Tips to Improve Employee Engagement During COVID-19 | Outback Team Building & Training
Are you looking for ways to improve employee engagement during COVID-19? This guest post from iDashboards covers the importance of employee engagement during these difficult times and detailed tips for improving it.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an individual has to the organization that they work for and its goals. A truly engaged employee goes to work for more than just a paycheck. They work hard because they believe in what they are doing and want to help their organization reach its goals.
Here’s a great video by Kevin Kruse that gives detailed examples of what employee engagement is, and isn’t.
Employee engagement has been shown to increase productivity, retention rates, and even revenue. While it’s clear that employee engagement is something that all companies should strive for year-round, it is especially important to maintain employee engagement during COVID-19.
Why is Employee Engagement so Important Right Now?
The world today brings a higher level of uncertainty for employees. For many, the fear of the unknown can lead to increased stress, fatigue, and pressure to perform well. It can also lead to a decrease in motivation, as the severity of today’s circumstances may lessen morale. Motivation may also be impacted by the fact a majority of employees are working remotely, some for the first time, and may be continuing to do so indefinitely.
Virtual connection with team members requires a different level of communication to ensure employees are staying both engaged and motivated. Having employees that are engaged allows the entire organization to seek opportunities for growth, innovation, and comradery that may otherwise be overlooked if individuals feel disconnected.
How to Improve Employee Engagement During COVID-19 and Beyond
Here are some helpful ways that explain how you can work towards maintaining and improving employee engagement at your organization — both now and always.
Establish Transparency & Trust
One of the most critical ways to build employee engagement is to first establish the foundation of trust. Throughout these challenging times, more employees are worried about how they will be impacted as it relates to their job security. They rely on their employer to provide updates on how the pandemic is affecting the business (both financially and operationally), as well as how it will continue to be affected as future actions are taken. They look for questions to be answered and answers that make the situation easier to understand. Here are a couple of ways you can build trust with your team:
One straightforward way to establish transparency and build trust is by directly providing clarity to employees of the metrics and data that define these items. Create a report or dashboard that highlights the KPIs of top focus areas relevant to your department or a specific team.
Doing so not only provides insight into overarching goals and organizational standing, but allows employees to have a sense of accountability for their individual responsibilities. A dashboard also serves as a great point of reference that can help eliminate confusion, keeps everyone on the same page, and makes it easier to keep constant communication.
Provide Constant Communication from Leadership Team
Try to get ahead of any concerns you can anticipate coming from your team. Try your best to avoid letting them get to the point of feeling concerned and creating their own (negative) narratives. You could either do this by sending out “all-office” memos or having each leadership team member address the topics during their weekly team meetings.
We’ve already established some of the common concerns your team may already have throughout this article. But, don’t just assume you know how your employees are feeling. Use weekly meetings as an opportunity to check-in with your direct reports and ask them if they have any concerns that they would like to see addressed. Discuss your employees’ concerns as a leadership team and determine whether or not you should address such concerns with all employees.
Offer Outlets to Relieve Stress
Everyone manages stress and fear in their own way; and times as unprecedented as these can make it even more challenging for people to manage their emotions and sense of unrest. The lack of socialization can make many feel isolated or distant from friends, family, and co-workers — a need that many have discovered impacts their overall well-being.
Beyond providing transparency, empathy is also critical for driving engagement with employees. Not everyone is under the same roof as they were when coming into the office, but the desire for human connection and support still remains.
Outlets for relieving stress and creating the space for active listening goes far in showing employees they are being heard and understood. Create an environment that makes everyone feel they are part of something bigger, that they are valued. In turn, they will likely become more comfortable and inspired to play an active role in an organization they are proud to be part of.
Help employees feel more included and valued by:
- Asking for employee engagement feedback and ideas during regularly-scheduled meetings
- Using tools like Office Vibe to collect feedback anonymously
- Periodically send out an Employee Engagement Survey (click the link for a free template)
It’s important for organizations to find ways to mix it up and make the most out of what technology can offer. Virtual connection doesn’t have to be limited to conversational check-ins. Get a gauge for what works for different employees and their interests, so you can tailor events that keep more people feeling engaged.
