The Financial, Social and Emotional Impact
of COVID-19 in the Workplace

Critical Incidents Employer Services Helps You Stay Ahead of COVID-19

In the modern era, we have never seen the likes of countries like the self-quarantined country of Italy since the days of Adolf Hitler’s Germany occupying parts of Europe during World War II. The stock market is in a state of flux and has dropped 20% as I am writing this article. The world we live is in a frightening state of flux as people have no idea what to expect next. From Mayors to Governors to our POTUS are making critical decisions–some of which may impact our nations for years to come–for better or worse.

As Employers, How Do We React To COVID-19?

As the corporate decision makers, just what should you be doing to help elevate the impact of COVID-19 to your workforce and company? Sometimes, we are able to make decisions based upon the gathering of what we believe is accurately obtained information and start making decision(s). There are other instances when decisions must be made with little or even inaccurate information. It is really plain and simple: sometimes in life we must make critical decisions based upon the prevailing information whether we like it or not. Keep in mind, as a key decision maker for your employer, you have done this before.

Okay, so we have this virus literally running around creating the worst possible chaos. What do we do about it? If you are feeling intense pressure, anxiety or panicking due to the Coronavirus…I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that is highly counter intuitive. That hasn’t helped anyone in a key position build a rock-solid foundation and it isn’t going to change now.

Be Proactive Against COVID-19 in the Workplace

Pull yourself out of “reactive mode” and engage in the process of being in “proactive mode” when it comes to COVID-19 and your workplace. As Brigadier General Hal Moore once said, “There’s always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor-and after that one more thing, and after that…[t]he more you do the more opportunities arise.

Polls continue to show that roughly 70% of the workforce does not want to return to the workplace with the far majority favoring social distancing while coping with impact of working at home. Employers must cautiously prepare for employee reentry. For those corporations that can afford it, retina scanners may replace swipe cards. Buildings will feature advanced ventilation systems and touch-less doors. Hand dryers are becoming obsolete due to the fact they whisk germs off of hands, and simply circulate them around the room. Shaking hands, a high five, or a simple pat on the back are like dinosaurs – a thing of the past. Due to the global pandemic that is COVID-19, new social norms are going to develop (for better or worse) and employers are going to have to make on the fly determinations regarding which are acceptable vs unacceptable.

COVID-19 Will Change The Norm For Better or Worse

Employees will have to spaced farther apart not just to meet CDC recommendations but to help pacify the anxiety and tension that can easily run amuck. There will be a big market for nurses and alike to examine employees who are not feeling well—armed..hopefully with on-the-spot COVID test kits.

Making all of the necessary modifications can take years even though the technologies for the above for mentioned already exist. Corporations already aching for money may have to spend hundreds of millions in modifications to satisfy the masses-assuming they are satisfied. Lastly with anxiety and tensions running high, having an onsite behavioral expert sounds like a sound idea to me.

In the meantime, obtain virus information from reliable resources like the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization). Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snap Something is only going to add to your chaos as misinformation flows through like a smashed damn. Your colleagues may be falling into the hype and offering information from these sources as “reliable.” Fact check everything the best you can and continue to fact check as you go along. Staying well informed on the COVID-19 pandemic can help elevate stress and tensions in the workplace. 

Avoid & Manage Disruptive Employees

Panic is contagious–while some employees are actively panicking and adding further chaos to the workplace, there are still hardworking employees who would like to be left alone. Under no circumstances…I repeat, under no circumstances should managers allow employees to actively disrupt the workplace. Lord knows, you didn’t create the virus. It isn’t your fault and it never will be. If you allow such behaviors to continue against your better judgement–you’re actively engaging in an immoral act which is “allow yourself to deny yourself your own point of view.” Hey, that is not how you achieved success in your career! Disruptive employees are just what they are and should be handled as such. It is a work performance related issue–nothing that you have not seen or handled before.

If you are need of assistance managing the emotional impact of COVID-19 in the workplace – reach out to Critical Incidents Employer Services for our professional guidance. We’d be happy to help guide your employees through this difficult time and into this never before treaded territory.  

About the Author

Herschel D. Horn, MA MSW LCSW 

Director of Critical Incidents Employer Services and author of Does Your Compass Point North: The 31 Day Guide to Healthier and Happier (Wyndham Hall Press).