As a leader, you may have ventured safety across the first hurdle of moving your teams remote: ensuring your employees have set up their tech tools, can access all their data easily, defined their processes, and permanently logged into their video conference accounts. But in addition to creating an effective work environment for remote employees, have you thought about motivating your remote workers? Are your taking any employee engagement initiatives to Keep your remote workers inspired and happy? Here are five ways leaders can promote wellness while motivating their staff during the current crisis.
Take Time to Just Listen
Sometimes, all it takes is to listen. We have enough evidence to support that leaders who actually listen to their employees inspire loyalty, boost the team’s creativity, instill a sense of job satisfaction, and generate more trust. If you have re-opened your company, walk around, interact with staff, and engage them in conversation. Get them to open up about their concerns, trepidations, and issues. Even if your team is still working from home, conduct check-ins over video or phone calls, and try to find out what’s on their mind.
In these tremulous times, your employees may be feeling the brunt of isolation, suffering the loss of a loved one, or might be worried sick for their health and financial safety. An overwhelmed parent may need to shift their hours to provide child-care during school shutdowns. A worker caring for a sick at home may need to extend remote working even if business resumes. When your staff starts confiding in you, focus on listening to what they are saying. Learnt to read between the lines and understand even what they are not being able to articulate. Even if you feel like jumping into the conversation, resist the urge to interrupt or give them advice. Practice listening more than talking and acknowledge any concerns your staff may have. Constantly seek out feedback on the organization, your leadership, and their work.
It’s important to gauge their perspectives and views, and just as vital to thank them for sharing their views and thoughts with you. The best leaders are able to receive unbiased feedback without judging anyone or feeling bitter. They ask their employees “How can I improve?” and act on the response.
When we are the in the midst of a crisis as big as this one, it is natural to want to close ranks, do whatever is possible to contain the damage and get things working normally as soon as possible. In the face of these unprecedented times, instead of anything returning to normal, it seems as though we are all adjusting to a new normal.
As your employees try to get the grip of things, they will inevitably have questions. The best thing you can do as a leader is to communicate the facts and issues consistently, quickly, and clearly. In the absence of unambiguous and open communication, staff may resort to jumping to their own conclusions and rumors will run rampant, which can be damaging to your operations.
Conduct daily or weekly in-person or remote calls with staff as appropriate. Be transparent in your communication and let them know what is happening within the organization, what changes they can expect, the problems faced the organization and what is being done to mitigate disruptions, and plans are in action. Allow time for questions. Meet one on one with those who may need additional support. As a leader, your day-to-day responsibilities may not leave room for such frequent interaction, so you can delegate this responsibility to volunteer coordinators, chaplains, or department managers. Focus on these five Cs of communication when dealing with a workforce in the face of COVID-19:
- Concerns: Determine the needs and concerns of the audience instead of making yourself or the organization the focus of the message. Address the fears and concerns of people, and deal with them directly.
- Clarity: Guesses and assumptions spring from lack of information. Don’t be vague or leave room for doubt. Disclose everything your audience needs to know. If they think you are being vague, they will automatically assume you are not letting on something,
- Control: Remain in control of what is being said, otherwise there is no stopping the flow of inaccurate information.
- Confidence: You need to assure your employees that you have their best interests at hearts. Convey with your speech and your actions, that you are doing everything within your power to support staff and to ensure quality care for your patients and their families.
- Competence: Never show weakness. Show confidence in your ability to handle the situation and convey the competence of your staff in dealing with whatever comes up.
Be Open And Available
Of all the leadership types, the servant leadership style would best suit the circumstances. In essence, a servant leader makes himself or herself available to help employees whenever it’s needed. How you treat your employees at work affects what goes on around the dinner table in their homes at night. This is why, it is more important than ever to be mindful of our choices and behaviors and own up to the responsibility for which we signed up.
Don’t breathe down the necks of employees of they miss a deadline perhaps. Instead, check in regularly with your staff, troubleshoot where you see issue, dispense out advise wherever necessary, encourage when it’s needed, address questions and concerns, and you will be better able to help your employees accomplish their short- and long-term goals. If you are in the trenches with them, they will come to respect you as an authority figure, instead of seeing you as a tyrant. Remember to be open to feedback and nurture employees’ ideas.
Last, but not the least, give your employees space to shine. Give your employees high-profile growth opportunities to position themselves as subject matter experts from time-to-time, in order to make them feel appreciated and valued, and to give them a sense of achievement. For instance, if you have a big presentation or client pitch coming up, step back and give your key players the chance to co-present. When you let your employees grow along with you, you will foster relationships that can benefit you both for a lifetime
Foster Company Culture Remotely
Don’t let your employees feel cut off from their co-workers. Working from home for a protracted period may be taking its toll on the mental health of your employees. This especially happens when your employees are kept away from their usual office culture that they have become accustomed to. In an office environment, your employees get to engage in casual conversations with their co-workers which keeps the atmosphere lively.
However, now that your employees must be working remotely, far removed from their routine life, cooped up at home, it can be hard to stay motivated. The only way to work around this is to build an informal virtual community among your employees where they can stay connected 24/7, kind of like a watercooler corner. Allow them to speak up their mind in a profound manner within this space and maintain their workplace camaraderie. This allows them to still maintain a vestige of the office culture even when confined to their homes.
Similarly, you can even hold virtual team building activities for all your remote employees. Team building activities should be a quintessential part of every employee engagement program. You can think up tasks that bring your employees together to work as a team and display their unity. Even though organizing these activities can be harder when your employees are separated by physical distances, you can still host such activities online and involve all your employees with modern collaborative tools at your disposal.
Cheer Them Up With Instant Engagement
Nothing drives employee engagement better than acknowledging the efforts of your employees and giving credit where due. However, when most of your team is working remotely, you can’t just get out of your chair and approach your employees for a pat on the back. So, under the current circumstances, the best course of action is to rely on a cloud-based employee rewards and recognition system that lets you instantly recognize employees no matter where they are and even lets your employees nominate their co-workers for various awards. This would start a culture of peer appreciation and recognition that is of vital importance under the current circumstances. Moreover, you can jinx up your employee recognition initiative by combining it up with meaningful rewards for delivering a better employee experience.