Let’s face the facts: the impact of COVID-19 on the labor market has been unprecedented. More than 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, a number that continues to creep closer to historic Great Depression levels. Stores have closed, non-essential businesses have shut down, and industries have struggled to keep their heads above water. Even as all 50 states begin to ease coronavirus restrictions and our country preps to reopen in the coming weeks, the worst may still be yet to come for the future of the labor market.
Today, a fairly large percentage of America’s unemployed workforce, especially those in the temporary labor space, is choosing not to pursue employment. Instead, millions of workers who have lost their jobs are reaping the benefits of the CARES Act and other federal stimulus packages. Studies have shown that the average worker in more than half of states stands to collect a higher weekly salary as a result of coronavirus stimulus relief efforts than they did at their jobs.
As unemployment benefits are helping to promote social distancing and other safety practices while lessening countrywide health concerns, they have consequently created a whole new problem for employers. With business needs beginning to escalate, companies may not have time to waste in bringing back their workforces. Yet these unintended unemployment ramifications could throw a wrench in their plans to quickly bring back these workers.
Here’s the million-dollar question: if laid-off and furloughed employees can earn more money through unemployment benefits while also staying out of harm’s way in the comfort of their own homes, how can employers entice this demographic to return to work?
Whether businesses like it or not, employees’ perception is reality. Workers cannot simply rely on their employers to tell them that their workplaces are safe – they must see it for themselves. The development of advanced safety protocols is a good place to start for any organization. Whether these protections involve screening procedures for all employees and visitors, reorganizing office seating charts to maintain a safe distance between each worker, or committing to a thorough nighttime clean of the workspace, prove that maintaining the safety and well-being of your employees is your main priority.
Granting the Gift of Healthcare
Providing health benefits to employees could be a true difference-maker for your organization. Some workers may seize the opportunity to return to work if health care coverage or other insurance plans are offered in return. This is a perfect way to demonstrate to your employees that you are serious in taking care of them and their families. While this may be one of the most costly ways to get workers to return to the workplace, it presents workers with a compelling reason to do so. If your organization does not currently offer health benefits, now is the time to begin considering the possibility.
Incentives in the Office
Incentivizing your employees’ return to the office could pay dividends for your organization. Promote a daily raffle for all employees who are in the office. Distribute gas cards to help pay for transportation costs. Offer workers a free lunch catered by a locally-owned restaurant. Give away company-branded clothes and other apparel. Thinking outside the box and showcasing your company’s creativity is a great way to boost office morale and motivate your workplace. And c’mon – who doesn’t love free stuff?!
It’s All About Culture
Ultimately, the solution to this unemployment problem lies in one word: culture. If organizations have successfully established a positive working environment, there should be no coaxing necessary to get employees to return to work. One of the many lessons that companies will learn as a result of the pandemic involves the grave importance of corporate culture and employee branding. Through the promotion of the organization’s goals and objectives, employees must feel respected, recognized, and rewarded in the workplace. Not only is a strong corporate culture important in recruiting efforts and retaining current employees, but it’s also vital in getting workers to return from COVID leave. For companies who have previously struggled in fostering a successful workplace setting, they could face challenges in bringing back furloughed workers. These organizations may be left with no other option than to hire fresh employees and train them from scratch, thereby furthering the strain on the organization’s time and financial resources. If your company is looking for its own alumni solutions program to tap into your expansive network of ex-employees, check out this latest blog to learn more about how Broadleaf can help.
It goes without saying that COVID-19 will continue to play a significant role in labor market fluctuations in the months ahead. As expanded coronavirus benefits are set to expire in late July, those who have chosen to refrain from seeking employment will face stiff competition when forced to begin searching for work again. Fortunately for employers, state governments have begun discussions on legislation meant to coax available workers away from bloated unemployment benefits. Until then, employers must step up their game to entice their employees to return to work and help put America’s economy back on track.
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