Engaging Employees During COVID-19
Holly Polston, CAS
Over 30 years Promotional Marketing Expertise.
One Generation Plants the Trees So the Next Can Enjoy the Shade!
Without face-to-face contact workplaces, groups, and schools stand to lose a lot in the wake of COVID-19 closures. Maybe you’re worried about productivity, which is a valid concern. But how do you keep a company culture alive when employees are isolated from each other in their respective homes? Eventually, the stay-at-home order will end, and when it does you want to make sure employees look forward to returning. Below are 5 ways to keep your employees or members engaged for the duration of the stay-at-home order.
The great thing about this list is that it’s applicable to companies (both large and small), schools, colleges/universities, nonprofits, and sororities! Build brand loyalty, motivate your crew, and minimize loss with these strategies:
1 - Morning Check-ins:
Start your workday off right with a virtual check-in each day.
A morning check-in provides the opportunity for employees to connect in a way other than email, ask questions, and get in the mindset of productivity. Keep the meetings quick - no more than 20 minutes if possible. It should be just long enough for participants to list what their plans are for the day/week, ask questions, and say hello.
It’s important to be flexible with decorum in these meetings. Some folks have children at home with another working spouse or a pet that likes to crash the meeting occasionally. These meetings only work if employees have the ability to do it on their own terms in some capacity. Otherwise, they become a tedious effort.
Some ways that larger organizations can adjust this to fit their needs might be to reduce the meeting frequency to once per week, include only department heads or leadership, or include everyone but break out into smaller groups.
2 - Keep as many elements of your existing culture as possible:
Often what employees miss the most about the in-office dynamic are the small rituals that take place each week. Do you have a company-wide Friday happy hour? A mid-week Yoga lunch? Consider which office traditions you can move virtually. If you don’t have any, brainstorm with your team on activities they would like to add to their schedules
These don’t just have to be social. Many organizations recognize member accomplishments on a weekly or monthly basis in one way or another. The important thing is to keep things light, fun, and encouraging to break up the workday.
Try this tip: Weekly company trivia! This is a simple, weekly activity that only requires an email and a Google form. Ask your team to send you photos that members have to match. Use themes such as “Whose home workspace is that?”, “Whose pet is that?”, or “Whose catchphrase is that?” It’s a funny way to get to know your co-workers or members better.
3 - Give more encouragement than usual:
Even under normal circumstances, it is often hard to feel appreciated by your boss or coworkers. Employees are left wondering if the work they do is making a difference or is valued. Opportunities for public recognition come occasionally, but likely not as frequently as employees would like.
In our new stay-at-home world, where toneless emails are the primary (or sometimes only) way of communicating, it is so easy to mistake an email intended to be a quick answer as sharp or reprimanding. Isolation and loneliness can magnify the uncertainty that employees and members feel about their status. That’s why it’s more important than ever to increase your encouragement as much as possible - both publicly and privately.
This might sound like a lot of effort, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. When your team completes projects, meets deadlines, or goes the extra mile be sure to say thank you privately and recognize that it took time and effort to accomplish the task. Consider incorporating time in the week or month when you send out an organization-wide email including updates for everyone but also recognizing a handful of people for their work.
Be understanding in your communications with your team. Many families are experiencing financial hardship or needing to home-school their kids while they work from home. Praise their personal efforts and check in on their well being.
It may take a little extra effort, but you will be rewarded with a staff/team that feels valued, seen, and motivated.
4 - Incentive with SWAG:
Let’s be honest - we all love getting stuff, and sometimes a care package of goodies can be just the right boost for staying engaged in what we’re doing. Sending your members or employees useful, fun, and creative products can accomplish many goals all at once: remind them they are cared for both in a professional and personal sense, give them new and high-quality tools for everyday use and promote brand and company loyalty.
Try this tip: Themed care boxes! Choose from one of the following themes to send to your team. Or mix and match!
1) Fun: Fill this package with cozy items like soft t-shirts, comfort snacks, and a custom water bottle.
2) Practical: This package is intended to be functional, but not necessarily just for work purposes. Choose items such as face masks, a baseball-style cap for all those walks we’re supposed to be taking, and fitness apparel.
3) Professional: This last theme is for productivity! You can send padfolios or notebooks, a custom coffee mug, and company pens.
Consider spending the budget you were planning to use on a spring company outing on promotional products. You can send them to everyone or use them as a reward for meeting goals or deadlines.
Either way, you want to make sure you’re working with a company that shares your vision and goals - both short term and long term. A company that values your mission is more likely to pair you with products that are a good fit for your budget but are also worth your time and investment. They’ll have advice on where it makes sense to spend a little more and where you can choose a more economical product. By working with this kind of company you set yourself up for a business relationship that will carry you back into normal times.
At Garment Graphics, for example, SWAG stands for “Specific Ways to Achieve Goals.” We work with companies and organizations all the time to help customize a promotion just for them. We even ship directly to the homes of your team members!
5 - Encourage feedback and ideas from employees:
All the ideas we listed above only work if your organization is on board with them. If not, you risk doing more harm than good and ending up with employees that are overwhelmed with obligations that they don’t see any point to. Well, except for the swag - that will likely go over well no matter what.
Your team likely has ideas of their own! Find a way, whether through a google form or survey, to gather their feedback on what you’re already doing and get ideas for what to do next!
Need Help ?
Garment Graphics and Promotional Products has been helping businesses and organizations of all sizes engage their employees and other stakeholders. We can help you build goodwill and appreciation that translate to productivity and loyalty from one of your biggest assets. Contact us and tell us about your situation to see how we can help!