Talent Rewire hosted a Community Conversation with our employer community on March 18th about COVID-19. We wanted to create the space for employers to come together to share their experience and learn from each other and our co-CEO Lauren Smith, MD MPH during these trying times as we support frontline employees and vulnerable populations.
The conversation around COVID-19 is evolving quickly. Providing frontline employees with a stabilizing safety net is at the forefront of our employers’ minds. This emphasis comes even as President Trump signed a relief package for American workers that includes the provision of paid emergency leave. It is clear that many of our employers feel that the governmental response to date has fallen short of addressing the fear and uncertainty that their frontline employees face. Here are a three messages that stuck with me from our conversation:
1. The private sector is expected to play an essential role in this crisis
Edelman released an update to its trust barometer. That study found that employers are viewed as a credible source for information and, in many cases, is viewed as being better prepared for the pandemic than national governments around the world. Given this, the private sector is expected to rise to the occasion to protect employees and communities.
2. It’s important to rise to the occasion, but not alone
Dr. Smith urged employers not to feel the need to go it alone when it comes to supporting their frontline employees during this pandemic. She noted the importance of taking a local perspective to this crisis and suggested reaching out to state or county public health officials. Also, don’t overlook the help of local philanthropy, including community foundations. Philanthropy needs to hear from the private sector about what the needs are. Emergency funding is being organized at this minute.
3. Beware the call to screen
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, some states are calling on employers to voluntarily take the temperatures of employees arriving at work. While this addresses one side of the equation, there is a lot to sort out before you go down this road. For instance, what action steps and advice can you provide employees who have a fever? How will you address their fear over the loss of a paycheck? How will you help get them home? Now is the time to compile resources your employees might find helpful. One of our conversation participants highlighted Aunt Bertha as a great resource.
The conversation provided us all an opportunity to connect, which is needed more than ever. What’s clear is that none of us have the silver bullet. Our best chance is to lead with a recognition of our connectedness and humanity. Nicole Trimble closed out our conversation with the best advice from Ram Dass: “If you want to cure the world, don’t emanate fear – emanate love.” This might simply be our best organizing principle for action.
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