COVID-19 has been blamed for a long list of things and has caused numerous changes in the workplace. Among the latter is the deployment of employees to remote positions.
A month before the pandemic was declared, FlexJobs reported that 4.7 million Americans were working remotely. That number is certainly much higher today. And in November of this year, Upwork predicted that 73% of all departments would not only have remote workers but added that 33% would be fully remote.
The result of COVID-19 was an exodus of many employees from offices to their homes. It was sudden, and most companies were unprepared to manage that. And because high performing teams are essential to a company’s success, HR experts agree that employee engagement between managers and their staff is extremely critical, particularly today.
Monthly meetings to wrap up the month’s activities remain important. The difference is that most, if not all employees, will now be participating virtually. Meetings are still the best way to keep staff apprised of the brand’s important priorities as well as to recognize top performers. It’s important to demonstrate this appreciation regularly.
Use a few minutes of each meeting to also learn more about staff members’ interests outside of work. Discovering this not only builds relationships but will help to better understand their motivations. The information gleaned can help plan future activities.
Motivating employees and keeping them engaged are two benefits of team-building exercises. Be sure to carve out up to 15 minutes for this. There are excellent resources in the marketplace that prepare leaders to conduct exercises as well as to process the team’s thoughts.
What’s also empowering is occasionally asking some of the tenured team members to lead some of the team-building exercises. This gives managers a well-needed respite and time to step back and observe other staff members’ reactions. It can further demonstrate the leadership potential of those conducting the exercises.
Maintain interest and excitement by observing special occasions and holidays and planning a short activity around each at the beginning of some meetings. These can range from work anniversaries to other dates like Veterans Day and St. Patrick’s Day, in addition to the standards like Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. The purpose is to be engaging and inclusive so keep diversity in mind as well. Cinco de Mayo, for example, could appeal if someone on the staff was Hispanic.
What if the department had its own tee shirts? And what if there was a contest within the department to create one? Not only could such a contest foster more engagement and bring everyone together. But having their own tee could further instill staff loyalty. Consider allowing staff to include family members to foster even more fellowship and awareness of each other.
By demonstrating interest and concern for staff members and keeping them apprised about what’s going on within the organization, managers are more likely to have a workforce that’s loyal, collaborative, informed, and motivated to succeed. In addition to these suggested group activities, the other invaluable thing managers can do is to make their staff members aware that they’re available privately to discuss any personal concerns and issues.
As Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”