June 8, 2020

Your Employees’ and Your Own Mental Health Is as Important as Your Physical Health

By Paul Bieber

Most of us are wearing masks, keeping our social distancing and moving forward. It appears this is reducing the infections from COVID-19, though we won’t be sure on this for a month or two. But there is another form of illness overtaking us. It is mental illness. Are you feeling depressed, anxious, worried, scared or afraid to go to work?
Many folks are. We are in an industry where we have to go to our shops, jobsites and homes of our customers. We don’t know what will meet us when we walk through the door. Will there be people coughing in our faces? Will we finish the day’s work and be scared we caught the virus? Will we be called to a jobsite after looting has taken place and there are crowds milling around?
All of these thoughts are in most glaziers’ minds when they get a work assignment from the office. A lot of shop owners are telling me that they are having a hard time getting a full crew in every day. I do understand that. But what can be done to improve the situation?

As owners, you need to work with your employees, giving them the best protection you can. When you take an order from a customer, explain that your team needs to be allowed to work with an open 8-foot radius around them, that your team needs a safe way to get in and out of the home or store and that the workplace needs to be cleaned in advance of their arrival. It is not a glazier’s job to move furniture or other material at a jobsite.

Tell your glaziers it is okay, after a phone call to you, to leave a jobsite if they are not free to do their work safely. Meet with your team at least once a week and praise them for working during these tough times. Let them know you care about them and will do anything for their safety and well-being. Give them all the safety equipment they ask for, both for their physical safety and their mental awareness.

Let your team know that you care. Let team members speak up about their fears and let the team work on solutions that all can agree to. Yes, this is going to cost you more money in time away from actually working, slower work site performance and in new gear. Spend it. You have to raise your rates enough to cover the times we are in. Many, many companies are paying a bonus to all workers in these times. Introduce this as a “thank you” to your team. Explain the bonus is temporary and will be for a limited time. This is a great way to say thanks.

Think about the folks in your office. Put a sign up that ask customers to keep a 6-foot distance from each other and your team. Have bottles of hand sanitizer around your showroom and at your door. Vacuum your floors and do the bathrooms regularly. Customers will bring you a broken storm sash or a frame needing rescreening. Have your team use hand sanitizer after goods come into your store.

If you have people working from home, call them every day, or twice a day if you can. Keep them informed of what is going on at the company, keep them as part of the team. There are many reports that home workers are feeling disconnected from the office, are depressed and not caring about their job as much as when they were on site. Send lunch over once a week to the folks working from home. Allow five or ten minutes a day for the workers to get together on a phone call just to see or hear their coworkers who may also be feeling a little bit lost.

This week all 50 states have opened up and are encouraging people to go back to work, but many people can’t as their children are home because of no summer camps or day care. Allow for this when you decide to bring folks back to work.

So, keep these thoughts in mind as you continue operations. A healthy workforce includes mental and physical needs.