7 ways to improve employee engagement during COVID

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus has become a global pandemic. As a result, the work-from-home, remote working environments, and other methods we are using to combat the virus may be the difference between a business continuing to thrive and a business coming to a screeching halt. While some businesses have been able to keep their workforce working seamlessly, many have been forced to re-evaluate their existing processes and adjust to new ways of doing business. For businesses that have been doing business for some time, it may be imperative to consider how to improve employee engagement during this time.

Although all of us are affected by the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to remember that each company is unique. By thinking about how your business is impacted, you can adapt your policies, improve employee morale, and ensure your company gets back to work in a relatively healthy way. Here are 7 ways to improve employee engagement during COVID. By using these common-sense tips, you will help your employees feel less anxious, give them the confidence to work and help them feel happier as they return to work.

Employee engagement is a term that describes how much employee enthusiasm and engagement in their jobs. During COVID 19, we need our employees more than ever to make sure they can get the work done. Here are the 7 ways to improve employee engagement during COVID, and what employers should do to support their workforce during this time.

Encourage Their Trust in Successful Leadership

The first step in creating a safe, inclusive environment for your employees and team members is to foster trust in leadership. Employees are more likely to be engaged when they know they can turn to the management of the company with their questions and concerns. At the very least, they are unlikely to be engaged in an environment where they feel like they can’t talk to leadership without being judged, reprimanded, or punished. These are behaviors that can create a feeling of mistrust, which in turn can lead to a lack of engagement.

Employees are more likely to be engaged during COVID 19 when they trust their leaders and feel that their leaders are on their side. Trust and shared beliefs are the foundations of a strong relationship. People are more likely to trust others during stressful times. Trust is also a key to employee engagement.

Use a Supportive Management Approach

During the COVID 19 pandemic, we all need to make sacrifices for each other. That means the safety of our staff is important, but so is making sure they have the tools they need to remain engaged and supported. To that end, create a 'virtual company culture' that's designed to encourage your staff to help each other and take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. By doing this you can all protect each other, and also make sure you continue to get the work done you need to stay in business.

Use video to show your employees how you are doing your best to adapt during COVID-19. Explain to them how they can make the best out of your current situation. Communicate what the company has done to ensure your workers are safe, what you’re doing to help them feel safe, what’s coming up next, and when they will receive their next paycheck.

Be Flexible

Employees who have access to a flexible workload, adequate sick leave, and a reliable and supportive manager will be better equipped to maintain their engagement at work these times. People are being advised to work from home if possible, but that comes with its challenges. People may feel unproductive, and the pressure of working from home can lead to isolation and loneliness.

The company should be flexible in its decision-making that will be affected by COVID-19: be flexible in scheduling and work hours based remotely. Ensure your employees have enough time for their families as well as let them maintain a healthy shift. Allow them to have a balance between personal time and work while working remotely. This will make them feel valued and in turn enhance their productivity and engagement.

Show Appreciation

During the COVID-19 crisis, companies have had to face unique obstacles like increased absenteeism, anxiety, and distrust within companies. So, for employers and employees, it is hard to function as a productive unit if they feel unappreciated or uninvolved in the work they do. One way to encourage their involvement is to show them your appreciation, regardless of how good or bad things are going, especially for those who are contributing to the success of the company during the COVID-19 recovery. Remember, employees are not robots, they need to feel appreciated in order for them to be productive.

Equip and Educate

As an employer, you can easily equip and educate your employees on ways to improve their work engagement during COVID-19. This can include ways such as using virtual spaces to communicate with coworkers. Employers can also create ways for employees to continue contributing and building their skill set such as using online learning platforms and virtual classrooms. Therefore, implement digital tools. Use a digital workplace tool (Slack, Trello, Quip, etc) to create a digital workplace to help build and maintain employee engagement in the workplace. Teach them to use a paystub maker and other online finance documents generator tools.

Ensure that your employees have the tools and resources they need to do their work remotely, provide training, guidance, and support to your employees on using these tools and resources, and provide regular communication with employees and managers, and monitor their use of these tools and resources.

Ensure Communication Channels

Today, more than ever communication is a crucial factor. Closed businesses, employees out of jobs, and many other stressful factors harm your staff working remotely. No employee can work productively in such situations. Create a channel for communication between the employees and the management.

One way to get more remote employees engaged is to use new tools that don't require them to leave their space but provide them with the opportunity to participate and contribute. In a study on COVID-19, employees were surveyed on the most helpful communication channels during the pandemic. The most helpful response came from the CEO that reported that is reaching out as much as possible, even when can’t be physically there. It is important to be transparent and to be approachable. Being responsive to employees, and providing regular updates, is essential to their understanding and support of the organization. Provide updates on the future of your company, strategies, and its goals. It will boost your employees’ engagement.

Small Things Matter

How often do you ask this question to your employees: “What can we do to make you feel better?”. However, managers get a surprise when finding out that they don’t know the answer. Ask questions about their everyday life. You may ask them a question about very ordinary things, like how do their parents feel today. Try to find out the emotional state of the employees by showing your care or thinking about quirky gifts for the celebration of various holidays.

Final Thoughts

Employee engagement is a key component of employee productivity. It refers to the extent to which an employee is motivated to complete tasks and is inspired to contribute to the organization. In a pandemic like COVID-19, with strict social distancing and travel restrictions, employee engagement is an indispensable factor to ensure that organizations are sustainable during this unprecedented time. Hope these useful tips will be helpful and contribute to your business during these tense times.

Photo: Pexel