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Turning to wisdoms of D&I to help manage COVID – Part II

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is all about making everyone feel welcomed and engaged. Inclusive and diverse environments enable increased productivity, loyalty, creativity, and positive work cultures. Where better to turn for help than the welcoming practices of D&I in these times of COVID – where with empty streets, extreme isolation, and an unclear future, it couldn’t feel further from welcoming.

Many of our D&I tips designed to create more inclusive hiring practices can be modified to boost morale and keep your employees engaged. In the last blog we covered sharing metal health benefits, offer a range of virtual events, and issue guidelines of acceptable behaviors to combat COVID-related discrimination. Here are a few more.

1. Share simple, actionable information

When interviewing for a job, there are often a ton of details in the last few steps and not everyone will be knowledgeable on how to navigate them. From where to park to long distance travel policies, to accessing forms for background checks, each detail may impact candidates differently and if they don’t know what to ask, they can end up in an unfair and/or uncomfortable situation. The solution is to develop a communication plan with all the details in a simple, easy to navigate format so candidates can find what they need to navigate the process. The same goes for employees when navigating new territory.

With the COVID-19 response, there are many details and not all of those details impact all of the employees the same way. Work from home policies, personal or family sick-leave, furlough, access to technologies to enable work from home, procedures for social isolation while at a facility, and the list goes on.

There is so much that it becomes overwhelming for those that know what they must learn, and many don’t know where to begin or what they should be asking.

Tip: create short, actionable COVID-19 content for employees

Outline and organize all the details employees may need to know about, from office closures to sick-leave, to how to file for unemployment. Create a communication plan that drips out the information in bite-sized chunks with actions or steps employees can take if they are impacted. Each piece of content can draw employees into a central repository where they can navigate the other topics (such as a website or social media site).

Make sure every piece of content clearly and simply addresses the following: the topic, who’s impacted (and how they can tell), what it means, and what impacted employees need to do. From there, provide whatever detail is necessary. This will enable employees to quickly determine what they should read and what they can skip as they navigate the seemingly overwhelming content.

2. Designate a single point of contact

In inclusive hiring, designating a single point of contact avoids the challenges and frustration of candidates searching for answers and/or getting conflicting information in an already stressful situation (i.e. interviewing for a job). In addition to a poor candidate experience, not having a clear point of contact can also give an unfair advantage to those who have better access to information through the people they know.

With COVID-19, employees with pressing questions or concerns can experience these same challenges and frustrations when seeking answers. If employees don’t know where to go, or are getting conflicting answers, or seem to be ‘on the outside’ compared to others, it increases strain in an already stressful situation. And unequal access of information could inadvertently convey favoritism, further deteriorating productivity.

Tip: designate a single point-of-contact for all COVID-19 questions

Designate a single person for employees to go to with questions. It can be a different person for different departments, and that individual doesn’t need to have all the answers, but they must know how to get all the answers and coordinate the conversation so information is disseminated equally and fully.

Having a single point of contact will give employees a clear path to answers while reducing the risk of misinformation or unequal distribution of information. It will also give the organization a clear window into the concerns and questions of the employee base.

3. Train management team

For inclusive hiring, hiring managers are often on the front lines, interviewing candidates, representing the organization, and responding to candidate questions. However, effective interviewing and accurately representing the organization are not innate skills and knowledge, they must be taught. The same goes for COVID responses.

No matter how many messages you sent, or how many people jump up and down saying “ask me”, employees will naturally go to their management for answers.

Tip: Train managers on how to manage COVID-19 questions/discussions

Equip your managers to handle the inevitable questions, comments, and conversations. From clear guidelines on talking points and where employees should go to get answers (such as their designated point-of-contact from the tip above), to how to defuse discriminatory comments or handling the emotional fallout of layoffs.

Your managers could face a variety of situations they normally do not need to address so don’t make them do it alone. The more they are trained, the more confidently they can respond, represent and protect the organization, and avoid misinformation.

Bringing it all together – D&I wisdom to help manage during COVID-19

These are unprecedented times of global fear, uncertainty, and isolation. But, while there are days where we feel alone being stuck in our homes or standing six feet apart, behind masks and with staggered breaks, we are not alone.

Help employees with wisdoms of D&I like providing short, continuous communications with actionable content, designating a point of contact to consistently answer questions, and train management to effectively handle the new challenges COVID-19 brings.

We are all in it together, and together we will make it through.

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