Employee engagement during Covid-1915.04.20
Chief Innovation Officer
One of the most interesting things about employee engagement is that, when things are going well, you can easily not notice it. But when an organisation's culture is tested, that's when engagement really comes to life.
When you need your employees to step up and work together, your culture can really flourish. According to new research, just over half of employees strongly agree that they are well prepared to do their job considering the impact COVID-19 is having. Employees around the world seem to be adapting quite well to the ‘new normal’.
How can HR teams make sure their culture remains great and their employees engaged when there’s huge potential to feel stressed and anxious as the current social distancing rules last longer and longer?
Over Index on Communication
This is a time when actively engaging with your employees is most critical. Your employees will not only be scrutinising management at this time, they will be looking to their employer for leadership.
You should be regularly communicating with your employees. There is so much misinformation going around, and many employees will be trying to avoid to the news or social media so as to not fuel their anxiety further. You, the employer, can become the trusted source by sharing the most important official updates.
Communication helps senior leaders to be visible within an organisation. You can’t walk around the office reassuring all of your staff, but you can make sure that you are frequently reminding them that they are important, and you are there for them. Make sure your communications address the fears of your employees, be as optimistic as you can and write everything with an even higher degree of empathy than usual. Trust between employer and employee means a lot at the moment – give your staff every opportunity to believe in you, and that will help their engagement.
For most of us, our daily lives and jobs have changed – even if it’s just slightly. Many of us will be trying to solve different problems for our customers than we were a few weeks ago. But it’s at times like these that we can start to find new skills and experiences that employees can be encouraged to use.
Invest in Wellbeing
It’s my strong belief that those organisations that had already invested in employee wellbeing that are, in some ways, coping better during this pandemic than those that didn’t. These organisations already had ways to support their employees in the short- and long-term, and had the right tools, procedures and policies in place for staff to get the support they need.
Benefit platforms can become a central repository for wellbeing support and resources quite easily. Giving employees somewhere to go to build their health literacy, ask for help or read about what support their benefits scheme can offer, means even when working from home, all employees are only a click away from getting the help they need.
Commit to Learning
Providing employees with an opportunity to feel like they are moving forwards is really important at times of crisis. Additional opportunities to train or learn new skills can be a powerful way to push engagement at work.
Times like these often spark introspection in employees, and the additional home and family time employees now have could be letting them reflect on what is going to be important to them when work returns to normal. Offering employees the chance to take online courses, learn new skills and teach each other can help to stimulate their minds and enhance their commitment to the organisation.
It’s never been more important for employers to be regularly checking in on their staff. Although no replacement for actual conversations, surveys can make sure employees feel heard and have a voice. Now isn’t the time to ditch your regular survey, but make sure you pay attention to what is going on and ask questions related to the current crisis, what employees are worried about, and what help they might need from you.
Employees know what is going on and they’re already anxious about it. Don’t let this crisis go by without giving them the opportunity to ask honest questions. Giving employees an outlet to voice their concerns will help them battle their anxiety.
Recognise the Small Things
Recognition arguably means more during difficult times. Highlighting those who have adapted, made sacrifices and shown extra effort will provide a huge morale boost to the individual and the wider team. At a time when it feels like there isn’t much to celebrate, encouraging your staff to thank and appreciate each other will help them to stay connected to one another and to you.
A New Hope
When they studied times of crisis like the Great Depression, World War II, 9/11 and the 2008 financial crash, Gallup found that there are four universal needs employees will want from their employer; Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope. The perceived support your staff feel from you at this time will stay with them for years. In times of crisis, people turn to leaders to give them hope that this pain is only temporary, and they turn to each other for moral support. Making sure you facilitate these two things as much as you can is the best way to maintain high engagement at a time when we all need it most.
For the latest information from Benefex about our activity during the coronavirus pandemic, take a look at our Covid-19 help page.
Gethin is an award-winning psychologist who has been helping some of the world’s largest organisations to improve their employee experience and wellbeing for more than two decades. The last 11 years have been spent working as part of the senior leadership team at Benefex where Gethin leads thought leadership as Chief Innovation Officer.
As a frequent writer and speaker on employee experience and employee wellbeing, Gethin has been featured in Forbes, The Guardian, The Sun, The Huffington Post and The Financial Times as well as all major HR, Reward and Pensions publications. Gethin has been listed as one of the world’s top 101 Global Employee Experience Influencers for the last two years running, is listed on the Employee Engagement Powerlist, is one of LinkedIn’s top global contributors and an Inspiring Leader 2021. Gethin is also a regular keynote speaker, ex-Chair of Wellbeing at the UK Government-backed Engage for Success and a Fellow at the RSA.
In 2018, Gethin published his first book - the HR bestseller ‘A World of Good: Lessons From Around the World in Improving the Employee Experience’, which has gone on to inspire HR and Reward teams at some of the world’s best known brands. In early 2022, Gethin co-authored his second book ‘Das Menschliche Büro - The Human(e) Office’ a collaboration between leading academics and workplace professionals from across Europe. In October 2022, Gethin published his “third” book ‘A Work In Progress: Unlocking Wellbeing to Create More Sustainable and Resilient Organisations’ which also became an immediate bestseller.