Right now, many are in a place of Covid-19 fatigue where we’ve become numb to news. Everything feels stale. With schools re-opening, partially re-opening, businesses opening and Covid-19 cases on the rise, organization leaders have a bigger challenge than ever to communicate consistent messages and keep their collaborators safe and engaged.
What do your employees need to remain engaged, safe, and productive?
1. Physical and mental safety are fundamental. How in tune are senior leaders to frontline workers’ needs? Employees have real concerns about their and their families’ health. HR needs to dig deep. Who is living with someone vulnerable? Who are at risk for severe illness from Covid-19? Is your organization following OSHA safety precautions? How is your organization addressing your frontline workers’ mental and physical health needs?
2. Connection. The hybrid and remote working scenario many had discussed about the “future of work” is now. Connection, though, in the context of social connectivity and collaborative work is a key piece of employee engagement, even moreso in these strange, strange times. Remote team collaboration can be done, but it’s not easy! As an organization, it’s critical to:
a. Build balance.
b. Invest in new tools to connect, share, and track work. Instant messaging tools, project management tools, time-tracking tools, video conferencing tools.
c. Be consistent. Remote and hybrid working requires consistency, as it would at the workplace.
d. Set boundaries. Remote collaborative work doesn’t mean your teams are on-call 24/7. Being flexible about work doesn’t mean not honoring the boundaries your collaborators need.
3. Go beyond communication. The bullhorn just won’t work. Your organization needs to go beyond communication and begin explaining. If, for instance, some teams are going to remain virtual, others hybrid, and others 100% presential, explain why. Be transparent. Decisions should align with mission and vision, and communication must reinforce that. Likewise, overcommunicate about new safety protocols the organization is taking, not only to keep employees safe but also customers. Lack of information leads to employees creating erroneous narratives.
4. Survey your team. Take the guesswork out of what your team needs. Employing an engagement survey now maintains a sense of normalcy in extraordinary times. (Yes, we, too, are tired of the word “unprecedented”). Likewise, there are other great HR tools that can help you tap into what your collaborators need like the team assessment survey (free of charge) and the Covid-19 Organization Check-in. These tools give organization leaders a clearer idea of what their collaborators need. They provide an important space for collaborators to be honest about their concerns and experiences during Covid-19.
5. Empathy. Childcare, healthcare, elderly care and more are just a few things collaborators might be grappling with. By taking the time to listen to your employees and understanding their unique challenges, organization leaders have an opportunity to strengthen the way they do business. Connect with employees as often as you can to make the best decisions for your organization and its customers. Set up the employee engagement suggestion box to create a safe place for collaborators to share their concerns anonymously.
Unfortunately, this thing looks like it’s going to be around for a while. So, the best course of action is one that emphasizes transparency, communication, responsiveness, and empathy. Put your collaborators’ wellbeing first and succeed.