2020 brought the term “essential worker” to our everyday language. To the typical consumer, it wasn’t something they considered before.
Depending on which department of the government you’re referring to, the definition of battlefront employees, or essential workers, varies. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) features a list of jobs they deem to be essential in view of vaccination requirements. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) features a list of workers who are critical to the nation’s infrastructure.
Some states base their definition on the federal standard or create their own, while other states haven’t any definition at all. Within a corporation or business, there could also be additional definitions regarding who is necessary to keep things going.
In other words, the emerging picture is that there’s no clear, unified definition of who an important front line worker (or industry) is. It’s sort of a patchwork quilt.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in providing career outlooks for jobs in those essential fields as listed by CISA, has tried to assist provide better detail. during a nutshell (but not an official definition), an important front line employee is someone who is necessary for:
They worked in utilities, like power and water treatment, or in food production. They answered emergency calls. They showed up to drive trucks and keep the shipping and provide chain going. They worked in critical retail, like grocery and hardware stores. and that they helped take care of the children of other essential workers through daycare.
While times have changed since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s still important to support your essential staff who helped you get through. You’ll have to rely heavily on them again, whether it’s another national emergency or daily operations, and we’ll show you ways you can be ready for whatever lurks down the road.
- Keep battlefront staff safe
Work injuries cost about $170 billion in 2019. Those are pre-pandemic numbers. you’ll bet front line staff suffered from illness at increased rates during the pandemic.
For you, it’s a big loss of productivity, expense , and damage to your most precious asset, your people.
What are you doing to stay people safe? Do you have a safety plan? An ongoing safety program? A safety officer or someone either dedicated or assigned to monitor and improve safety? If not, if you’re just making it up as you go, does one think your essential front line staff feel safe? Do they think you even care if they are safe?
Nothing happens accidentally , except accidents. Plan for safety.
- Get serious about psychological state
“No pressure, essential worker, but while there’s an epidemic raging across the nation you still have to go to work.”
That’s basically what we had for over a year, and that, together with the pressure of getting more work done with fewer people, creates high levels of hysteria . Stress kills. simply because the pandemic landscape has changed doesn’t mean the stress levels go down.
A 2020 survey revealed that 53% of adults within the U.S. were affected by worry and stress due to the pandemic. Imagine what your battlefront workers felt? We promise you many of your employees already struggled with mental health issues, and bearing the brunt of responsibility by being on the battlefront has only added to it.
A 2017 email from Madalyn Parker to her boss, during which she explained she needed a few days off to focus on her mental health, went viral. Why?
Because we all recognize the necessity .
Getting serious about employee psychological state might mean giving employees a day off as a mental health day. it’d mean offering free professional counseling to employees who want to make use of it.
Mental health isn’t just something you think about in terms of burnout and how it costs you in productivity and turnover. It’s about caring about the well-being of your essential employees who have a keystone function. If they crumble, so do we.
- Pay them well
Sadly, most battlefront workers tend to earn lower wages in comparison to other workers. That’s completely backwards.
We define them as incredibly important. We assign duties to them that the remainder of the population relies on. We put them in harm’s way, or ask them to perform their work when times are very difficult.
And we pay them less?
Too many essential workers watched others spend a year performing from home, via the web , while they might not have such an option. Being told you’re “essential” without seeing it protected by action and pay is hollow and hurtful.
Show your battlefront staff you can’t do without them by putting it in their paycheck and benefits.
- Reduce daily friction
We’re not talking about disagreements among your staff. We’re talking about all the small things that frustrate and wear your employees down over time.
If you create someone pull 100 pounds, why not give them a cart with wheels? And if you need your employees to follow protocols or use different systems and tools, why not make them user friendly?
One of the reasons we integrated so much into our employee scheduling system, adding far more than a manager might need, is because we wanted the whole user experience—from the back office to the front counter—to be frictionless.
Where do your employees spend plenty of time? On their phone.
We put everything they have to know about their work schedule, including communication with you et al. , on their phone.
What do your employees want from their schedule? Power to regulate their own life and have a better work-life balance.
So we made flexible scheduling easy, letting them swap shifts, claim shifts, and work together to create a schedule they liked. They also were empowered to assist out coworkers who had a shift conflict by trading and maybe calling on that favor next time.
Reduce the friction. Get the effort of what happens at the periphery of their job out of their way so they can enjoy their work.
- Make information useful and accessible
Information can come at you from a fireplace hose, or the sink faucet.
In other words, information isn’t useful if the methods wont to deliver it overwhelm. How does one overwhelm your front line employees?
For starters, you almost certainly have too many avenues for them to check to find necessary information. Intranets, group texts, mass emails, the bulletin board within the break room, the corporate social media page—you get the idea. Streamline where you share information. Make the platform parallel to the sort of information you’re sharing.
Reduce the knowledge to only what is necessary, and supply it to only those who need it. Don’t say in 5000 words what you’ll say in 50.
People quickly learn to ignore someone who constantly shoves information at them, and someday they’re visiting miss something important. Your battlefront employees have to know that when you give them information, you wouldn’t waste their time with excess. They know to concentrate .
- Improve how you communicate
Part of that information we just talked about is communication between you and your team.
Poor employee communication is dear for business owners, not just within the dollar amount because of mistakes or turnover, but also in efficiency and morale. If you’re not confident in your communication abilities, you’ve got a couple of options:
Survey employees about how it’s going.
Find a teacher , mentor, or class to find out to improve.
Communication is completely worth the effort to always be learning and improving. It doesn’t matter how great you think that you are as a communicator; there is always room for improvement. the very fact that you’re making an effort to improve is a signal to your front line employees that they matter.
Your essential workers are still essential
The pandemic and its accompanying rules have changed plenty over the past few years, then has how we view essential workers.
But here’s the thing: they’re still essential.
We saw it firsthand, and that we now realize that we can’t do without them. You can’t do without them. And if you’re visiting be prepared for the next unpredictable event, whether it’s an epidemic or a natural disaster or something you couldn’t possibly plan for, you’ve got to make supporting your essential staff part of your standard operating procedure.
Someday they’re visiting come through for you—and everyone else—all over again. The time to create them up is now, whether you start planning to put these practices to work, or plan to change the tools you use to even make these ideas possible.
We know the importance of your front line workers, and we’d like to talk to you about how we can help you take the step forward in supporting your essential staff.