The coming winter months and a prolonged period of social distancing restrictions mean that maintaining employee engagement should be top of mind for HR teams right now. With instability and uncertainty from all sides (job security, health concerns, childcare, etc.) employees are facing various worries, which can interfere with their engagement at work. Employers must take action to ensure their people maintain engagement with the company, its values and their roles.
Following are five tips to help you reconnect with your team and to keep them engaged.
Reinforce the vision
Whether the team has gone fully into homeworking or split into on and off-site workers, it’s easy for them to lose sight of what they are trying to achieve and why when their team is all split up. HR can support the business by driving messages about the bigger corporate picture – why we do what we do – to remind people about why the work they are doing matters. If people can see the impact of their work on the organisation, it will help them feel more ‘connected’ with the task in hand.
Touch base regularly
The feeling of isolation and loneliness caused by social distancing is only worsened by the absence of everyday ‘normal’ interactions experienced at work. This can be demotivating to some and cause a fall in their energy and enthusiasm for work. HR can drive initiatives to encourage online colleague catch-ups, as teams and one-on-one, to see how everyone is going and to maintain social interaction.
Keep everyone involved and informed
When it comes to communication, the content is just as important as the frequency. Encourage line managers to find more opportunities to involve their teams in decision-making processes. With teams spread out, it can be challenging for people to get a sense of what’s going on in the wider organisation. This makes it difficult for people to feel enthused about their work, being solely a passive recipient of instructions. People who have been involved in discussions about the strategic direction of their team and its work are more likely to feel invested in its success.
Help teams bond
How well do your teams know each other? When teams are first formed, HR and line managers are likely to have put some effort into helping people bond, but it’s important to maintain this cohesion long term, on a more informal basis. This might seem a little challenging to do, but it’s not impossible.
HR can take the lead or encourage managers to organise online social events. An online pub quiz or team challenges for some friendly competition can help boost engagement, for example, a ‘Who can carve the best Jack O’ Lantern?’ photo challenge for Halloween. Reminding the business to make time for fun together, especially around times of festivities, can be just what teams need to re-engage.
Make progression milestones obvious
Employee career development may not be as high on your company’s priority list while having to manage the pressures of COVID-19. But recognition and continuous learning should be greatly encouraged for people working during such a stressful period. Feeling like they are at a standstill and unappreciated, even after working very hard, can lead to people thinking ‘what’s the point?’ and disengaging.
Even if promotions and salary increases aren’t currently available, your employees’ progress should still be acknowledged, and they should be made aware of how valuable their contributions are to the company. This can be done by giving them more autonomy or responsibility on projects, sharing their achievements in internal news bulletins, or by investing in their training and development.
What impacts engagement differs for every individual. Open conversations with your team are essential in checking that your people have what they need to remain engaged at work.