Over the course of the last several weeks, the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has altered nearly everyone’s life in some meaningful way. Local and federal governments have taken rigorous measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus while companies and organizations are also taking steps to protect their employees and customers.
Like many organizations, PRADCO has temporarily transitioned meetings to occur on virtual platforms and via conference calls, thus giving our employees the opportunity to work remotely. While social distancing is operationally the responsible decision, it can, unfortunately, come with some potential negative repercussions. Employees may be more subject to adverse feelings such as isolation, which can have negative effects on company engagement. Organizations applying safeguards to protect their employees’ physical well-being would also benefit from implementing processes to help maximize employee mental well-being during these tough times.
Here are some ways to keep employee engagement up during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
1. Provide employees an outlet to share experiences
It’s important to remember that your business has a human element with workers who are experiencing a multitude of different emotions. Employees are facing difficult personal and financial challenges that can provoke stress and fear. Providing employees outlets to share their feelings and circumstances with one another can create social-support networks and enhance personal connections. Look for opportunities during virtual meetings and conference calls for employees to share what they are going through with one another and how they are adjusting to our temporary “new normal.” It is also important to keep in mind that some employees may be hesitant to share their feelings in a group atmosphere, so managers should also offer one-on-one avenues for people to reach out to them personally. Make sure to check in regularly with employees to maintain an active pulse on how they are managing through the uncertainty.
2. Empathize with the challenges that employees are facing
Nearly everyone is impacted in some way by the Coronavirus and it is imperative for organizations to understand the issues employees in their workforce are encountering. It can be helpful for managers or HR professionals to reach out individually to employees in their workforce to understand how they are personally impacted. More importantly, we need to empathize with our team members and do our best to relate to what they are going through. When team members share a hardship, ask follow-up questions to truly understand the issue and provide support by simply validating that their challenge is a difficult one. Now, more than ever, maintaining an engaged workforce requires listening, understanding, and compassion for the challenges that lie ahead.
3. Schedule virtual huddles to encourage employees
It is natural to focus on the potential consequences and worst-case scenarios associated with the Coronavirus. While these are legitimate concerns, it can be beneficial to look for ways to encourage the people in your workforce. One way to accomplish this is by scheduling virtual huddles that deliver positive and optimistic messages. The designated leader of the huddle can share inspirational thoughts and stories to energize employees. This can help shift the employee’s perspective to a more positive point of view. Huddles can also be a place where people can share their personal successes and troubleshoot problems that they are experiencing together. This can help create a sense of teamwork and unity.
The actions we take during the most difficult times are what defines us as leaders and what our employees will remember when this challenge is in the past. Right now, providing an outlet for our team members to share their experiences and then empathizing with what they are going through is one of the best things we can do. While we can’t put all their concerns at ease, at least we can let our team members know we care, which is the best way to engage them during this time.
As new working environments emerge, such as remote work, it can be beneficial to reevaluate the employee & leadership behaviors required to thrive in a new environment. Assessing your organizational needs from employees and leaders may help drive better results.