Why business leaders need to support their greatest asset

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone’s editors or publishers.

Running a business has been the challenge of a lifetime lately. If you have employees, it is imperative to retain as many as possible. We are supposed to be in the middle of “The Great Resignation” and experiencing a unique labor shortage.

Whatever the reason for this shortage, whether it is employees reflecting on life and wanting a change or job loss due to the upheaval caused by the pandemic, the question to be asked is who will return to work (literally or metaphorically). To maintain your company’s brand, you will need to know what your employees have been through and how they are doing as the proverbial doors open again. While some companies are planning a full in-person return, some brands might be considering a more hybrid approach to work. Either way, it has become clear that taking care of our employees is more important than ever. This is important even if you opt for a hybrid office (with a mix of onsite and offsite work) or a remote model.

Can your team perform the same or, in this case, better than before? Understand that you don’t run a mental health clinic or have all the answers, but you should work to ensure your work model supports your employees. It will be crucial to your success if you address this issue, especially given the difficulties you have endured over the past two years.

Having basic resources in place is a starting point for providing employees with the support they need to thrive. I wrote an article for Forbes HR Council about reopening businesses and what it will mean for the business owner. But here I would like to talk about how employers can properly support staff whether they are still working remotely or using a hybrid model.

I recommend checking out some resources available from the CDC on the matter here. The CDC says, “Whether you go to work or work from home, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely changed the way you work. Fear and anxiety about this new disease and other strong emotions can be overwhelming, and work stress can lead to burnout.

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If you offer group insurance, it may be a good idea to contact the administrator of the contract to find out which mental health coverages or options apply. Consider asking your insurer for help and have an ambassador educate your employees about their coverage options, especially when it comes to mental health. Giving employees the ability to better understand the options available to them enables them to make decisions based on their unique needs.

I would suggest, if possible, having specific days when you come together as a clan and do not do talk specifically about work. Just sit back and watch the interactions and connections that take place, and if only groups of employees can do that due to busy schedules or your staff still working remotely, I recommend having those days dedicated when possible. You can also do it virtually. Share your common observations together and consider catering or sending restaurant gift certificates to your staff so you can enjoy great food together (whether in person or remotely). Perhaps employ regional food ambassadors for the day to make it fun. We all learn what works in real time, so try some things out and don’t be afraid to crack a few eggs.

You should prioritize creating an environment that meets the needs of your staff so they perform at their best – maintaining this culture is important. Don’t let your people crumble. Finally, humor is a must when working — period. It should be passed, but not at anyone’s expense or maliciously. Look for healthy cohesion.

Your business is a brand and your employees are your greatest asset. If you must rely on people to provide you with services or goods and distinguish your business, their well-being is the well-being of your business. Let’s give them the tools and support they need – it’s good for your team and the bottom line.

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