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Taylor ColottiMay 11, 20235 min read

Taking care of the whole employee during tough economic times

This article is part of Benefits Broker Confessional, where we talk shop with the leading minds in HR and break down the latest in benefits.

It’s essential for employers to prioritize the well-being of their employees during difficult times. For one, it’s just the right thing to do. Secondly, it’s critical for a productive and engaged workforce. 

When employees feel supported and valued, they’re more likely to remain committed to the organization, even during periods of uncertainty. Additionally, employees who feel secure in their jobs and have access to resources and support are better able to cope with the stress and challenges that may arise during tough economic times.

But the big question is: how can companies make their employees feel supported and valued? 

The trick is to provide support from multiple perspectives, including financial, emotional, and professional.

Let’s explore my 5 tips in a little more depth below.

1) Don’t forget the basics

Basics include sharing job expectations, providing the right tools to complete the job, and paying accurately and on time. If these criteria aren’t being met, employees become less motivated and productive—or worse, turnover can increase. 

When employees know the expectations they are being held to, have the tools to be successful in their role, and are paid accurately and on time, it not only promotes productivity and financial stability for the company but also fosters trust and loyalty. When employees feel that their employer values their work and takes care of their emotional and financial needs, they are more likely to remain dedicated to the organization, even during difficult times. 

2) Comprehensive and inclusive benefit options

It's imperative to create a sense of inclusivity and belonging in the workplace to allow employees to bring their full selves to work, which allows them to work to their highest capabilities.

Offering a variety of benefit options and resources is essential for attracting and retaining employees in today's competitive job market. Beyond just salary or wages, benefits provide employees with additional value and support that can significantly impact their lives and well-being. 

Comprehensive benefits may include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, flexible schedules, mental health resources, parental leave, and various other perks. By doubling down on benefits like these, you can create a holistic approach to supporting employee well-being. 

When you actively support employees’ physical, financial, and mental well-being, employees pay back the favor—and then some. They become more engaged, more loyal, and job satisfaction increases. Employees who feel supported and valued by their employer are more likely to be motivated and productive, ultimately contributing to your business' success.

3) On-demand pay

On-demand pay has quickly become table stakes in today’s world. For those who don’t know, the concept is simple.

On-demand pay, or Earned Wage Access as it’s also called, allows employees to access a portion of their earned wages when they need it. Seems pretty straightforward. And it is. But the impact a good on-demand pay program can have on your employees is, well, incalculable.

For one, on-demand pay has made the so-called “payday pinch” obsolete. Employees no longer have to turn to payday loans or pay advances when they need cash fast because they can access their money before payday on their own terms. It’s also empowering. Employees don’t have to rely on others. They can be more self-sufficient. All of this reduces financial stress, so employees can focus on doing their jobs.

4) Culture STILL matters

According to an Asana study, 84% of Gen Zs report burnout, along with 74% of Millennials and 47% of Baby Boomers. 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and overwork. Employees who experience burnout often feel disengaged, demotivated, and disconnected from their work, colleagues, and company. 

By prioritizing a positive and supportive culture, companies can help prevent burnout and promote employee well-being, engagement, and productivity.

Examples include leading with empathy, being compassionate, taking accountability, and sharing the "big picture" and why what employees are doing matters. Beyond that, offering flexible work arrangements, providing mental health resources, recognizing and appreciating employee contributions, and fostering a sense of community and connection, even when in a remote work environment, can help support a positive culture and employee experience.

5) Going above and beyond

Your employees are your biggest asset, so it is imperative that you know how each person likes to receive recognition. Managers should ask about this during onboarding, as it is important to remember that every person is unique.

To enhance employee satisfaction, a company can offer various options such as recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work with Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year awards, performance-based bonuses, personalized rewards like gift cards, event tickets, and even public acknowledgment such as postings on the company website or social media.

Additionally, providing opportunities for employees to learn and grow can increase their sense of value and investment in the company. Companies can offer in-house training programs, mentorship programs, leadership development programs, and access to external training resources. 

In his article Early career mentorship in cannabis and beyond, Joseph Palacio emphasizes the value of mentorship as a tool for career advancement and personal development, particularly in emerging industries like cannabis.

Cannabis offers a fresh start for early-career professionals, but it is crucial for employers to invest in developing their employees to create the next generation of leaders. This includes instilling confidence in the industry, providing development resources to understand strengths and passions, and emphasizing the importance of developing newcomers. By prioritizing these tenets, businesses in cannabis and other industries can foster a productive and engaged workforce for years to come.

Lastly, prioritizing work-life balance is crucial. Providing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options, mental health days, or flexible schedules, can help employees maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, taking care of employees during challenging times is the critical component of building a successful and sustainable organization. Prioritizing employee well-being can help maintain productivity, increase engagement, and foster a sense of loyalty among employees.

This article was co-written by Taylor Colotti, Manager of People & Development at Wurk, and Nikolina Mrkalj, Marketing Specialist at Wurk.


Taylor Colotti

Taylor Colotti is the Manager of People & Development at Wurk, the first and leading Human Capital Management (HCM) company serving the cannabis industry. Prior to her time at Wurk, Taylor worked in Human Resources for companies such as Molson Coors Beverage Company, National Food Group, and LinTech Global. Taylor also worked in Higher Education at Central Michigan University and The University of Utah. She holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Health degrees from Central Michigan University and is a PhD candidate at The University of Utah. Taylor is an avid member of the Society for Human Resource Management and holds a SHRM-CP.