The mental health repercussions of this pandemic are yet to be fully understood, though there have been early indications that they will be long lasting. As the providers of rental apartments, we are an essential service and most of our staff have come to work in-person since March 2020. We could see early on that the stress and strain of increased cleaning protocols, wearing heavy PPE, providing additional supports to our residents, and applying new business protocols/procedures at a dizzying rate against the backdrop of living through a global pandemic risked the mental health of many of our staff members. In an attempt to mitigate the potential mental health strain Osgoode decided to support them early and often in taking care of their mental health. We implemented several strategies and made sure to communicate clearly about how to access them.
Here are 7 examples of how we supported our staffs’ mental health during this time:
- Expanded Benefits Coverage: In addition to adding an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to our benefits plan we also doubled the amount available for psychological services for individual employees and their families.
- Additional Days Off: Osgoode issued all site staff additional days off to take at their discretion in additional to expanding office closures during the holiday season.
- Hired Additional Support: To help support the increased cleaning protocols and staff shortages due to mandatory isolations Osgoode contracted with a cleaning company to help with the extra cleaning and hired additional full-time employees to ensure full support in the office.
- Paid Sick & Vaccine Leave: We always encourage our employees to take care of their health and to stay home when they are sick but that has never been a more important message than during this pandemic year. We offered full paid coverage, outside of their normal sick time, for any employee who had to isolate as a result of COVID-19 related guidelines. We let our employees know early during the vaccine roll out that they can take the time they need to get vaccinated without it counting against their time banks.
- Scheduling Support during School Closures: School closures are an unprecedented event and we wanted to make sure that all our employees knew that we would support them during a time of high stress and anxiety. We have worked with any staff faced with school closures to create a schedule that works for them and their family.
- Appreciation: Celebrating our employees is always important but never more so than during the past year. We used several different methods to thank our team including in-person when we see people, video messages, emails and sending holiday packages to each employee. Sometimes a thank you can go a long way in letting someone know that their contributions are valued and appreciated.
We recognize our team as being one of our most valuable assets. We want to ensure our people feel safe and supported while at work even during these unprecedented challenging times.