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How to write a COVID commitment as an organization

COVID commitments re-state organizational priorities during this challenging time. Organizations who use them recognize that employees, their families and all others have different needs during this pandemic and business is not operating as usual. COVID commitments adjust expectations so that workplaces are more effective and employees remain healthy and avoid burnout. They prioritize trust and safety above all else. 

Recommendations

Rather than changing policy, COVID commitments support a person-centered approach that adjusts workplace culture to better support the mental well-being of a diverse staff with varied needs. 

Welcome flexibility

  • Engage employees in creating new ways of working and communicating.
  • Be thoughtful when scheduling events and meetings. Acknowledge that current needs of families (staff and participants) may require adjustments. Respect when people are ‘on’ or ‘off’ the clock.
  • Allow time for employees to address immediate home needs. For example, are they prepared for quarantine if it happens to them? 

Focus on the positive

  • Create “stop doing” goals as part of your work. For example, when you add a new task to your list, decide which other task you can delegate or drop.
  • Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity. In order to remain healthy at the workplace, pay attention to maintaining your own resilience as you take on task-related goals.
  • Encourage self-care activities. Find ideas  for taking care of yourself under stress.
  • Make time for fun and joy when appropriate.

 Right-size the workload

  • Prioritize what’s important and give permission to let other tasks go.
  • Avoid being pulled in too many directions. Aim for fewer projects with deeper focus.
  • Recognize exhaustion and overwork as warning signs. Don’t reward them.
  • Call out and protect each other in keeping appropriate workloads.

Minimize screen time

  • Schedule only needed meetings with a clear purpose. Learn tips for leading engaging meetings
  • Limit number and length of meetings. 
  • Allow option for phone during video calls. Consider walking while meeting by phone.
  • Clarify availability in order to schedule meetings only when employees are available.
  • Plan work-related activities away from screen. Examples include work-related book clubs, walking meetings and online check-ins with work completed away from screen.
  • Schedule time each day without online meetings.
  • Ensure that home screen spaces are ergonomically healthy — address eye strain, headaches, etc. 

Utilize paid time off

  • Use appropriate leave to take care of yourself.
  • Honor lunch and other breaks — your own and that of others.

Attend to leadership style

  • Demonstrate care and compassion in leadership and supervision.
  • Inquire about employees’ well-being, workload and needs. Offer help in overcoming barriers.
  • Encourage employees to use appropriate leave time to care for themselves.
  • Recognize that burnout prevents people from contributing their strategy, perspective and creativity. Learn more about Brené Brown’s leadership behaviors.
  • Share your own self-care activities. Demonstrating self-care is more powerful than talking about it.

Reviewed in 2021

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