Five Ways Local Governments Support Their Staff After COVID Shutdowns

-By Heather Locke, Polco/NRC

The COVID crisis affects everyone in large and small ways, even those whose professional focus is to support their communities. Acknowledging this stress and offering techniques to ensure the wellbeing of all staff is a top priority. We asked several local governments what they are doing to support a healthy workforce that is largely working remotely. 

Here are some of their best practices:

  1. Virtual conference cocktail hour. No work-related topics are allowed! This is time to share pictures of pets or family, take a virtual walk around the neighborhood, do a silly ice-breaker exercise, create a fun and light-hearted environment to connect on a personal level. Alcohol is of course optional! 
  2. Daily email with a stress-reduction suggestion or tips for working from home. Health and Human Services sends a supportive email daily to help reduce anxiety or work more effectively from home. These can be text-only or videos linked in the emails. This department can be a cheerleader for the organization!
  3. Public service recognition week: send surprise email gift! Gift cards that can be used online do not have to be high-value to express appreciation for staff under the current circumstances.
  4. Internal TV Coms with informative and fun messaging. TV monitors in City buildings can run messages to keep employees informed and updated as well as sharing pictures of pets and vacations. Seeing people 6-10 feet apart is a way to stay connected and inspired even when we’re not traveling or working together for a time.
  5. Daily Briefings. The city manager and/or senior management makes daily briefings available for all city staff. This humanizes the organization and allows for direct communication with senior staff, reducing stress with information and connection.

Daily connection, helpful tips, and ongoing staff appreciation can make everyone feel connected and cared for, even when we are connecting virtually.

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