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Supporting your employees and staying connected is a challenge during the pandemic. Erin Talbot, PHR sHRBP, MBA, a member of our Client Advisory Board, explains how her team has found success in making it happen.

One of the biggest challenges facing any company right now is keeping teams engaged through “the COVID storm.” While the circumstances facing each company are different, the impact of the pandemic always circles back to your main asset—your PEOPLE.

In our company, we have built a family of individuals who have come together to build something great. We’ve created an environment where we collaborate and work elbow-to-elbow, sharing our contagious energy to get things done. But when the pandemic separated us physically, we knew we needed to find ways to maintain that same level of energy, inspiration, and passion to keep us going.  To keep our teams engaged, we’ve relied on a handful of activities that help us maintain our culture and support each other.

Here are a few ideas that have worked well for us:

Staying Connected with WhatsApp

worker-on-whatsapp

We’ve always been heavy communicators, and that’s the key to making remote situations work. One of our company's most successful practices is using WhatsApp, a tool that enables us to send text, voice, and video messages and share photos of important events. We use WhatsApp by setting up employee groups by location, function, leadership team, etc., so we can provide important team updates and stay in the loop with what’s going on in our team members’ lives.

WhatsApp has remained successful because we used it regularly before the pandemic. Still, you can begin using it anytime to help you stay connected with each other and get updates on family news such as graduations, new babies, pets, and more. We share videos, pictures, and milestones among our broader company family, which builds morale and keeps us in tune with what’s going on with each other during and outside work hours.

Inspirational Leadership

leadership-during-covidAs most of us know, engagement is about more than raw performance or productivity. It’s a team member’s willingness to go above and beyond what’s expected to deliver on the company's mission. Instead of using traditional, top-down management, our leaders focus on inspiring those around us to succeed. We do this by setting a good example, leveraging strengths rather than pointing out weaknesses, and staying focused on one core goal: give everything your best, 100% of the time.

Our organization is like a sports team. We’re a bunch of competitive, highly-committed, and driven people, and our leaders model those behaviors in virtual mode just as we did when in-person. We want every person to want to come to work every day, and our leaders inspire that feeling among our team members, even in a work-from-home environment.

Frequent Communication and Social Interaction

coworker-on-zoomWhether you’re fully remote, in a hybrid remote environment, or on-site, there are many ways to build and maintain a positive culture. Consistent and frequent communication is key, as it prevents isolation and provides opportunities to recognize members of the team for their work. Having Zoom calls for work meetings and social gatherings is great, but there are other ideas to help increase communication frequency within and between teams. Some great ideas include team contests, virtual comedians and inspirational speakers, or even a virtual escape room.

Employee Support and Empathy

The pandemic has caused a lot of people real hardship. Some have become ill or lost family members, while others have challenges with homeschooling while working, lack of social interaction, and just plain fear. It’s important to acknowledge that people are having a hard time and find ways to help.

During this challenging time, we have taken extra steps to communicate the benefits available to help our team members take care of themselves and their families. For example, we offer telemedicine, wellness newsletters with self-care suggestions, and reminders about our employee assistance program (EAP). We’re also exploring benefits rewards to help with domestic responsibilities, such as gas cards, cleaning services gift cards, and errand running services.

Like many other companies, we have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. But we have been amazed by what our teams have accomplished on the rebound. We’ve had our share of record performance months and have created new business solutions to succeed in the new digital reality. By taking care of the team members that make up our family and offering leadership to keep everyone inspired and motivated, we seek to help our employees reach their greatness, whether working in the office or at home.

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