Working Families in the Times of COVID-19 – Practical Tips for Your Workforce

| By Wendy Lee

Being at home amid the COVID-19 outbreak is a huge shift for a lot of us. Adding school/child care closures and “shelter-in-place” orders to the mix can amplify stress and anxiety. Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of questions and requests for support and expert guidance across the Cleo platform and our dedicated Cleo guides. We’ve learned quite a bit in a short amount of time as we listened to the needs and concerns of our members and partners.

During the webinar on Monday, March 16, which covered key strategies HR and benefits leaders can implement to support working families in the time of COVID-19, our experts answered a number of questions to help calm anxieties of working families and workforce leaders. If you missed the webinar and want to watch the full recording, check it out here.

Find below some of the practical tips and best practices for workforce leaders, parents with young children, and new & expecting parents. 

Tips for Managers and Leaders

  1. Prioritize work. Send a questionnaire or poll to your team at the beginning of each week to understand what deliverables can be pushed out to a later time. Discuss with your team and agree to what to work on for the time being.
  2. Buddy up. Communicate the top three priorities with the team, record them, and work with team members to share the responsibility. 
  3. Embrace the change. If you have a child, or a team member with a child, set the example by bringing your child along to the next virtual meeting. In other words, model the behavior you want your team to repeat.
  4. Train managers on your benefits. Host a webinar to educate managers on what health and wellness benefits are available to employees to use. Teach them how to sign up and what the tools are (e.g. what is an EAP? What’s the eligibility?).
  5. Recognize the universal need to take a break from work. Create norms for the team to step away and assist family who may fall ill or need a mental health day. 

Tips for Parents with Young Children

  1. Be realistic with yourself. Be transparent with colleagues and managers. Take non-essential tasks off your to-do list and clearly communicate what is/isn’t possible. Be forgiving of your imperfect parenting.
  2. Steps with little ones: Talk to them about the need for social distancing. You’ll want to avoid public transit, crowds, and play dates. With higher-risk kids, be extra careful. 
  3. Know the signs of COVID-19: 90% of those affected have high fever, 70% present with dry cough, with occasional runny noses and diarrhea.
  4. Screening is now available if you or your children are high-risk and exhibit one of the top two symptoms. If that is the case, call your pediatric provider or use telemedicine.

Tips for Expecting and New Parents

  1. What we know: Pregnant women, newly postpartum, and newborns so far are not exhibiting worse symptoms. Having said that, infection in pregnancy does seem to be associated with miscarriage and preterm labor. 
  2. Steps you can take: Avoid the emergency room unless absolutely necessary. Consider switching providers if you are not getting the help you need. And sign up for virtual classes to meet your informational needs.
  3. Preparing yourself for birth: Visitor restrictions are in effect and changing. Ask your provider often what you need to be aware of. Make plans for siblings to meet babies and see parents virtually. Most of all, prepare for a very different postpartum time than the one you were initially planning. 

For more tips on navigating family and work life amid COVID-19, visit hicleo.com/covid-19-support, and join our upcoming webinar: Tools To Help Managers Support Working Families At Home.