Today, millions of people around the world are working from home as cities remain under lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Remote working has been a growing trend in recent years as it helps employees focus on delivering time-bound projects with minimal distractions and has health benefits as they strike a manageable work-life balance. However, according to a recent study, 20% of remote workers feel that connecting and collaborating with colleagues is a challenge while working from dispersed locations. Further, 18% of respondents claim, they feel isolated while working remotely.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on the ability of organizations to keep their employees engaged during these times as they face stress and anxiety given the uncertainty surrounding the situation.
Organizations are evolving and introducing new engagement initiatives as also figuring ways out to measure their engagement effectiveness. From hosting virtual coffee sessions to team lunches, managers are leveraging several techniques to connect with their team members they no longer meet in-person every day.
Organizations must follow the 4C’s – Communication, Caution, Care, and Compassion, to deal with the current times.
Prioritizing communication is integral while working from home. Regular conversations with team members go a long way in picking up early signs of anxiety and make more space for taking and giving feedback during this time. Hosting regular video or audio calls, in addition to emails, is an effective way of staying connected with colleagues. It is also good to focus conversations on health and safety, while gradually trickling down to work and business. A well-connected team with two-way communication is a sign that your employee engagement initiatives are working.
Pre-empt any signs of stress and anxiety by connecting regularly with employees. Employees are experiencing a range of concerns about their wellbeing, how to cope if they fall ill or simply how they will get work done if offices close and travel is restricted. Listen to them - listening to employees during distressing times is an important signal that the company cares.
It is important to show you care. Introduce initiatives that are aimed at improving the wellbeing of employees – provide upskilling opportunities to employees via online courses and webinars, announce wellness initiatives focusing on mental health and fitness of employees, provide additional leaves for employees to use for their own care or the care of their loved ones. Such initiatives build trust and resilience among the employees helping them meet the demands of the changing environment and make organizations future-ready.
With personal and professional work lines blurring, employees are juggling new responsibilities, fears, and problems, and they need to hear their leaders that they understand, that they have the full support of their organization and everyone will get through this time together. Hence, the role of people managers becomes all the more critical to be dealing with the situation with flexibility and compassion.
What we are facing today is an unprecedented human disaster. Empathy should be the new guiding principle during these tough times. It is important to remind every employee of things that remain constant during this upheaval. Decency is even more important at this time as the world battles through these extreme circumstances. This is what is going to give us a fighting chance at faster recovery and, eventually, growth on the other side.