There is no way around it - these are stressful times. Not only are people worried about the economy and their jobs, but they’re also concerned about the personal wellbeing of themselves and their families. Despite us being months into the pandemic, the uncertainty feels like the only thing that is certain. Still, the business must go on. Employee engagement is a must.
So what does a business owner or company leader do to keep their team motivated and ensure employee engagement when things seem to keep changing and there’s so much uncertainty?
First of all, acknowledge how different things are now. While it would be nice and perhaps easier to ignore how much has changed, it’s not realistic. People are missing that everyday connection we were used to. Chatting with co-workers, having lunch together and other seemingly mundane tasks really kept us connected. More than ever, people are feeling isolated so if you can acknowledge this while also offering creative solutions that allow people to connect it will go a long way to helping their mental health. This will be a long game.
Even though we’re all in the same storm, we are not in the same boat. Communicating your empathy with the current situation and making your team feel heard and understood with their varied circumstances is extremely important. Communication during troubling times is of the utmost importance. Be very clear on what you are doing to adapt to these changes, let people feel heard, and have an open line for information to be passed to. Frequent communication assures your employees feel like you care about their wellbeing and are be vigilant in your efforts to stay on top of the situation. It also provides confidence in leadership and when people feel confident in their leaders they also tend to be much more productive. What may feel like over-communication is the right amount of communication.
Also, it may not be realistic in every situation but having some extra flexibility can be a wonderful morale boost for your employees. People’s routines and schedules have been completely thrown for a loop so offering some wiggle room with regular policies can allow for some much-needed relief. Many people are dealing with lots of changes all at once - whether it be having their children home full time, routines changing, tiring of this “new” routine, limited access to services or new working environments - and extending some leeway may be just what they need to take the edge off. Personal stress is a productivity killer so anything you can do to help mitigate that will go a long way.
Make your employees feel safe in their environment. Have a solid plan in place to deal with COVID and make certain that all employees know what is expected and offered to help combat the issue in the workplace when it is safe for your team to return to the office. Having protocols in place shows your employees that you are concerned about their health and can make them feel taken care of and appreciated. Yes, there are legal requirements for things you must provide in the workplace but anything extra you can do to make people feel safe and comfortable will be welcomed.
Help keep your employees focused by keeping goals at the forefront of communication. Break large goals up into smaller pieces and celebrate the milestone wins along the way. Taking the time to acknowledge those who have made significant contributions to projects or deadlines will set your team up for success as positive energy multiplies and spreads. There is no doubt that maintaining motivation during difficult times is a tall order, so get creative in ways you can make your employees feel appreciated and valued. Simple gestures can make a big impact.
This is an odd time, to say the least, and everyone handles this type of stress differently. Some days you may have everything in check, the next day you don’t. It is OK.
Check-in on your employees, be empathetic, and lead by example. A lot of people still haven’t gotten used to the isolation they have been dealing with for months. Even if you can’t be physically close, try and find ways for your team to come together to create community and comradery. It doesn’t have to be forced, a daily team check-in can serve both business and routine needs for your employees to still feel part of your company.
Communicate, celebrate the wins, and keep your goals in check. More than anything, people need strong leadership right now so set a strong example and your team will thank you.
How are you being strong for your team? How are you continuing employee engagement? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.