March 2020 has been a weird month. So much has changed in such a short space of time. When we go through a lot of change very quickly we find ourselves in a reactive mode where we’re focussed on responding to what is happening and overcoming problems. None of us are used to responding to government orders in quite the way we’ve had to during this pandemic.
The COVID-19 health crisis continues and we must all do our part to support that. However, putting Coronavirus aside for a moment, this temporary world of lock down appears to have been settled for a few weeks. We’ve overcome the immediate fast paced change and settled ourselves into this new world but it’s important we don’t forget to engage our workforce.
Engaging your workforce will be vital to getting your business through this period, regardless of the type of changes your business is facing or will face in a few months time.
Business owners want loyal employees, people who will go the extra mile, support the team and muck in when needed. These are not just personality traits. You will not get people behaving like this by chance. It requires leadership.
People will be loyal to a business that treats them well, that communicates its aims and successes. Loyalty comes from feeling appreciated. This doesn’t mean the once a year gesture but on-going appreciation. Recognition of a job well done and thank you goes a long way to building a loyal team.
If you’ve got employees currently out of the business under the furlough scheme then retaining loyalty is more important than ever. They will be at home with time to think, time to assess their life and make decisions about the future. Many people will be looking at what motivates them and what makes them happy. When they’re not forced to get out of bed for work they’ll need to find another reason to get out of bed in the morning. You should work to avoid these people making plans to leave your business, or worse set up in competition.
People are productive when they know the goal and they understand the aim. Knowing what they are trying to achieve, people are able to come up with ideas and control their own success. People are more likely to feel enthusiastic about their work and achievements when they know what they are trying to achieve and have control over achieving it.
Enthusiastic people come up with new ideas, innovating and questioning the status quo, all resulting in improved performance as an individual and for the company.
When we know the goal we are able to focus on what is required to get there. It can be easy to be distracted, procrastinate and be pulled onto non-important tasks, having a goal to focus on will avoid these distractions.
Those who are engaged feel a sense of power over their work. They feel responsible for their achievement and their role in the team. They will, therefore, feel the impact of their own absence on both their own achievement and that of the team.
Absence is an unfortunate necessity. People will get ill and will need time off work to manage that illness and recover. Absence can never be reduced to zero. However, in illness there is a decision making process over when one is too ill to work. Engaged employees will weigh this into their decision making. In addition, engaged employees will be less stressed at work because they feel in control of their success, therefore reducing both direct and indirect stress related illnesses.
At the current time this needs to be managed alongside the importance of staying away from work if showing symptoms of Coronavirus and when advised to self-isolate. This can be difficult for people who value being at work. Supporting your people through this time, both those at work and those absent will reinforce your engagement strategy.
Reduced employee turnover and improved recruitment
Engaged employees will be happier at work. They will feel a sense of achievement and consider themselves to be an integral part of the team. They will be loyal to the company. They will feel that their work matters, knowing that they can put forward their ideas and that they will be gaining their own personal achievements. These people will stay at the company longer, reducing employee turnover. Retaining employees is significantly cheaper than employing new people.
Happy, engaged employees will talk about their experience with the company. The company will be able to talk about it’s positive culture in recruitment marketing, making them an employer of choice. Even amidst this COVID-19 crisis, your Employer Brand is still essential!
Look after your people and they will look after your business
The current pandemic is a challenging time for business. Many businesses will need to change to meet the changing needs of customers. Keeping employees engaged throughout this period, understanding why goals may be changing and the direction of the business will be vital to keeping on track and successfully getting the business through this period.
Employees who are out of the business either isolating, sick or having been furloughed should not be forgotten. Keeping them engaged throughout the period, knowing what the business is doing and the role they will play on return will ensure employees are engaged on their return to the business. This may be a useful time for training as this is permitted and actively encouraged under the Government’s Guidance whilst claiming under the furlough scheme. Supporting people with learning and development is an ideal way to keep them engaged and ensuring the business has the right skills to proactively move forward.
A business with engaged employees will always be stronger. Whilst this is important in good times, it’s even more important in these more challenging times.
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Article last updated: 16 April 2020
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