Engaging Employees Through Times of Crisis

monalisa 4893660 640The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed business – for now and in many cases, for good. Employees who have never worked from home are now finding themselves on their own, trying to focus on their work, dealing with lots of distractions – kids, pets, and homelife temptations ranging from Netflix to laundry.

Just because “social distancing” is in place, doesn’t mean that managers should be out of touch with their people. Here are a few ways that business leaders can continue to connect with team members when they don’t have the option of in-person interaction.

Check-in and offer support. Whether you’ve had to lay off your employees or you’ve offered them the opportunity to do their work from home, the chances are good that they are stressed out. Pick up and phone and see how they’re doing. Let them know you’re there for them if they need you. Showing that you trust your employees is incredibly important right now. Share with them that you believe that they care about the company, their work, and that they want to do a good job. If you have a concern about an individual’s productivity, schedule a conversation to talk through what’s going on and how you can help.

Be transparent. No one knows when this crisis will be over and what the overall impact on business will be. Managers should share both positive and negative implications with their team members to give them a realistic picture of what’s going on. Create a safe space for your employees to share their concerns as well as their ideas for improvement.

Set objectives. Give your employees specific goals to achieve during their work-from-home period. Don’t overload them, but instead, allow them to have small successes and victories along the way. As it looks right now, people are going to be working remotely for the foreseeable future. Make sure your team can connect to the technology they need to do their job. Ensure that they have the tools to get their job done. Ask them what else they need to be productive. Do everything you can to make adjustments and minimize their frustrations.

Encourage out-of-the-box thinking. With all the disruption that’s happening in business and industry right now, this may be the ideal time to let your employees experiment with new processes, products, and technology. Don’t think that you must figure everything out by yourself; ask your employees for their ideas and suggestion to handle different situations. Even though some jobs have decreased or stopped altogether, you probably have new priorities now in place. Ask your team for input on activities and responsibilities they should be focusing on to get you through both the short term and the long run.

Acknowledge contributions. As employees reach their objectives, make sure to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts and how it’s helping the organization get through this difficult time. Be specific in your praise and let your staff know that you are paying attention to the excellent work they are doing. How you treat your employees now may determine whether they decide to stay with you once the crisis is over. A simple “thank you” goes a long way.

The Gallup organization has found that there are four universal needs that employees have of leaders. They are trust, compassion, stability, and hope. In these times, the need for these traits is stronger than ever.

One tool Gallup offers is a short pulse survey for your employees to share their feedback with you. Use these statements to poll your people, and then prioritize your ACTIONS on the areas that you score lowest. Here are the poll statements:

  1. My leadership has a clear plan of action.
  2. I feel well-prepared to do my job.
  3. My supervisor keeps me informed about what is going on.
  4. My organization cares about my wellbeing.
  5. Over the past 24 hours, how often have you been practicing social distancing?

COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on every business right now. Here’s the good news. This pandemic is forcing organizations to consider every area of their business differently than ever before. Remote working, using online platforms like Zoom and Facebook Live, and new ways of safely delivering products are just a few examples of the positive changes that have already happened. You can bet that there are many more changes on the way that will make a positive impact on our economy and in the world.

Take advantage of this opportunity to change, grow, and prepare your organization for long term success.


As Chief Appreciation Strategist at Grategy®, Award-winning speaker and author, Lisa Ryan, CSP, works with organizations to keep their top talent and best clients from becoming someone else’s. Learn more at www.LisaRyanSpeaks.com

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