Managing Employee Engagement and Productivity Post COVID-19
Managing Employee Engagement and Productivity Post COVID-19 – As many employees return to offices, employers should expect to notice some subtle changes in employee behaviour that may warrant focus for the early weeks back at work – particularly in light of potential restructures.
While the closedown has been stressful for employers, so also has the sudden separation from peers and adjustment to working remotely, in some cases under revised employment conditions & pay rates for your employees.
Employees are well aware of the challenges that employers face in the current uncertain environment – and they are aware of what that may mean for their future employment – creating a potentially stressful return to work environment for many.
Anxious employees are generally more distracted, make more errors and have less energy overall. This is a normal human response to increased levels of anxiety.
Here are our recommended actions for employers in the early stages to reassure and refocus employees.
Speak to your team as a group and as individuals.
While this may be a drain on your time, employees are reliant on you for their income and they need to know where they stand.
Commence restructure conversations as soon as possible, and be decisive about your actions and communications in this area.
People would rather know and make plans than not know and worry. The processes for restructure and redundancy is clear – the consultation & communication process takes a number of weeks, so it really is better to get your plan sorted, then executed. Be sure you remain compliant with all processes – the regulations around employment remain in place as pre COVID. Employers are obliged to follow a process with consultation & consideration.
Consider training & development opportunities
In considering your succession plan and skill gap map as part of your overall restructure planning, a period of reduced productivity for your business may be an excellent time to consider skill training for some employees to close skill gaps and test aptitude in new areas.
Enable input to innovation or pivot ideas
While this process needs to be carefully managed for expectations, high performing employees will relish the opportunity to contribute to pivot concepts for your business – these employees have most likely spend some time considering areas of opportunity during the close down. It will be fantastic for them to brainstorm ideas under supervision – and who knows, some of the ideas might be fabulous suggestions that you had not yet considered.
Enforce your operational and behavioural standards
All your employees have been absent for a lengthy period. Make sure your standards of behaviour including dress code & working hours are back in place immediately – this will give employees a sense of ‘normal’ that will help them click back into gear.
This will be reasonably easy to slide into the conversation as you reinforce new distancing & tracking protocols in place for the return to work safely guidelines.
Unless you have a reason to be absent from the workplace – and of course distancing protocols will be required, but make sure you are available for your team. While employers have had a hugely stressful time – don’t forget your entire team has also been stressed – and many of them will have been worried about you, your business and their employment. Allow people to chat and reconnect with you in their own time.
Managing Employee Engagement and Productivity Post COVID-19
The Difference Between Redundancy & Restructuring
Health & Safety Under Level 3 & Level 2 Alert
Communication with remote employees is a complex topic.
Communication Essentials for Remote Team Members – People are people and react in different ways to different types of communication. Choosing the right method will be key to your success in keeping your team positive and proactive if they were suddenly required to work remotely.
In recent times, many employers and employees have been required to adapt to a remote working situation without drills – and in some instances, even without much notice. This is completely different to employees choosing to work remotely!
From an employer’s point of view, in a digital world, employees can be allowed similar levels of access as they are in the office.
Some people need lots of contact, some people need clear and repeated direction and some are able to carry on and just require check-ins.
The same will apply in a remote situation, with a degree of amplification.
Those who need continued contact and reassurance will probably become somewhat anxious, while those who are happy to keep calm and carry on will need to be called in for their check-in!
The key is to keep people connected and on track – bear in mind that some will feel out of sorts, so having a Zoom Room or Hangouts open during standard office hours & rostering your managers or senior team to be present in those spaces across the day will keep most in a zone of comfort.
Some digital tools that your managers could investigate to keep their team members focused and relaxed could include:
- Morning team briefings via Zoom with follow up notes in the chatbox distributed to all.
- Shared files on Google Drive or Office 365 updated in real-time.
- Slack Channels by key sub-topic to keep the team updated – just as they would across the office. Slack integrates with Google Drive, Gmail, MS Onedrive, Outlook Calendar, Dropbox, SalesForce, Zoom, Asana & Trello – it’s a brilliant tool for managing communications across multiple topics without being overwhelming and even has an in-built App for Polls & Surveys called Polly to capture feedback and team culture.
- Voxer is a wonderful app that is super useful in situations where the use of voice is better than typing messages, but a record of the conversation is required. Voxer has the option of typing text style or via voice communication and can be used one to one, within a group conversation or a one way broadcast to all from a group manager.Vocal communication can sometimes be more effective in communicating a message than written communication, where the tone of voice helps the receiver understand the unwritten emotion or attitude – and it is of course much more time efficient for busy managers.
- Finally, enabling TeamViewer on computers may also assist where people get stuck and visual insight to what they are working on is required.
Be sure to advise people before jumping on a TeamViewer link so they can clear their screen of anything that may be confidential – and assure them that they must approve the connection before you can view their screen so they do not feel invaded.
Instituting Quiet Time Zones in each day will enable focused productivity. Zoom Rooms should show an on screen notice to ensure everyone is clear that it’s a no-fly zone until the next catch-up.
Virtual Afternoon Tea Zoom Rooms – created especially for team chats will help people feel connected by seeing everyone on screen – but you will need to invite them to speak one at a time (people can initiate private chats with any particular person in the chatbox if they wish to during these, but most tend not to be comfortable in doing so at first).
Other things that will help keep people stay in office mode will be to ensure employees maintain your required dress code – including uniform if they usually are required to wear uniform, ensure that office hours are maintained – including clear breaks, and that designated manager roles are nominated so employees know who to go to for things like technical problems and how to best reach out to that person.
By creating out of office protocols and embracing new modes of communication, you may even find a new way of managing business communications after the team has safety returned to your premises.
Finally, when ‘back to normal’ is re-established – make sure you celebrate and get feedback on everyone’s experience.
Communication Essentials for Remote Team Members