Maintaining Staff Engagement During Covid-19
As we make our way through the pandemic that is Covid-19 and start to think about business continuity beyond the absolute basics of cashflow and financing, businesses now need to consider employees’ emotions in order to restore productivity.
'One of the top engagement drivers for employees is seeing their work contribute to company goals'
The significant impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on our personal and work lives is leading to anxiety, frustration and burnout.
When left unattended, these feelings can affect productivity and engagement, leading to poor work quality, errors and ultimately business continuity and your ability to survive as a business.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
Sense employees’ need for support
Business owners and managers need to recognise signs of distress among their people through conversations and observation.
It is important to maintain open communications with all your staff during this time and, more importantly, to cover those many sensitive topics including alternative work models, job security and prospects, impact to staffing, and tension in the workplace - this can happen even when you're all working remotely.
Promote dialogue to build understanding
To ensure communication efforts help, rather than hurt, engagement, this dialogue must be two-way.
Two-way communication with managers and peers provides employees with the information and perspective they need, while allowing them to express and process negative emotions and improve their feelings of control.
Use objectives to create clarity
A direct link between individual performance and the achievement of business goals can boost employees’ confidence in the importance of their job even in a challenging business environment.
Clear objectives and regular updates on possible changes will help ensure employees maintain focus, energy and a sense of purpose.
One of the top engagement drivers for employees is seeing their work contribute to company goals. Employees who feel confident about the importance of their job to the success of the organisation feel less anxious about their job security.
Tailor recognition to acknowledge employee efforts
As COVID-19 creates significant disruption, and undercuts employee engagement, managers need to redouble their recognition efforts. Effective recognition not only motivates the recipient but can serve as a strong signal to other employees of behaviors they should emulate.
Recognition can take many forms other than monetary rewards — public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, development opportunities and low-cost perks.
For organisations facing a slowdown in business, managers can take this opportunity to provide development opportunities to employees who normally do not have capacity. This reinforces the organisation’s commitment to the long-term success of the employee.
Drive engagement via innovation
While managers and employees may understandably become more risk-averse in this uncertain environment, it is these times of change and disruption that innovation and risk-taking become even more important for employee engagement and organisational success.
The disengaging effect of constraints on innovation and risk-taking are particularly severe for high-potential employees who tend to have a stronger desire for these types of opportunities.
Even when the organisation has constraints on new investments, managers can emphasise the need and provide opportunities for incremental innovation or process improvements. This can be particularly meaningful if it addresses a challenge the team or organisation is facing related to process disruptions or business impact.