Employee Engagement During COVID-19Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 9 December 2020 Issues covered: Employee Engagement; Communication; HR Updates
Most workplaces have faced the consequences of the global pandemic, with many businesses having to adapt to new unforeseen challenges and employee behaviors. This has resulted in many employers facing the challenge of less engaged or demotivated employees.
Employee engagement is the relationship and commitment an employee has to their employer. Employee engagement is the responsibility of all of the leadership team at every level. This is not a necessarily primarily a human resource issue as it is important that all business leaders recognize that they are front and center in harboring an engaged workforce. The responsibility rests with management on nurturing collaborative communications and engagement methods to emotionally connect with their team.
In order to positively engage employees during these challenging times, it's essential to foster working relationships to ensure collaboration amongst all employees. Engaged employees will contribute to the speed at which your business recovers from the impact of the pandemic so leadership teams should seize the opportunity to foster relationships with their team on an individual basis - turning the negative of the pandemic into a positive as best as reasonably possible. It’s vitally important that Company’s approach employee engagement as an on-going dialog.
Collectively we need to physically keep our distance, however, there has never been a greater need to socially come together. Adapting to the change of remote working or reduced working can have implications on the employee’s overall motivation, performance or wellbeing. Recognizing that employees need to feel connected with their colleagues and their work will help build a resilient and positive workforce. Employers can do this by way of; weekly communications/meetings, newsletters, feedback/reviews or employee recognition programs. This list is not exhaustive.
Great leadership teams will recognize that employees are their biggest asset and it is those leaders who will recognize the need to seize this opportunity to foster professional meaningful relationships in order to increase employee and Company resilience.
Communication is paramount and it’s vitally important to keep all of the team updated. This not only facilitates trust but also reduces uncertainty in a time when humanity need some reassurances. A primary element of trust an employee will have in their leadership is communication and transparency. Where an employee has visibility and is fully communicated with on the business’s strategy, they are more likely to trust the leadership team, feel valued and engage in the business operation. Supervisors and Managers should take a few minutes of the day to talk to their team in order to discuss how people are doing. A good way to begin the dialog between the leadership team and the employee is to commence the process of one to ones, these conversations can act as a check-in to ensure the productivity and performance of the task is meeting the required standards, but it also allows for the opportunity of discussing anything additional that the employee may wish to raise. This in turn allows the Company an opportunity to rectify any obstacles that may present in the working relationship.
Leadership teams should focus on assisting employees achieve their goals. Whether it’s personal or professional development, employees who know their growth is supported and invested in will be more engaged, motivated and productive.
Anxiety and Mental Wellbeing
It’s prudent to understand that many employees will have a genuine fear or worry of getting sick. This worry may be that; they fear getting sick themselves, the safety of their close contacts outside of work, or bringing COVID-19 home. Employees who are older or have an underlying health condition which makes them more susceptible to COVID-19 may have enhanced fear within the workplace. Whilst there may not have been an express term within a Manager’s job description, there is now an implied responsibility to reassure your team of employees in order to ensure the level of engagement and confidence is maintained during this period. It’s vitally important that your team understand who they can speak to; whether that be their supervisor/ manager, a colleague or the EAP service provider if applicable.
As employers there is a need to recognize that the employee’s home life co-exists with their work life when working remotely. There are many ordinary life interactions which take place at home which the employer has limited control over. A degree of flexibility needs to be extended as an equal expectation on quality and performance may not always be realistic. Often employees may become overwhelmed, begin to feel anxious or lose motivation as a result of the additional stressors of their co-existing life or interruptions of other household members. It is vitally important that employers be flexible and reassuring with the employee. Companies may wish to consider facilitating healthy discussions around anxiety and mental health or discussions regarding; healthy eating, snacking when at home and managing time effectively, which are all key areas when working remotely.
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