It’s no secret that COVID-19 is causing anxiety and stress for many business owners and their employees. If you’re like many businesses that have shifted some staff or even your entire team to remote working, you’ve most likely been faced with many different challenges in the HR space. And let’s not forget, as humans we all handle change very differently and some not so well at all.
What is engagement anyway?
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to your organisation and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees care about their work and their company on a deeper level. They don’t work just for a pay cheque, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organisation’s goals.
When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.
Why is engagement so important?
In a nutshell, if our employees are engaged we’ll see:
- Higher productivity
- Less absenteeism
- Less presenteeism
- An intention to stay longer with your business
Top 5 tips for maintaining staff engagement levels during COVID-19 and Beyond
One thing in the HR space that’s difficult to achieve when you have staff doing dramatically reduced hours and/or working remotely (especially if your business is new to the concept), is how difficult it can be to maintain company culture and engagement levels across your staff.
And you’ve probably found engagement levels across your staff have dropped off since Covid-19 started hitting us in March. So now is the time we as Business Owners need to show strong leadership and actually deepen our connections with and across our staff rather than disconnect or we are going to be the ones who’ll pay the price.
1. Communicate transparently with your staff – Keep them informed and control the narrative. Transparent communication is an important organisational tool to help build resilience because it reduces uncertainty, which is one of the biggest threats to employee engagement. In the absence of information from you, rumour will fill the void for them (Facebook etc – misinformation, wrapped up in a lot of emotional language)
One suggestion: Send an email from yourself to all staff once a week.
- Use a positive tone
- Advise of any new information that affects them or is of interest to them
- Give staff a sense of certainty that you have their backs and will keep communicating regularly and more frequently if new information comes to light that is relevant
2. Look out for signs your team may be struggling. This is about communication flowing back to you. Need to check in on them regularly as the situation unfolds. Ideally whatever method you use to do this checking in, you want to be able to track the impact the changes and developments are having on them over time.
One suggestion: Send a Staff Check-In Survey that checks in on staff wellbeing and business continuity
- Make the survey short
- Ensure it can be completed on any computer or mobile device, so staff can take part no matter where they are working
- Design questions related specifically to staff wellbeing and business continuity so you can get accurate insights in to what emotional and practical barriers might be holding back productivity.
- Create structure and routine – this is about everyone having clarity around your expectations of them and trying to keep some sense of normalcy where possible at this time. Productivity rises when routines and structure are well understood across team members.
One suggestion: Morning check-ins with the team (huddles) are an easy one to get started with, especially for those new to remote working. By having a regular check-in with your team, you’ll improve your communication and this structure in their schedule will help them set their day up for success. It also helps with reducing the feeling of isolation that comes with working from home.
Another suggestion: If you had Friday drinks or birthday morning tea’s then continue these via zoom
- Recognition – Even outside of a pandemic situation, recognition is one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement, and a key reason that employees might stay or leave. Neglecting this fact during these challenging times is likely to have long-term consequences for the business due to reduced productivity on the job.
Given world events, it’s easy for business to push employee recognition down the list of priorities. But it’s actually more essential than ever. During times like these, if you have staff working from home, it’s all too common for them to feel as though they’re “out of sight, out of mind”. It’s crucial to make them feel like they’re still part of the team.”
Remember: What gets recognised gets repeated and when you make the recognition public, it amplifies it to others, and increases trust and transparency in the process.
- Show support for Mental health. As the pandemic drags on, the data is becoming clearer that COVID-19 is not just an infectious disease issue – we are looking at a mental health crisis. So creating a culture of caring during these times of uncertainty is going to help maintain engagement.
One suggestion: Emphasise in your communications with the team how important the following are:
- Family time
- Eating healthy
- Switching off
- Team based Yoga sessions
- Invest in flu shots for all
- Invest in programs like Brain Training to help your people build resilience
HR Tactics – HR Consultants Brisbane – Outsourced HR
5 Top Tips for Maintaining Engagement During COVID-19 and Beyond!
This information was provided with the intention of helping you find more clarity, confidence and peace of mind as you navigate your own journey as an employer. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and if you think someone else would enjoy it please feel free to share it on.
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