According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, absenteeism costs employers $1,685 per employee per year in productivity losses. And the leading cause of absenteeism is depression, notes the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental health issues, such as depression and even loneliness, are a byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic and as employers of essential workers, they are something the grocery industry cannot ignore.
“Employee morale is at an all-time low, and it’s even more difficult because of the high uncertainty in these times,” said Cristian Grossmann, CEO of Beekeeper, an employee communication platform, during an interview with WGB. “I think that’s where being close to the people, communicating transparently and regularly is super important.”
Grossmann notes that in-person connection is vital, but a digital interaction also is valuable, especially in the era of social distancing. Beekeeper’s platform allows videos from the leadership team to be distributed and watched by all members of the company almost in real time, so response to any issue that needs addressed can be almost instantaneous. On the flip side, leadership can also recognize outstanding efforts by staff members in real time. This type of top-down recognition can help create trust, especially in a time of emotional unrest, Grossmann said: “It helps [employees] feel appreciated. … They have a way to connect with the rest of the company to feel heard, to have a voice. That’s very important.”
The platform also acts as central digital gathering spot for all the information employees need to perform their duties, from safety requirements to work schedules and ways to communicate directly with other team members, which helps build trust.
Two-way communication—top down and bottom up—also is key to maintaining employee morale. It also has the benefit of providing agility and productivity, Grossmann said.
“Grocery stores are an essential part of our society,” he said. “I think grocery workers struggle a lot with certain parts of their job. … They’re exposed to customers and they already have quite a difficult job. And I think they can recognize when a company implements technology that allows them to do their work easier. That’s the best type of support.”
In general, communication is what helps keep employee morale up. “I think the human component is also irreplaceable,” Grossman said. “The human component is still an important one. I think putting emphasis on the health and safety part and being very clear about what are the measures and what are the things that are being done in order to make sure that their jobs and their health is really secure would be the second point.”
In addition to helping maintain morale, creating easy ways to communicate and share information also has a positive impact on the business as a whole. Grossman said that his customers using these types of communication technologies increase by 7% to 9%.