When your employees have to come to your office everyday, it’s easy to create engagement and a team environment. But how do you achieve this when your employees are either working from home or furloughed?
We’ve spoken to our clients about how they’re supporting employee engagement, and researched the best-practices being used by businesses in Thailand and around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s the top 7 super-effective methods we discovered:
1. Prioritise your employees’ wellbeing
Loneliness, childcare stress, home schooling, uncertainty, fear of infection, missing relatives, income anxiety – there’s a lot your employees will be worrying about right now. Your job is to support them. The very best employers are engaging their remote staff by prioritising their health and safety through support. Put their wellbeing at the centre of your business and let it guide your actions. You’ll create trust and loyalty that will last way beyond COVID-19.
2. Maintain your company culture
If you have a company culture that you’re proud of, do what you can to flow it through everything you’re doing now that you’re all apart. Your people will be missing all of the small things about coming to the office, the coffee breaks, the catch up chats, the lunchtime shopping and time spent simply having a laugh.
You need to make sure you’re replacing these important events with messaging and activities that are on-brand and on-culture. Regular communication is vital and will help employees feel a sense of togetherness, as well as deal with uncertainties about the business and their future. Over-communicate, express gratefulness and celebrate any win, no matter how small. Good article here on maintaining culture during lockdown.
3. Use tech
Regular emails, supportive videos and even mobile notifications if you have an app for employees can make a real difference to engagement, without a huge drain on resources. You already have this tech, just use it appropriately for staff stuck at home and apart form each other.
Your staff are bound to be asking questions and have concerns, so use your website to create a COVID-19 FAQ or start a knowledge hub online or on your intranet. Tech can give you massive leverage in getting content out that supports your employees and further builds your employer brand.
4. Be open
Share all of your HR resources, guidelines and legal documents pertaining to your employees’ employment. Keep your social media streams active and open about the company’s situation and plan moving forward. This will not only support employee engagement, but also customer and consumer relationships.
If you don’t have an intranet, social media can provide a replacement for the office chats that employees will be missing. Reply sections, polls and surveys are a great way for conversations to be started, discussions had, and remote-working feedback delivered.
5. Get creative
Now’s the time to think differently and take confident ownership of relationships within your business – think like an entertainer, not an employer. Send a survey out asking if any employees would like to make a video about something they’ve created during lockdown. Then place them in a central hub for all employees to enjoy – whenever they want, not just at breaktime.
Think about the issues your employees are facing when choosing videos, it could be isolation, bored children, fitness. For example: ‘Michael’s amazing Lemon Drizzle cake’, ‘Buppha’s 5 ways to keep your kids entertained during lockdown’, or ‘Chakrii’s water bottle workout’. Whatever it is, it’ll support employee engagment, keep relationships strong and show you care.
6. Ask individuals how they are and how you can help
Of course you’ll be doing this, but if it’s possible send targeted support and advice to specific employees based on the issues they’re facing. Everyone is having a different lockdown experience, some may be working less, some more, some have kids at home and some will be alone. By being personal and catering to individual needs, you will create phenomenal levels of trust and loyalty.
7. Tell them what you’re doing to keep them safe when they return to work
As well as keeping staff updated on when a return might be, you need to be communicating your plan for keeping them safe when they do. People need certainty right now, and showing you are preparing for a return to the workplace will be reassuring, particularly if you’re explaining how you’re making it a safe space. For support with this, check out our 7 ways to make your workplace safe for returning employees.
Use email, social and whatever channels you have to share your progress and exactly what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to be granular with this, it’s what your employees (and consumers) want to hear, so if you’ve bought 500 bottles of a specific hand sanitiser because it’s more effective than the rest, and you’re placing one on every desk and 10 in communal areas, then say it.
Right now, reassurance builds relationships, and engagement, more than ever before.
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