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Staying Connected & Engaged During COVID - 19 Pandemic
24th April 2020
The ongoing COVID - 19 pandemic has brought with it an environment of uncertainty. Organizations around the world are trying their best to cope with these unforeseen times. It is in times of such uncertainty that we need to focus on our teams stay and keep them engaged & connected at all times.
The recently released LinkedIn’s inaugural Workforce Confidence Index states that -
- Only 29% of people said their company is providing the equipment necessary for remote working.
- Less than a quarter said employers are providing care for their emotional well-being.
The Challenge of Social Distancing -
To slow down the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, social distancing is the norm of the hour. It is one of the primary precautions to be taken by all. Asking employees to work from home has become an imperative for most companies. Social distancing is not easy for us humans, after all, we are “social beings”.
Some of the challenges that we tend to face during such times include -
• Challenge of Isolation
• Challenge of Personal Distractions/lack of focus
• Stressing out over the safety of family & friends
• Limited access to basic amenities, work equipment, etc
Whether by offering work from home or working onsite at a limited strength, organizations have to support their people in adjusting to the changing times and in the new work methods.
Staying connected with your people during lockdown
Most employees are as efficient and productive (or evermore) at home as at their workplaces – provided their management follows a clear and effective Communication process. Having a proper communication system in place is imperative. Ensure that your team is familiar with the remote communication tools that are going to be used. There are a lot of programs like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, Slack, Trello, etc. available that make remote working easy.Quick Tips -
• Have regular and meaningful one-on-one dialogue with your team.
• Choose virtual office software, all your employees are comfortable using.
• Don’t overload your employees with the meets.
• Use video options when feasible for a personal connection.
The prime focus for any organization during these times is to keep their employee engagement levels elevated and their employees motivated. Here are a few insights on how you can do that –
• Run a short pulse survey to know how your teams are faring and what can you do to better improve their work experience.
• Recognize efforts of your team more often and encourage your managers to do so too. Ensure that you make your employees feel appreciated for their hard work, especially now.
• Run a few fun initiatives like virtual lunch or a short morning tea chat, etc. As per a study, virtual events help reduce the feeling of isolation and foster a sense of belongingness.
• Give your employees realistic targets, focus more on results and less on activities.
Promote Employee Well-being
The current lockdown situation can take a toll on people and can affect them in different ways – mentally, emotionally and operationally. It’s crucial for organizations to focus on the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. Organizations need to talk to their employees about maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Leaders should be encouraging their team to become personally accountable for their wellness and health.
• Help your employees lead a productive, safe and healthy routine while they work remotely.
• Encourage them to take short breaks from their daily work schedule, during the day – looking away from the screen for some time, moving around, taking a quick walk within the house, stretching, getting some fresh air, etc. all this does make a difference. Looking away from the screen is especially helpful for the employees prone to Digital Eye Syndrome like IT or research and development teams, who tend to spend a lot of time in front of their systems.
• Encourage your employees to make the adjustments they require in order to strike a healthy work-life balance.
• Try and have an open conversation with your employees on wellness and mental health as these topics are often shied away from.
• If cost is not a constraint really, then offer short e-learning programs, peer mentoring, wellness coaching programs for your employees.
The management/leaders should make themselves available across multiple virtual communication portals as and when needed. You can make use of your or your company’s social media accounts to write posts, share interesting and engaging content, host Q&A sessions, go live, share videos, and encourage people to respond. Connect with them and help them connect with you.
Show Your Employees that you care
Sometimes, a pep talk is all that’s needed. As organizations across the world move more and more towards remote working setups, a sense concern, stress, ambiguity and that has started to creep in among people. The confidence levels among people seem to be shaken by these uncertain times. All this can have an impact on performance levels, productivity, efficiency, etc. Now is the time that your workforce needs to feel connected to their team, to their roles, to their goals and to their management, the organization, as a whole.
Ask your employees how are they adjusting to the current working situation; what kind of challenges are they facing. Set up video calls, conference calls, quick informal check-ins, etc. to know if there are any emotional/psychological that need to be looked into. Try and have general conversations and do not make it work related for a change. It’s now, more than ever, that you need to make your team realize “we’re in this together”.
Supporting your people has become important more than ever. Employees look for their company’s support to adjust to the changing times, to be able to work smoothly and to keep their morale up. Offer assistance and support to the best of your ability. It’s just a matter of time before things get back to normal and your team will come out of it stronger and more resilient team.
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