5 Ways to Encourage and Engage Your People Amid the Pandemic

A 'people-first' mentality is the secret ingredient for engaging your team during times of crisis.

fizkes / Shutterstock
fizkes / Shutterstock

As the economy works toward a new normal in the wake of Covid-19, companies need a confident and controlled leader to help navigate through unsteady waters. Team members rely on them to foster a sense of purpose and meaning to their work.

For insight on best practices, I reached out to five executives to uncover the ways they have been able to get their people engaged and aligned amid the pandemic.

Find confidence and comfort in your brand values

According to Ashley Morris, the CEO of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, it’s in times of crisis where leaders’ true values are shown. “In an effort to engage your team, make sure to reaffirm your commitment to the values that made your company great to begin with,” Morris adds. “That is ultimately where the trust factor and connection lie, so it’s important to communicate your commitment to that brand promise.”

Lead with a people-first mindset

Marco’s Pizza President & COO, Tony Libardi, credits a ‘People-First’ mentality as the secret ingredient for engaging your team during times of crisis. Leaning on this fundamental cultural belief, Libardi rallied the franchise system together, encouraging owners and team members to step up and support the people in their communities who have been impacted by the pandemic through hyper-local giveback initiatives by proclaiming to consumers, “You can count on Marco’s Pizza.”

Leaders of people-centric companies understand that it is their people who make their business successful. “It is as simple as prioritizing the physical and financial health of our team — franchisees, employees and consumers. Our culture is serving as our guiding light as we navigate this pandemic together — it is resulting in collaboration, innovative thinking and purposeful work,” adds Libardi.

Make face-to-face conversation a priority

The separation we feel makes for quite an adjustment to the business overall and the way we communicate with one another. For Shelly Sun, CEO and Founder of BrightStar Care, a national franchise specializing in in-home care services, it’s integral to keep face-to-face communication as part of the daily routine.

“To keep open lines of communication we started doing town hall video meetings twice a week,” said Sun. “Not only does this type of communication allow us to see our employee’s nonverbal behavior, but it also gives us a way to have authentic and empathetic communication in our current landscape. It’s important to be transparent with your team and keep them aware of how the business is doing, but also to show your appreciation for their hard work.”

Personalize your message

According to Will Bartholomew, CEO and Founder of D1 Training, the secret to engaging your team and customers amid times of uncertainty is to personalize your message.

“Every company is blasting mass information that doesn’t have a personal touch. This isn’t going to resonate with your internal team nor your customers,” Bartholomew adds. “Consistency is important but you have to customize your messages based on your audience. Let empathy guide you in crafting your message, especially in times of crisis, by focusing on the audiences’ needs rather than your own.”

Communicate through knowledge, accuracy, and timeliness

According to Ed Quinlan, president of Chem Dry–which bills itself as the largest carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise in the world–the key is to establish a set of guiding principles and patterns for communications and projects that are shared and reiterated with your employees.

“To communicate effectively, you may need to take to more than one platform – such as Facebook Groups, email updates, weekly leadership video calls, and specialized blasts with hot weekly announcements,” said Quinlan.

On top of communication, it is vital to acknowledge emotions, while driving decisions from data. “We’ve streamlined even more for efficiency, offering one place that houses status updates on projects and files on key projects, and allows us to track the impact of and movements of our business, keeping everyone in the loop on our next best step.”

Originally published in Inc.

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