Perhaps you are wondering whether this is utterly irrelevant given that you are just trying to stay afloat, pivot your business, educate or appease your children, care for relatives and/or worry about those who you are having to let go?
But neglect your staff at this moment, take your eye off what is important to them and there may well be no business to return to, however well you now manage your cash, pivot your business or restructure. Unless of course you deliver or manufacture using only robots! You need your staff to help you through this difficult period so take the time to keep them engaged and motivated.
In the UK, we are in the midst of a monumental shift in the way we work and how we operate our businesses, but COVID-19 cannot be held wholly responsible for this shift. With enormous advancements in technology, age and gender demographics driving change, the impending Brexit implications, together with the enforcement of remote working as a result of the pandemic, businesses need now, more than ever, to be creative, forward thinking and to re-imagine the future. For this you need engaged employees. Disengaged employees will simply drag you under.
Action for Engagement: Find time to think about engagement even though you are stretched thin and stressed. Put it on the Board agenda and don’t let it slip off without taking necessary actions.
According to the Human Times, based on a survey they conducted recently, more than two-thirds of employees are now working at home. Many employers and managers haven’t seen their staff face-to-face for many months and have had to, overnight, change the way they manage the performance of their teams and individuals. Both employees and managers had little time to prepare for this adjustment and that is creating a few problems.
Action for Engagement: Do a survey or poll to better understand issues, anxieties and opportunities – and don’t shy away thinking this is costly, it absolutely doesn’t have to be!
A third of respondents who completed the Human Times survey said they were worried about emotional support and wellbeing whilst working at home. When you consider the impact of an extensive lockdown; loneliness, isolation, concerns over their own or precious loved one’s health, financial worries etc…, recognising mental health and wellbeing is even more important than ever before.
Action for Engagement: Consider some online training for managers in recognising and supporting with mental health.
Managing Remote Workers
We are seeing that many staff have settled into a new routine of remote working and that is great. But have managers also settled into a new routine of managing remote workers or has management of staff been neglected when there has been so much else for us to focus on?
Action for Engagement: Staff never like it when one of their colleagues is under performing, not being managed or skiving and not being held to account or moaning endlessly and dragging everyone else down with them. So, encourage your managers to manage! It can’t be put off forever. Plus, morale across the rest of their team will be greater if the manager is seen to be doing their job!
So above we have given a few of our ideas for good engagement, but here are three more if you want to create and manage a positive and highly motivated remote workforce.
If you are not using Pulse Surveys yet it’s time to get going. Cheap, easy and an incredible source of valuable information. We’ve talked above about using a survey to understand anxieties around home working and isolation but they are just as good for finding out what is working well and eliciting ideas on all aspects of work.
Keep the questions to a minimum, make the questions relevant and constantly changing to keep up interest, send out once a month or quarter. What employee doesn’t want their voice to be heard? An engagement survey is always a win/win…unless of course you get the answers in and then nothing is heard about it ever again!!
Mental Health and Wellbeing Support
We have already suggested training your managers to recognise and manage mental wellbeing but what else can you do?
- Keep open the channels of communication so employees feel able to raise concerns or challenges.
- Regular catch ups and virtual meetings are essential. Communicate endlessly
- Make the most of any EAPs (Employee Assistance Programmes) you have in place by encouraging staff to use them
- Get the team to support the team so all the pressure for communication is not on just one set of shoulders
- Think about informal events such as virtual quiz nights, social online lunches etc so it’s not all about working hours
- Identify any who are struggling or likely to struggle and put a plan of action in place – this might include an early return to the office or workplace where that is possible or even one to one counselling if needed
Developing and Encouraging new behaviours and skill sets
If your leaders, directors, managers are feeling out of their depth with the pace of change and new challenges, then put in place some training and workshops to help them develop the skills they need to manage these remote workers. Neglect your managers and leaders at your peril.
Specific focus might need to go on … developing trust/trusting your staff, overcoming a dislike of the camera, managing outputs not inputs, having sensitive conversations online, understanding emotional responses to change, developing personal accountability, feeling more confident with tech.
And once you have developed your leaders and managers, perhaps now you can turn your attention to your staff as they too struggle with tech, trust, dealing with change, having difficult discussions when online rather than face to face etc.
So, plenty of ideas for you. Its so easy to put thinking about engagement to the bottom of the to do pile when there is so much else to think about but please be very careful not to neglect those very people who can help you turn this all around.
At Jaluch we have been supporting clients for nearly two decades and here are some of the things we have been doing in recent months – cost effective, commercial and plain speaking as always!
- Staff Surveys/touch polls (starting from just £300).
- Workplace Risk Assessments for return to work and home working.
- 1-1 Coaching for managers and staff.
- Virtual learning including Train the Virtual Trainer, Managing Mental Wellbeing, Managing and Motivating Remote Workers, Diversity and Inclusion.
- Developing bespoke eLearning and off the shelf eLearning (Unconscious Bias/cyber security).
- Supporting Restructures.
- Updating contracts in accordance with April 2020 legislative changes
And working with us is a dream … no contract required, total flexibility, transparent pricing, no overcharging or hidden costs, and we always try to pick up the telephone within 2 rings! Now that should earn us a medal in recent times, with endless companies saying they will respond to emails in 3 working days, no one answers the phone and even online chat has gone off line 😊