The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world for a loop. Businesses are temporarily closing their doors and asking thousands of employees to work from their in-home offices or – let’s be honest – kitchens and living rooms.
What does this mean for employee engagement? How will organizations keep panic at a minimum, maintain productivity, and keep business moving forward?
Social distancing and remote work might look and feel strange compared to what we’re used to, but we can (and should) maintain our daily office routines, with a few modifications. It is 2020, after all. Technological advancements in the past 20 years have made communication and distance-collaboration a near-effortless affair.
Nita Clarke and David MacLeod’s four enablers of employee engagement are not contingent on solely in-office environments. Businesses already use myriad channels to communicate with employees despite the availability of daily in-person interactions. The difference now – during the COVID-19 pandemic – is that these digital channels must be used as primary, not secondary, tools in engaging employees.
We’ve put together a list of suggestions to ensure your organization is providing (or maintaining) the employee engagement enablers that will keep everyone feeling fulfilled, purpose-driven and socially connected in the weeks ahead.
- Provide employees with a list of communication channels that are available and instructions on how & when to use those channels (don’t assume everyone knows how to use all the tools)
- Ask employees to share what is working well and what is challenging when it comes to working from home (WFH). Ask for suggestions to improve processes.
- Run polls and other automated check-ins (e.g. Slack’s Geekbot), as well as anonymous surveys, so employees can provide feedback throughout the disruption period.
- Communicate about communication. Help set expectations by explaining how the organization will stay connected and engaged, and then live up to those promises every day.
- Have a FAQ page that is updated regularly.
- Listen and continuously improve communication processes.
- Provide weekly WFH articles to employees.
- Schedule virtual coffee breaks every day (or set up a dedicated coffee break channel to allow for spontaneity) so employees can connect with each other on a purely social level.
- Encourage employees to share their experiences/tell their stories whether it’s about remote working or COVID-19.
- Remember to keep your organisation’s vision and values at the forefront of all communications.
- Provide regular updates and reports on the organization’s status. When you stop communicating with employees on a regular basis, the silence tends to be filled with rumour and speculation.
- Have the team-lead or CEO recognize/call out one team per week that he/she has noticed is excelling and living the organization’s values during the disruption period.
- Schedule audio or video calls to regularly check-in with employees in the form of “town halls”, smaller team meetings, and one-on-one chats.
- Provide a weekly video Q & A with the CEO
- Schedule a daily video Q & A with team leaders/managers
- Open a discussion for employees to share work-from-home tips and advice.
- Recognize your people. Schedule a video “social” once a week (or more) for employees to introduce their pets, play charades, host an “open mic”, etc.
With everything that’s going on right now, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Remember, most daily workplace routines can continue “as usual”; employee engagement through town halls, face-to-face meetings, team check-ins, water-cooler chat and coffee breaks will carry on – just virtually.
Author Bio: Stephanie Ball, works creatively with people, communities and technology to create comunication strategies and engaging content for not-for-profits and small businesses in Canada.
Photo Credit: Photo by Crew on Unsplash