Savvy business leaders know that employees who are engaged in their work and who feel supported by their employers are more likely to go the extra mile to achieve business objectives. Those same employees also typically produce higher-quality work and demonstrate greater open communication with their colleagues.
However, as the pandemic continues to reshape the workplace, we’re presented with new stressors and uncertainties, making it more difficult for some to carry on work as usual. Most employees that have made the transition to remote work, regardless of their industry, have experienced increasing levels of stress, burnout, and anxiety since the start of the pandemic.
Given this, leadership must seek new strategies to support their teams and keep them productive in their roles. While there’s no way of telling exactly what the workplace will look like post-COVID, ensuring the health and continued development of your employees should remain top priorities.
Keep Up the Momentum through Engagement
A year into the pandemic, without intentional actions to sustain and strengthen the culture in our new virtual world by leaders, many home-bound employees aren’t feeling the same motivation and level of connection and engagement that they did when they were surrounded by colleagues in the office. Not surprisingly, a disengaged workforce can lead to burnout, lower productivity, and a greater risk of turnover. However, you can still remain connected and foster the company culture you once knew, even at a distance.There begs the question, though. How? As employees learn to balance competing business and personal issues, keeping the momentum during these critical times will require you to explore ways to boost employee engagement. Ultimately your success through the pandemic hinges on leadership and their ability to foster a collaborative virtual work culture, implement new engagement strategies, and lead by example. Holding virtual team connects and company events in place of in-person meetings can help foster a sense of comradery and collaboration. You may also want to consider implementing a recognition program. High performing employees often do not realize their work is recognized – and building connections between effort, behavior or rewarding high-performing employees may also help them to see the value of their work and, in turn, work harder.
How can you support a geographically dispersed workforce?
Remote work has broadened recruitment efforts to reach new talent and given many employees the freedom to choose where they wish to live unrestricted by the location of their employer. As these arrangements become long-term and even permanent for companies, more employees are jumping at the opportunity to relocate. That’s why finding ways to effectively support employee wishes to expand geographically has become all the more important.Most companies won’t provide relocation assistance if an employee moves for personal reasons, and some may even make salary adjustments based on cost of living. However, in lieu of financial assistance, there are still several ways you can support employees who want to move. Offering relocation resources, such as travel safety guides, moving company recommendations, or information on affordable mortgage options like FHA-insured loans are all simple, yet meaningful ways to show employees you value their contributions. Serving as a supportive and caring role, providing resources and methods to save time and money, during a move can strengthen your connection to employees long-term.
Foster Belonging: Including Employees in Decision Making
Making big decisions is hard, even when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic. However, especially given uncertainty around COVID, some high-stake decisions can’t be postponed and benefit from consideration by multiple stakeholders. Though leadership might reserve some decisions for them alone, there are many benefits to involving employees in decision-making.
Involving more stakeholders in the process will not only increase company-wide transparency and create commitment and buy-in, but will also ensure that decisions are made with the entire team’s best interests in mind. Encouraging open dialogue, debate, and perspectives will ultimately help you make more informed decisions that will benefit the most people. By including employees in the decision-making process, you’ll ensure diverse viewpoints are considered, which, again, will give employees a greater sense of purpose and belonging within the organization.
Connect at an Individual Level
As long-term remote work arrangements become the new reality for many companies, it’s important to remember that your employees are adjusting to these new working conditions in unique ways. Some may have experienced financial hardships while others may still struggle to balance work with family and other personal responsibilities. Taking the time to understand each person’s unique struggles and connecting with them can show you are dedicated to their health, well-being, and continued success.
Your employees may have questions, concerns and fears, and needs that they have not yet voiced. Personalized support starts with listening, and business leaders must ensure that they feel heard. You can offer this by conducting regular pulse checks, providing a space for anonymous feedback, and encouraging employees to share their personal struggles. Doing so can help you prioritize initiatives that address your employees’ most pressing needs and better allocate your resources to make the greatest impact. Remember, a little bit of humanity can go a long way. Consistently communicating and empathizing with your team is not only essential for your business success, but it’s also just the right thing to do.
When employees feel supported, engaged, and valued, they are much more likely to produce their best work. As we approach a year since the pandemic sent our offices home, the need for more innovative support systems is greater than ever. Helping your employees through turbulent times doesn’t need to be complex. However, the effort to support and assist your employees will be greatly appreciated.