Those who work in the transportation, food service and health care industries are considered essential as their duties are required for a functioning community. They may also help ensure public health and safety. Providing support for these employees can help them better perform their jobs and may increase their sense of passion and commitment to their positions. For this reason, many businesses and individuals are offering their support in many ways.
In this article, we explore who essential employees are, look at what essential work is, and provide tips on how you can support essential workers in your community.
Who are essential employees?
Generally speaking, essential employees are people who work in health care, pharmacies, transportation or food service. These professionals typically work outside of their homes in various locations to provide essential services to their community. Essential employees may continue to work despite harmful conditions or exposure to ensure people receive the goods and services they need. The roles that are considered essential are determined by each state and may vary in terms of duties and requirements.
Essential worker categories
There are 14 primary categories as denoted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. These categories may vary by state and include:
Health care: This includes employees working in both private and public health care sectors. Examples of essential healthcare employees include funeral home employees, blood and plasma donors, caregivers and pharmacists.
First responders: First responders make sure that the community has access to emergency help from trained medical professionals such as paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
Energy: This category includes those who work in the petroleum, electrical, propane and natural gas industries. Energy employees help ensure communities have reliable power and gas.
Agriculture and food: Agriculture and food employees make sure communities have access to food, and this category includes those who work in restaurants, grocery stores and food processing plants.
Public workers: Public employees help maintain public facilities. They may perform maintenance on public works operations, provide sanitation services and remove and dispose of hazardous waste.
Logistics and transportation: Those working in the logistics and transportation industry help ensure individuals can travel when necessary. Examples of these employees include truck drivers, air traffic controllers and transportation warehouse employees.
Information and communications technology: This category of employees helps keep the public current on news and developments.
Manufacturing: This category refers to employees who produce products and materials needed for transportation and the healthcare industry.
Community-based government operations: This category includes government employees who are critical to maintaining a functioning community. Examples of these employees may include weather forecasters and customs workers.
Financial services: The financial services category includes employees who work in insurance companies, financing and credit organizations and depository institutions.
Nuclear reactors, materials and waste: This category includes those who work to assist in the cleaning up and disposing of hazardous waste in various locations.
Defense industrial base: This category includes professionals who work to design, produce and maintain government weapons systems.
Chemical: This category includes those who work in organizations that store, use and transport harmful chemicals that other industries use.
Water and wastewater systems: The water and wastewater systems category includes employees who work to maintain healthy water supplies so communities have safe drinking water.
Why support essential workers?
Essential workers require community support because they work with the public regardless of external conditions These employees provide essential services like grocery checkout, pharmacy pickup and health care, all of which are an integral part of many people’s lives. Some essential employees also work in hazardous conditions and may be more likely to contract diseases or experience illness. Supporting these professionals can help them continue to perform their duties effectively and show support from their community.
7 ways to help essential workers in your community
Below are some tips for supporting essential workers in your community:
1. Offer to perform basic tasks
If you know an essential employee personally, offering to perform basic tasks for them can help ease their workload. For example, if the employee has a dog, you could offer to walk it while the employee is at work. Other examples of basic tasks you can help an essential worker with include running errands or grocery shopping.
2. Send coffee to your local medical facility
Some essential workers are so busy that they don’t have time to do simple things like getting a coffee on the way to work. One way to support your local healthcare team is to send coffee to their medical facility. This can brighten their day and show that their community cares about them.
3. Make a donation
Another way to show your support for essential employees is to donate to a community-based charity in honor of one or more essential workers. For example, you could donate cleaning supplies or canned food. This can help support the community in general and demonstrate your care for its essential employees.
4. Nominate an essential worker for an award
Several organizations recognize essential employees for their contributions. For example, you can nominate healthcare nurses for DAISY awards, which reward nurses with compassion and clinical skill. Many industries have specific institutions that offer recognition for employees, and if you’re unsure of where to look, a simple online search can help you find a specific organization to contact.
5. Advocate for government support
One way to show your support for essential workers in your community is to advocate for increased government support. This support can help provide salary and wage increases for these professionals. It may also help essential companies be able to offer their employees better benefits.
6. Promote the importance of career-building opportunities
Another way to support essential employees is to help promote the importance of career-building opportunities within their industries. For example, you could advocate for a training program that helps employees increase their skills and competencies. This can help essential workers build upon their current careers and earn career-building achievements.
7. Support mental health services
Essential workers may be more likely to experience burnout or mental health conditions such as anxiety due to the demands of their jobs. Helping essential employees become aware of mental health services available to them can offer them the chance to speak with a professional about their situations. This may support their overall mental health and how they view their positions.
I hope you find this article helpful.