Career, Community, Cause and Covid-19 – what practical steps are you taking to improve employee engagement during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Our latest blog discusses how to improve employee engagement by 1) reconnecting with your company values and re-establishing a sense of corporate identity, 2) investing time in individual growth and meaningful operational conversations and 3) providing good quality communications, a virtual commute and both optional and compulsory collaborative activities. Read on to see our full list of suggestions.

Back in 2018 at our London Round Table event we talked about 2020 Leadership and what it would look like, never expecting the disruption that 2020 would bring. When it came to employee engagement and what people look for in choosing an organisation, there were 3 clear concepts:

CAREER – COMMUNITY – CAUSE

These 3 fundamental themes are perhaps even more important in the current climate when 84% of the workforce have at some point been working remotely (Effectory Covid-19 Workforce Pulse Survey, 2020). Once you have dealt with the practicalities, how are you engaging and interacting with your employees? It is not an easy task when you have groups of individuals all requiring a slightly different mix of support and connectivity.

So, how do we instil and improve employee engagement during the Coronavirus pandemic?

CAREER

autonomy, flexibility, learning, development

As an on organisation you cannot afford to put the capability of your people on hold and current evidence suggests that we are seeing an increase in both the effort and productivity of employees. Now is a prime time to tap into this and, if you haven’t already done so, have those operational performance conversations, encourage your team to reflect on their strengths and development areas and assess how they can play to these as the situation continues.

Remote working has brought about increased autonomy and time-management opportunities amongst the workforce – some may need to upskill, reskill and some may want to start to explore a new career path.  Investment in individual growth is really important,  whether that be through the provision of a self-led learning programmes, internal career transition support or simply by giving your team the flexibility to unleash their creativity, develop some new work-based habits and unlock their full potential and contribution to your organisation.

COMMUNITY

respect, wellbeing, recognition, connection

Microsoft have recently reported a 55% increase in the number of Teams meetings and a 48% increase in Teams Chats since the start of the pandemic. It is essential to stay connected to your employees but at the same time we also need to be mindful of blurring the lines between home and work – how much is too much? Striking the right balance between good quality, meaningful communication with your workforce and overloading their inbox is not always easy and often comes down to personal preference. It is good practice to really think about the quality and quantity of communications sent to the whole organisation and try to the limit these to one or two each week. Local managers need to be empowered with the tools, information and autonomy to best guide their teams and establish regular touch points and connections on both a one-to-one and team basis. Employees also need good chunks of time to work independently and actually get on with projects in hand rather than being forever sat in a meetings. Using short term specific goals with positive, regular feedback to celebrate the small successes is a good motivator for some colleagues.

For the remote worker a virtual commute can be helpful for their well-being, for example encouraging staff to take a walk around the block, write a next-day to-do list and take some time out to make the mental transition from work to home at the end and start of the day. Good use can also be made of the digital spaces available on an optional basis – community online pages, work buddies, informal zoom rooms for coffee and lunch, discussion forums etc are some ideas that help to keep teams connected on a more social level without it being forced upon them. As with all optional activities there are always some colleagues who prefer not to participate and therefore it is a good idea to schedule some compulsory, collaborative aspects into each project or a learning programme so you can drive engagement and connection with all your team members.

CAUSE

purpose, values & mission, collaboration

During a crisis of any sort employee engagement is vital for the survival of your organisation and it is crucial that both your leaders and your workforce reconnect with the company values and purpose and model behaviours that reflect these. When you start by focussing on the intersection between company and employee well-being you can very quickly begin to (re-) establish a sense of corporate identity and shared sense of purpose even amongst the most disparate team members. Take the social connection principles outlined above and combine these with regular and visible leadership sessions with managers and directors to clearly communicate to staff about the decisions being taken and the reasons behind them. Align your communication channels and give employees a way to respond to the situation as it develops – taking time to really listen to what they are saying and responding where possible will help to keep the workforce on board as you guide them through the pandemic.

At h2h we have been working with our customers over the last few months on a number of interventions, all delivered virtually, with the aim of going back to these 3 principles, taking care of their people and as a result increasing employee engagement. We are able to deliver a wide range of sessions through our Virtual Learning Portfolio – https://www.h2h.uk.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/h2h-Overview-of-Virtual-Learning-and-Development-May-2020.pdf

If you would like to have a no-obligation, confidential conversation with us about workforce effectiveness and engagement then please contact us as enquries@h2h.uk.com