Whatever your business does, chances are that the lockdown has caused you to push at least some of your employees towards working at home. With indefinite closures of physical retail premises and offices shut in favour of Zoom meetings and emails, the trouble many employers have is in keeping their employees engaged.
It should be a priority for every business to keep their employees engaged, motivated, and healthy whilst they work from home, and here we’ve set out how you can keep your workforce moving in the right direction even despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s wide-reaching disruption.
Life is hard when working from home. You can’t talk to colleagues in person, and messages and tasks can get lost in translation. Email is all well and good, but you absolutely must establish effective ways of working whether employees are in the office or at home.
Employees that are able communicate effectively – both with their colleagues and their employer – will be more able to understand what is expected of them. What’s more, they are less likely to feel unsupported and alone, preventing them from becoming overwhelmed even though their team members areseparated from one another.
For the very best approach to communications when working from home, ensure that there is a regular and transparent discourse between management and employees, with team meetings and all the usual feedback opportunities still taking place.
Invest in training
To the surprise of some employers, many businesses have actually seen a significant boost to productivity levels during the COVID-19 lockdown. More is getting done, and employees also have more time on their hands since they aren’t commuting or having to worry about getting from place to place.
To fill the gap, it makes sense to help employees upskill and to develop new capabilities that will benefit both them and the business they work for. From remote training sessions held by senior staff through to online courses, you could even sponsor their pursuit of degree level qualifications by taking out an affordable short term loan.
Your people are the future, and so investing in them should be a priority even during the pandemic.
Encourage employees to develop routines
It is harder for employees to maintain a work-life balance while working remotely, and there is a risk that the distinction between their personal and professional lives could become blurred.
Since workers no longer have a clear break between home and the workplace, you should encourage them to draw clear divisions that allow them to be productive, relaxed, and content in equal measure.
The answer for employers is to encourage clear routines. Helping employees to plan out their time and to create healthy working environments could make all the difference to their mental health, and helping them to work in more effective ways could certainly be of great mutual benefit.
Celebrate and reward success
It’s still important to recognise and reward hard work and success even if employees aren’t in the office. Employees that feel valued are more likely to perform better and will integrate better with their team and the wider business.
The key here is to acknowledge the achievements of your employees, and to make sure they feel valued for the hard work they’re putting in at what is undoubtedly a very difficult time for everyone. Openly congratulate individuals during team meetings, publicise good work, and incentivise solid performances just as you would if things were back to normal.
Monitor mental health concerns
The shift to working from home has taken its toll on many employees and this huge level of upheaval has made for a very stressful time indeed. From struggling to find workspaces through to dealing with childcare issues and struggling with loneliness, it’s vitally important to keep tabs on the mental health of your employees.
In a similar vein to our previous tip, make sure that employees put space between their work life and their downtime. Relaxation is an essential part of life when working from home, and if the hours run outside of the clock too often, employees could feel like their life has become all work and no play.
It may also help to appoint ‘mental health first aiders’. These are figures that employees can go to if they’re struggling or feeling overwhelmed, and it’s the release valve that could protect the mental health of everyone involved in the business. Just be careful not to appoint to many managers to the position, as mental health advocates are likely to seem more approachable if they aren’t in senior positions already.
Staying alert during the lockdown
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed working life as we know it, but that doesn’t mean you have to make peace with ongoing disruption. By adapting to the new normal and supporting employees through the transitionary period, businesses stand to benefit from happier and more engaged staff who will continue adding value for years to come.