Engaging your teams in challenging times

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

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We were asked to speak at a CIPD event earlier this month on employee engagement, a topic very close to our hearts and something of which we are truly passionate about. With the unimaginable turn of events recently, we were reflecting on how quickly things change but that despite this, engagement of our people is still clearly an area that employers, leaders and managers are concerned about. And now, more than ever, with our world changing so quickly, we will need to be thinking about “How we keep people engaged through such uncertainty and at a time when so many are working from home or self-isolating”?

There is a danger in the coming weeks, that many of us will be feeling stressed and under pressure and may lose sight of how people in the business are feeling. We are all impacted by what is happening, and for many people it is a worrying time on many levels. Alongside this, many employees will be working from home which will mean they are out of sight so our call to action for us all is, let’s make sure that people are not out of mind!

Here are some of our suggestions to help keep us all engaged in the coming weeks:-

Maintain personal connection - encourage open and regular communication and make time each day to speak with your team, more than once a day might also be needed – ensure that remote workers are up-to-date about new projects and company news. Agree how you all want to work together over the coming days and weeks.

Focus on goal setting – if you want to have productive employees, you must find ways to ensure people have a plan. Right now this might be just a short term plan which you review on a weekly basis. However, use time in the coming weeks to review your plans and find ways to communicate these to your teams.

Have a daily plan – as we know from the above point, people work best when they have a clear plan so help your teams who are working from home have a daily plan. Encourage them to make a plan at the end of each day which reflects their successes and their plans for the following day.

Trust and respect the team– Be clear about mutual expectations and trust your team to get on without micromanaging. We are all working in challenging times and with many having children at home, be reasonable and understanding about what is possible. Focus on results rather than activity.

Recognise achievements of your teams - showing that the business cares about people makes a big difference. Make sure you make time to encourage the team to share successes. If someone shares a key success, consider sending them a gift through the post that is very personal to them.

Support employee wellbeing – we need to consider people’s mental health and wellbeing over the coming weeks. Working from home will be very different for many people so look at ways you can support. People may be fearful of the situation, so make sure people can talk if they need to. Our article last week on how to support people working from home might be helpful here.

One to One contact – another way to ensure you support connection and wellbeing is to continue with one-to-one meetings through online or telephone. This could provide a safe place for people to share any anxieties or concerns with you about work or in general around how they are doing. This will be so important for people.

Listen – work really hard on your listening skills as it will be just as important to hear what people are not saying and reading between the lines. Not seeing people in person will mean you lose some of your ability to pick up on how people are feeling; the conversation will be different. Ask questions and check in on what you are thinking.

Consider running a short survey – understanding how engaged people are right now is very important. And in the coming weeks, identifying what you are doing to ensure people can give their best, are as productive as possible and still committed to the business, will be very important as well as highlighting any barriers or issues that are getting in the way or any gaps or areas that could be improved.

So, through the coming weeks, an employee engagement survey or just a short survey around working from home might be the best thing you could do. Not only can we do it all remotely and through video to you, if people are not as busy and you want to understand how people are feeling and how engaged people are, you can use this time to focus on engagement.

And, great news, we can still access 40% funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) for businesses through the WYCC (West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges). Employers contribute 60% of the cost of the business support. Funding is available throughout 2020.

If you are interested in accessing the funding or would like some help on how to engage your team in the current climate, just get in touch for a chat on 01904 628838 or drop us a email and we can arrange an online video chat.

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