Maintaining Employee Well-Being During Times of Uncertainty

May 26, 2020 Nidhi Madhavan

A mindful approach can help organizations maintain a positive employee experience in uncertain business conditions

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, along with changing economic conditions, have profoundly affected the current work environment—and as result, employee well-being. Human resources teams must keep their workforce productive while also protecting the employee experience. Right now, HR teams are planning for either their employees to continue working from home for an undetermined amount of time, or navigating new complexities of bringing their workforces back into the office. No matter the scenario in which companies are facing, taking steps to keep employees informed and empowered can help boost morale and prevent turnover in the long-term.

Four steps to protect employee well-being in today’s work environment

Protect the physical and emotional health of employees

All organizations play a role in the duty of care to their employees. In addition to providing appropriate medical and travel insurance, HR and mobility teams should work together to ensure that the policies protect both employees on international assignments and those in local offices. Another consideration with mobility is if and when employees visit other office locations either domestically or globally, that there are clear and relevant communications on local procedures, policies or notices to prevent ill or exposed employees from interacting with the local employee base.  

Another support mechanism for employee’s physical and emotional health lies with front line managers. Encouraging managers to schedule regular check-ins with their direct reports can help facilitate two-way conversations about emotional well-being during difficult periods without putting employees in the position of having to speak up first. If this is already part of the company culture, this may be an opportunity to reinforce expectations while also building transparency and empathy in real time.

Communicate frequently

Consistent and frequent communication is the most essential tool HR teams can use to foster trust with employees. Consider establishing a hotline or central contact point for employees – and develop in-house channels and hubs to respond promptly to employee questions and concerns. Business leaders should also communicate information about layoffs, furloughs and reductions in force expeditiously to avoid misinformation from spreading. 

Many foreign national employees are feeling particularly overwhelmed and anxious over current travel and immigration restrictions. HR teams should work to make themselves and their organization’s immigration counsel available to answer questions and reassure employees about their work authorization status.

Leverage technology effectively

With most workforces operating remotely during this time, technology is helpful in a number of ways. HR teams can leverage technology to move important processes online, making it easier for employees to complete their jobs successfully, submit documents to HR and access other functions remotely.

In addition, HR can help encourage employees to stay connected to their teams and the larger organization through virtual video meetings. Improving access to online learning platforms and other development tools can also help empower employees and increase organizational capability, workforce flexibility and resilience during challenging periods.

Boost motivation and engagement

The social and emotional challenges created by uncertain situations (such as COVID-19) can make it difficult to maintain the same levels of productivity. Avoid punitive measures to force productivity and instead look for ways to keep employees meaningfully engaged. Setting a clear and short roadmap for the organization’s current objectives that is aligned with its larger mission will mobilize and galvanize employees. Managers and leadership can also boost motivation and engagement by providing recognition for those who are living the values during this time.

Want to learn even more about preserving employee well-being during uncertain times? Listen to our on-demand webinar with Envoy VP of HR Lindsay Dagiantis and Global Immigration Associates.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we would like to express our support for those who may be having a hard time during these challenging times. If you are in need of additional resources, please visit the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention for more information on managing stress and anxiety.


Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Lindsay Dagiantis, who is the VP of Human Resources at Envoy Global.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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