When the shutdown first began in March of 2020, front line and essential workers were considered heroes. Communities cheered them on daily as they risked their lives to keep the world spinning. Grocery store clerks, farmworkers, care assistants, delivery drivers, and more were left to continue work, often under new restrictions, to keep the rest of our lives moving. But though these workers were revealed as heroes, many felt unprotected and unsupported during the pandemic.
The Global State of Frontline Employee Training study conducted in the summer of 2020 found that 39% of the 2,000 workers surveyed in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia did not feel prepared or supported to do their job during the pandemic. 30% of frontline workers surveyed did not trust their employers or are ambivalent about their employer’s ability to deliver the training they need to do their jobs effectively, with employees in the U.S. expressing the lowest level of confidence at 64%.
Clearly, there is a disconnect in how front line workers were treated, as these heroes were often left without adequate PPE or training to securely do their job.
With unemployment at an all time high during the pandemic, front line and essential workers were given no option but to put themselves at risk. Though many were understandably thankful to have a job during these times, 1 in 7 essential workers lacked health insurance, and 1 in 3 lived in a household that made less than $40,000 annually. Essential workers working outside their homes may have an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19, and by extension, an increased risk of incurring expenses related to treatment.
The first step in supporting these essential, front-line workers is by thanking them. But employers need to go beyond that and support them with adequate training and protection. The word “hero” can sound patronizing without the necessary support.
Be sure to offer employees an adequate (or beyond adequate, if possible) amount of safe, approved PPE, no matter if the job requires it or not. If employees are interacting with others in any capacity, providing masks and gloves goes a long way in ensuring their protection.
You want to communicate that employees are valued. By providing PPE beyond requirements, you can communicate that your employees are an essential and important part of your company. Regularly check in on procedures, asking trusted members of your staff for improvements or suggestions, if possible.
If working conditions allow, offer flexible work environments to keep workers safe. You must remember that each employee has a life of their own and so many are impacted by health and family conditions that could make them even more susceptible to the consequences of COVID-19.
Remember, front line and essential workers have been the heroes that have kept the world operating as close to normal as possible. Support them with PPE from Global Sourcing. We can consult you on which PPE items are necessary and which can be provided as extras to keep your valued people safe.