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Maintaining Employee Engagement Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Maintaining Employee Engagement Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
23rd April 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has bought the entire globe to its knees. Not even the world's biggest and powerful countries can cope up with this crisis. With the present-day worldwide health-care system crumbling down in the fight against this crisis, our only option to save human lives is now dependent on us maintaining proper hygiene routines and practicing stringent social distancing. Every single country in the world has declared a state of emergency and has imposed strict lockdown protocols affecting every aspect of an individual's monotonous yet a normal life to its core. To keep necessary services and operations up, corporations are now forced to shift to a culture of work-from-home, to ensure business continuity.

With no positive news of an effective and safe cure for this disease anytime soon, it seems that we have no other choice but to adjust to this new and confusing lifestyle. The negative impact of this pandemic outbreak leads to employees having anxiety, frustration, and ultimately burnout. If such issues are unattended, these tend do affect employees productivity and employee engagement, leading to poor work quality and eventually impacting an organization’s survival during such times.

Hence corporate leaders and organizations need to foster engagement and productivity in the daily lives of employees. Such practices steer the organization's focus on employees' emotions related to the pandemic to restore productivity.

There are many online tools available to keep your employees engaged and motivated. We highly recommend this article, if you are looking for a quick overview of the list of resources for working from home:
300+ best tools and resources for working from home [2020].

Just using the above tools is not enough. When and how to use these tools to ensure that your employees get the support to tackle this crisis. Below listed are the ways in which you can manage employee engagement.

All hands on the deck

Nobody has to figure all of this out on their own. Engage your team's help in planning the response to COVID-19. Where some job responsibilities may have decreased/stopped, new priorities have been set up. Together as a team determine what activities and responsibilities the employees should be focusing on in the short term. Ensuring your team has enough work (make sure that it is not too much) and providing decision-making opportunities to them, supports their mental health in general.

If you haven’t had a career evaluation conversation with your employees recently, now is the best time to quickly re-evaluate where they want to grow and what skill sets they can offer other areas of the business at this desperate time.

Track Goals

It is very easy for employees to lose a sense of their goals while working from home. Host team stand-ups — on a weekly or a daily basis, to have the team outline their top priorities. At the end of the week/day, they can report back to their managers on the current status of those priorities. Project Managers should step in if there is any misalignment of priorities. Use tools such as Jira, Trello, Notion, and Asana to keep track of the project goals.

Promote better communication practices.

Ensure that you can have a two-way dialogue with your employees. Two-way communication with managers and teammates provides employees with the information and clarity they need while allowing them to express and process their emotions and improve their feelings of control.

Use tools meant for video conferencing to mingle with your peers. Some of the commonly used tools that we use are Google Hangouts and Jamm.

Host online team building activities and games

Just like the way it is in your office, you can also hold virtual team building activities for all your remote employees. Team building activities form an essential part of every employee engagement program. Such activities consist of various tasks that help to bring employees together to work as a team. There are numerous innovative ways and tools with which you can still host team-building activities online and involve all your employees to display unity in such difficult times.

If you are still unclear about what kind of team-building activities you can carry out then below is a list of resources that can be used irrespective of your team size.

Ensure flexibility with work

When employees work-from-home, they have their household chores and personal matters to deal with. Be compassionate and allow them with some flexibility to deal with their matters. Also, at this time, actively make time for more feedback.

Provide support to employees

Managers need to recognize the signs of distress among their teams. They should guide their teams apart from work matters. This can include busting the myths and revealing facts on COVID-19 through email announcements and notifications and in general how to deal with it.

Acknowledge them with instant appreciation

Acknowledging the efforts that your employees put in during this time not only motivates them but can also serve as a positive signal for others to reflect on. Recognition rewards can either be monetary rewards or public acknowledgment of their efforts.
Try to keep a cloud-based employee rewards and recognition system. This even allows other employees to nominate their colleagues for other various rewards.

Conclusion

It is important to remind your team that a lot of things might change in the coming days, but plenty of things will remain constant even after this crisis is over. Make it a point to provide an anchor for your employees and reinforce the things that are not going changing to provide a much-needed sense of stability.
Hence as an employer, you must look forward to keeping your employees satisfied and motivated no matter where they work from.

Further Resources to read: GitLab’s Guide to All-Remote Working (GitLab)
A guide to managing your (newly) remote workers (HBR)
How to work from home if you’ve never done it before (New York Times)
Prepare your team to work from home (LinkedIn)


Author(s)

Siddhartha Gunti

Siddhartha is a Co-Founder of Adaface, an AI recruiting software. Adaface helps companies automate their first-round tech interview with an AI chatbot. As the first-engineer turned PM at Headout, Siddhartha built the V1 of the product at Headout and later an 18 member tech team with engineers from Google, Facebook and Amazon to scale the product to 1M users.


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