Virtual Employee Engagement Activity Ideas
As challenging as social distancing can be, engagement does not have to be as bound within the office walls as it was; use this time to learn about one another and what really makes your team successful. Be open to new ideas as you never know when a spark of innovation or a-ha moment might come. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Virtual yoga or workout classes — your team members can take turns running a class, or you can collectively join an online workout class run by a professional.
- Online Happy Hour — gather as a group using your favorite video conferencing platform and enjoy some beverages together. You could even try making fancy cocktails together.
- Cook Together Online — Most people have their favorite go-to recipe. Take turns teaching your colleagues how to cook your favorite meal.
- Quizbreaker — Are you looking for ways to make virtual team building a recurring activity? With Quizbreaker, you can deliver scheduled team building quizzes to your team’s inbox, anytime you want. Quizbreaker delivers up to 100 predeveloped icebreaker questions to your team members via email. Then, colleagues are tasked with trying to guess the correct answers in gamified quiz rounds sent out on autopilot to help teammates get to know each other better and to have fun in the process.
- Virtual Team Building Activities — It’s no surprise that this pandemic has lead to decreased employee morale for many teams. Virtual team building activities are a great way to keep employees engaged, connected, and social while social distancing.
- Outback is offering four of its most popular team building activities in a virtually-hosted format that allows remote teams to experience an in-person-style event while social distancing:
- Clue Murder Mystery: Can your group solve who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit a deadly crime?
- Team Pursuit: Play to your team’s strengths as you take on four types of challenges — mental, physical, skill, and mystery.
- Code Break: Solve puzzles, riddles, and trivia in this team building competition.
- Game Show Extravaganza: Be a part of your own game show with this activity where your team will need to tackle trivia questions spanning pop culture, geography, sports, world history, and more.
- Virtual Group Training Programs — Investing in your team’s personal development comes with a lot of benefits. You are showing your employees that you value them, want to support their growth in your organization, and are equipping them with tools to be even more effective in their role.
- Outback is currently offering all of its 20+ training & development solutions in a virtually hosted format for 50% off. Here are a few of our most popular options:
- Emotional Intelligence Training: With the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) leadership training and development program, you can develop your team’s self-awareness and social skills.
- Practical Time Management Training: Help your team minimize distractions and make the most of their time while working from home or in the office.
- Clear Communication Training: Help your team become effective communicators, and develop both verbal and written communication skills.
Are you looking for more creative ways of engaging your team virtually? Have a look at our article “ 20 Virtual Team Building Activities to Engage Remote Employees “ for some more inspiration.
Each employee has a different home lifestyle, unique to their situation, while working remote. Some are parents with children who have been home from school performing online learning. Others may be caregivers for family members who need appropriate care at this time. Employees want to know they can adequately fulfill those other needs at home while still meeting the responsibilities of their job. Technology in itself can also pose unexpected issues and delay turn-around when there is no immediate support from an at-home IT team.
Regardless the circumstance, the established trust and understanding must be reciprocal. Just as much as employees look to receive a level of security and flexibility, employers and leaders also want to know their team is maintaining a level of open and honest communication. This exchanged respect makes it easier to set universal expectations of availability, performance, time allocation, and deliverables.
The empathy and transparency outlined in the previous steps sets the tone that these expectations are set out with thoughtful consideration and optimistic intent. If an employee’s productivity does continuously become a concern, it has now provided the framework
During these uncertain times, teams are finding it important to stand with one another and look for ways they can improve as one. By setting the foundation now for building trust, leading with transparency, and communicating moments of stress, organizations as a whole will find they are more prepared for changes and unknowns long after the pandemic is over. With strength comes resilience, and an engaged team creates a strong team. Conclusion: When a company takes care of its employees (especially in uncertain/unprecedented times), the employees take care of the company.
Have you been successful in engaging your employees during COVID-19? Share your tips in the comments below!
Are You Looking for Expert Help on Engaging Your Employees During COVID-19?
For more information about how your group can take part in a virtual team building, training, or coaching solution, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.
Caroline Bracey — Content Writer & Marketing Coordinator at iDashboards
Caroline Bracey focuses on all things content for iDashboards. Beyond her passion for marketing and writing, you can find her watching sports with her family, discovering new music and places to travel, or getting outdoors and hiking.