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Maintaining Employee Engagement

May 27, 2020 Anna Adams

For a lot of us who are non-essential workers, the emergence of Coronavirus means we’ll be spending the foreseeable future telecommuting. Of course, remote work presents its own set of challenges from an employee perspective, but it also puts a great deal of strain on employers to maintain staff engagement, especially during such a difficult time. Obviously, companies need to deal with budgetary concerns first and foremost, but they also must keep up employee morale to make it through this difficult period.

Strengthen Communication

If your employees are all working from home, it’s crucial that you implement some sort of daily communication to stay in touch. A recent study published in the World Economic Forum found that when it comes to remote work—communication and collaboration pose the biggest challenge.

Chat & Instant Messaging

There are so many interpersonal dynamics in an office that contribute to team building which, if you are like us, you end up taking for granted. When we’re all forced to work from home, we lose that but we can at least partially reverse this trend by using any number of instant messaging platforms. Consider starting a Microsoft Teams channel or a Slack thread so everyone can feel a bit more connected. Communication in this sense doesn’t have to be particularly formal either; it should simply be viewed as a means to stay in touch and prevent employee burnout by replacing those water cooler conversations with a comment thread on whose dog makes for the better co-worker.

High-Level Communications

It’s also important that you find an outlet for disseminating information critical to your staff and overall operations. Stress and uncertainty are at an all-time high right now, but you lessen this for your employees by addressing the situation head-on.  A recent report from ClearEdge Marketing suggests utilizing your company’s intranet or website for high-level messaging so everyone’s on the same page. Additionally, regular email updates from HR and management can also help your staff stay connected and engaged.

Help Where You Can

Given the present circumstances, several of our clients are trying to make a positive impact and help those most affected by Coronavirus. Places like food banks and homeless shelters are in dire need, and we’re seeing a lot of companies and organizations pull their resources together to help the most vulnerable in society.

If you’re looking for ways to get involved, just know this doesn’t have to be a meticulously planned initiative; It can simply be a series of posts or a hashtag, and a way for others to make their own contributions to your cause. A recent survey found that 56% of consumers are pleased to hear about companies  taking action during times of crisis, so getting your employees involved on behalf of your organization can go a long way in keeping them engaged through this uncertain time.

We want to urge caution, however, when it comes to campaigns of this nature. This is a highly sensitive time, and organizations could come across as tone deaf if their efforts appear too self-promotional. The primary focus should be helping those in need and your tone should be eloquent, direct but also self-aware. Effective initiatives will not only bring about a positive impact, but also garner support and boost employee morale.    

Be Flexible

Lastly, we suggest creating some breathing room for your employees by allowing for flexibility in their daily tasks, when practical. Some employees may be working from home for the very first time, which is a difficult transition on its own, let alone amid current circumstances. People that work in sales or recruiting, for instance, cannot meet their prospects face-to-face, and thus must figure out an entire new way to carry out their day-to-day. Managers should take this into account and remain aware that household duties, especially in households with children, will sometimes interfere with work responsibilities and some tasks can still be completed outside the bounds of the old standard workday.

These are just a few ways to foster employee engagement during these difficult times. Companies should strive for this not only to keep up their teams’ morale, but also because there is still valuable recruiting business to be won, especially in the IT space. The next few months will be trying for several reasons, but at the very least you can give your organization a leg up by taking employee engagement seriously.

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