Well-trained leaders prioritize the wellness of their frontline employees by focusing on:

  • Education
  • Thorough and timely communication
  • Mental health support
  • Procedural flexibility
  • The streamlining of employee wellness resources

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly abates, it leaves in its wake lessons on leadership and resource management that we will probably never forget. One fact it has made clear is that frontline employees need and deserve well-trained leaders.

Whether in the context of the global pandemic or other challenges more limited in scope, I have stressed this idea many times in my books and blog posts.

How can leaders support their frontline staff amid a crisis? What measures can they take to ensure an effective emergency response while providing responders with the required material, psychological, and information-based support?

Here are some ideas.

Provide Education 

Whether they are dealing with a deadly virus or another crisis factor, frontline employees have to understand what they are facing. It falls to the leader to make sure that frontline responders get an adequate education in this regard. In the context of COVID-19, such education should consist of:

  • Safe triage practices
  • Proper PPE use where appropriate and access to such equipment
  • Testing techniques
  • Education detailing proper contact precaution

Access to video training and support improves the effectiveness of the education.

Facilitate Communication

At all times during a crisis, leaders must facilitate direct, effective, quick, and honest communication with frontline staff. Frontline responders need to know and understand the latest safety procedures as well as all available scientifically verified information on the nature of the threat.

Leaders should not keep any negative information such as current or potential shortages from their frontline employees. Often, these employees can come up with surprising solutions to a wide range of problems. Given that they accumulate hands-on experience in real time, their feedback in this regard is valuable.

It makes sense to set up a system/process through which frontline workers can reach out and get quick answers to whatever questions they may have.

Communication should extend to psychological/mental health support for employees.

Provide Mental Health Support and Counseling

To avoid employee burnout, organizations facing crises should make psychological support available to their frontline employees as soon as possible.

Leaders can promote mental health support by providing easier access to counseling and therapy for their staff. They can accomplish that through simple logistical steps, such as providing the names and phone numbers of staff counselors to their frontline workers.

Broadcasting encouraging and inspirational messages to the staff may also help when done with tact and moderation.

Facilitate Focus on the Crisis at Hand

Sometimes it makes sense to tweak organizational procedures to reduce unnecessary stress on frontline employees.

Leaders can advocate for measures such as:

  • Providing flexible scheduling options for their employees who bear most of the pressure.
  • Lifting non-essential meeting/email/call requirements
  • Monitoring the activity of individuals to make sure no one shoulders unreasonable loads

Appoint a Leader in Charge of Employee Wellness

Make frontline employee wellness an organizational priority.

The presence of a person in charge of employee wellness resources is a must in every organization dealing with a crisis. Such a leader can optimize the flow of resources to frontline employees while giving them an accessible option to request assistance if needed.

Well-trained leaders recognize that in times of crisis, frontline employees represent the leading edge of their organization. Thus, they make it an organizational priority to have these people feel supported.

Check out my books and blog posts for more about intelligent leadership and leadership development.


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