening of stores and offices, hybrid systems of working from home and office are being widely accepted compared to pre-COVID times. This allows employees to work together in the office and avoid isolation while giving them a few days to work from home and cut down on commuting hours.
However, the change is not just for employees.
Business owners also had to adjust to the new normal as they have had more responsibilities to take over than before. With reduced staff, some business owners had to compensate for the lost staff and learn different fields of their work such as inventory, customer service and production.
What financial resources are there to support employment during COVID?
There are government funding and programs available for business owners such as CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) and wage subsidy. For employees who lost their jobs or reduced their hours, CERB has been a widely sought resource. If you are currently on CERB which will expire in September, note that the EI program is adjusting to compensate for the expiration of CERB.
What advice can we give to the workforce?
Be aware of legal procedures and legislations.
As a business owner, think of what is important for the business when laying off employees. Decide on what roles are important to keep and how many employees are needed. This will provide trust to your employees and increase their chances of coming back to work after COVID.
Make sure you are aware of employee legislations. Employees might be working overtime which might be against their contracts. To avoid any legal problems such as unintentionally laying off employees against HR laws, you can consult an HR professional who knows about HR laws and policies. Not only they can help address and solve any existing issues, but they also know the best ways to terminate employees to avoid trouble.
- Ensure safety in the workplace:
Working frontline jobs has been very stressful in terms of safety. To accommodate, many offices have built protectors and distancing measures. However, some businesses might be lacking safety measures and lose staff members and clients due to health concerns. To avoid losing both clients and employees, increase safety standards at work.
Invest time in your employees:
Since most employees work from home or separately, it has become the manager’s job to find new ways to keep their team connected. Keeping the employees connected through virtual meetings and team activities might help with the mental challenges of isolation and lead to increased productivity.
For business owners, building connections and communicating clearly with employees about how the business is doing and what the needs of the business are as time goes on is highly important. Checking in to see how their team members are doing and leading with empathy is also a key skill a business leader needs. This will not only help resolve their issues and strengthen the team, but it can also increase productivity.
To further ensure productivity in the workplace, making accommodations for family responsibilities and mental health challenges are highly important. There is a growing need for businesses to invest in mental health for the wellbeing of their employees. In addition to mental health services, there also simple ways to give more mental space to employees. Instead of constantly booking meetings with employees to track their progress, checking the results of their work can be just as effective.
We hope you enjoyed reading our blog about ‘Job Loss & Employment during COVID’! To learn more about our discussion, you can check the full live chat here. You can find our live chats and more of the latest financial news on our News Blog. Stay tuned to learn more tips on a new topic each week on our Instagram Live at 5 on Instagram! Aside from our live chats, we post daily financial updates on social media!