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The Do’s and Don’ts of Employee Engagement During COVID-19

Consider these do’s and don’ts when engaging your employees during this stressful time.

In this environment, simply keeping your business moving forward can be hard enough. Communication, processes and routines have been completely upended. But in the rush to figure out how to complete deliverables and meet deadlines remotely, be careful not to neglect the most important part of your business: your people.

We can all relate to the very real personal challenges this pandemic has presented. Whether it’s concerns about health and safety, financial anxiety, taking care of children at home, coping with social isolation or just feeling cooped up in an apartment for too long, business leaders must remember that every employee is dealing with some degree of added stress.

If you focus on taking care of your employees, the great work will follow. Consider these do’s and don’ts when it comes to engaging your employees during this time.

Do accommodate different working schedules.

Right now, people are getting work done whenever and wherever they can. Some are most productive in the mornings, but see a drop in focus toward the end of the day. Others may use mornings for family obligations and crank out emails and assignments in the evening. Let people find their own groove. 

Don’t assume everyone is in the same headspace.

People are having trouble creating separation between their work life and home life. The lines are blurred in a way we’ve never seen before. Managers should check in with employees individually on how their balance is week to week.

Do stay in touch.

With everyone stuck at home and many craving interaction, it’s good to stay connected, especially through video chat platforms – even if it’s just for fun. Try a virtual happy hour and keep up the usual cadence of meetings and check-ins that you’d have in the office. Review new work, share updates from employee resource groups and talk about pitches.

Don’t be overbearing.

Keep in touch, but balance meeting requirements. If something doesn’t absolutely need to be a meeting, be flexible and allow people to use their work time wisely so they can also take care of their home life, whether it’s caring for a loved one, homeschooling children or checking in on friends and family.

Do keep the casual conversations going.

Productivity apps and communications platforms, like Slack and Workplace, are great connectivity tools. These platforms are probably the closest companies can get to recreating the casual hallways conversations and kitchen run-ins that so many of us look forward to. In addition to standard team or project channels, play around with some fun channels, like “lunch of the day” or quarantine playlists.

Don’t neglect mental health needs.

Be a resource for your employees by providing up-to-date information on mental health symptoms and solutions. Direct your employees to places they can find additional help, like talk therapy, online support groups and daily meditations. Encourage your teams to take time off like they normally would. If being off from work feels overwhelming due to the loss of a routine, supplement with ideas: use this time to be with your family; read a book or simply relax. 

Do encourage breaks.

In addition to occasional PTO days, most people need to take breaks throughout the day to cope with the monotony of the WFH environment. Even if breaks weren’t part of the routine prior to quarantine, many employees feel recharged after a work-free lunch or walk outside. Be open and supportive of these kinds of deviations from the pre-WFH schedule.

The bottom line

We’re all facing unexpected challenges at home that will inevitably affect how and when we work. Businesses should be proactive in supporting their employees’ needs right now. It will not only help to encourage positive momentum during the pandemic, but more importantly, it will also ensure that on the other side of this crisis, your teams are stronger and more connected than ever. 

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