Organizational Best Practices in the Time of COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis brought a new reality & shifted the way we all live and work. Nonprofits are adjusting quickly to their staff working from home. This new way of working is surfacing a variety of issues and further exacerbating the systemic inequalities that affect historically marginalized folks. Challenges commonly faced by rural communities such as lack of childcare, broadband, transportation, and access to healthy food are being aggravated by the pandemic.
The member organizations of the Central Appalachian Network are working hard to remain flexible for their employees, particularly for those employees disproportionately affected by the crisis. We compiled a list of best practices that have been implemented during the COVID crisis to keep staff connected and provide extra support.
Give A Stipend for Phone & Internet
Some organizations are offering a $50 a month stipend to employees to help cover phone & internet bills while working from home. Without access to an office phone and internet, remote work is relying on employees using their phone and internet for work. A small stipend helps offset this burden.
Institute COVID Leave
Some organizations implemented COVID leave, which allows employees to take 8 hrs of leave every pay period that does not affect their sick leave or paid time off. With many parents juggling working from home with taking care of their children, this increased flexibility helps ease some of the burden.
Inform Employees about New Federal Guidelines
Organizations should be informing their employees about the new federal policies being implemented. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has provided new guidelines for sick leave and FMLA for employees directly impacted by COVID and those affected by school closings. Organizations can inform employees about new federal policies through webinars or company-wide presentations.
Virtual Staff Check-ins & Happy Hours
Many organizations are hosting standing Zoom meetings to encourage informal connection among employees. These meetings are separate from regular staff meetings and foster the personal connections that are missing during remote work. Some organizations are creating space to share about the struggles of remote work by sending weekly email check-ins and asking folks to share their at-home self care strategies. Many organizations are also offering weekly or bi-weekly virtual happy hours for staff.
Create Facebook Groups to Keep Staff Connected
One way employees are staying connected with their colleagues is by creating outlets for connection outside of work. One example of this is the Crafting through the Crisis Facebook group created as a platform to share what folks are crafting to get them through the quarantine.
Offer Access to a Mental Health Hotline
Some organizations are offering their employees access to a mental health hotline. Organizations can pay for this essential service for employees and allow them to licensed mental health providers at no cost to the employees. With the pandemic hitting families hard in many different ways and the majority of the population in social isolation, increasing access to mental health services is a critical way to care for employees during this time.
This list is a great starting point for organizations looking to care for their employees in new ways during the pandemic. As we enter into new phases of the pandemic, organizations will have to continue to shift how they work and care for employees. As members of a regional network, we need to uplift innovation and equitable practices in order to create stronger nonprofit teams, employees, and communities. Please consider using or adapting any of the above recommendations. Follow up with us if you have questions or innovations about how your organizations can transition efficiently and equitably during this time.