How to Show Appreciation for Essential Workers
Right now, while it is hopefully reaching a peak, the United States is still in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With this has come an onslaught of tough questions.
While millions are out of work right now, there are also questions about those essential workers. Essential workers include people such as truck drivers on the roadways keeping supply chains moving, health care workers, and those people who serve in areas of critical infrastructure.
Businesses and employers are counting on these essential workers, many of whom are scared themselves of becoming sick with coronavirus, but they continue working anyway.
The following are things that business owners and employers, as well as society as a whole, might think about as far as essential workers.
Protecting Essential Workers
Businesses can show their appreciation for essential workers in one big and potentially life-saving way—protecting them.
While much of the country is practicing social distancing, essential workers don’t necessarily have that option.
For the United States to function, there is the need for millions of essential workers to stay on the job. The industries defined by the Department of Homeland Security count anywhere from 49 to 62 million workers as essential.
It’s not just the workers in the hospitals or the people responsible for delivering goods. Essential workers are also retail workers at grocery stores and pharmacies, and they are risking their lives to keep working.
One way to protect these workers is to provide them with masks and gloves and make social distancing a priority as much as is possible in the workplace.
What About Hazard Pay?
Some are recommending that businesses and the federal government explore the idea of hazard pay. This would mean that when employees are required to work onsite during the pandemic, they receive incentives and bonuses for doing so.
Around 26% of surveyed employers right now say they’re planning to offer hazard pay to their essential workers, according to World at Work.
Of that percentage, 9% say they’ll offer a flat dollar cash amount, and 8% say they’ll provide cash incentives linked to shifts worked and hours. Another 9% say they will offer cash incentives based on other formulas like a percentage of the employee’s salary.
In general, whether it relates to Covid-19 or not, hazard pay is additional pay that is given to a worker who is doing something that’s dangerous or involves a physical hardship.
The concept of hazard pay is not, however, outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Another option for essential workers who are not just helping businesses but the world go round right now would be to offer them a salary increase, although some organizations are nervous about committing to that with so much uncertainty.
How Can We All Show Our Appreciation?
Even outside the business aspect of it, many people right now are interested in ways they can show appreciation to essential workers on their own.
There are a lot of ways.
For example, New York City is being very hard hit by coronavirus, and there are programs like PPE for NYC. PPE for NYC is helping provide equipment to health care workers.
There’s a program called Direct Relief you can donate to, and it also provides protective equipment for health care professionals not just in New York but around the world.
Many restaurants are offering food to first responders and health care providers, and individuals are donating money through not only organizations but also directly.
In New York, public transportation workers are being disproportionately affected by coronavirus, and along with donating money, meals or other things to funds that are geared toward these essential workers, it can also show appreciation to them if you simply wear a face mask when you’re on the subway or bus.
If you can stay off public transportation during this time and you aren’t taking any rides you don’t need to be, again, you are helping these workers in many ways.
If you see a public transportation worker going out of their way, perhaps you tweet your local government to let them know.
In the coming weeks and months, employers are going to have to balance staying afloat in a difficult time with how they really show workers they appreciate them.
Mark Cuban recently spoke out about how the coronavirus has the ability to improve capitalism because it will encourage employers to recognize the sacrifices and hard work of all employees now and in the future.