#PeopleProductivity Event: COVID-19 and the role of Line Managers 

At the November #PeopleProductivity event, Sarah Pass, Nadia Kougiannou and Maranda Ridgway from the Line Manager TAG spoke about the group’s research on the role of the line manager in fulfilling their organization’s engagement policies.

Exploring what engagement means in practice, the group examined engagement initiatives across several organizations. The findings highlighted how developing and implementing successful engagement initiatives required a series of roles to be fulfilled by all stakeholders in the organization: from senior management to front-line staff.

You can find out more about the different roles at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/employee-engagement_tcm18-59083.pdf

COVID -19, Remote working and the impact of technology

The remainder of the session focused on the dramatic changes to the way we work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most fundamental has been the increase in remote working and the use of technology.

As a result of COVID, there has been a dramatic rise in homeworking and an astonishing increase in our use of technology. This has had a big impact on how organizations connect with their employees and has placed an even greater emphasis on the role of the line manager in encouraging and maintaining their team’s engagement and productivity levels remotely.

Hints and Tips:

During the event, breakout sessions were used to consider how line managers can encourage engagement and productivity of remote workers and reflected on how technology could be utilised effectively. Below are some considerations and suggestions from participants:

  1. Make clear aims and objectives to online meetings – Zoom-fatigue is real and needs to be managed.
  2. Increase communication and encourage line managers to have 1-2-1s with staff. Be mindful that these remain ‘checking-in’ opportunities, not ‘checking-up’.
  3. Line managers need to get to know their staff and show compassion. Really important to use listening skills. Put cameras on to pick up on important body language cues. Making the effort to get in touch makes it somehow more meaningful.
  4. The lines between work and life have become blurred and line managers should encourage a more equal balance. To achieve this, examples included: having an informal close-off meeting on a Friday, encouraging staff to switch off laptops/emails at weekends, adding a statement in your signature stating you do not expect a response to your email outside of working hours.
  5. Nominating people to be a lead on wellbeing and engagement – organising online events, get-togethers, workshops etc.
  6. Decreases in productivity are associated with declines in mental wellbeing. Reluctance to ask for help in the remote environment and employees can struggle to make connection with colleagues.
  7. Trust is a huge part in engagement and if employees feel that they are being monitored, the psychological contract can be damaged (or broken).
  8. As a line manager, it is important to maintain frequent contact, listen to what individuals are saying and show compassion.
  9. Treat tech as an enabler – it is the servant not the master! Don’t use it if it doesn’t add value.
  10. Use breakout rooms EARLY to get people involved and engaged – e.g. discuss in pairs what you’re feeling today, how the day is going etc. This also enables time for everyone to transition from one meeting to the next, whilst also connecting with colleagues.

Our next #PeopleProductivity event is on the 20th January. Each month we explore a different topic. Come and join us on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 4.30-5.30pm. Details on booking a place will be posted in the EFS newsletter.

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