There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has substantially changed the business landscape, with most businesses now requiring employees to work from home. This shift of environment has caused many employees and managers to struggle in both adjusting and showing support.
Working from home means more distractions, fewer ways to interact physically with colleagues and supervisors, as well as more social isolation; these factors can lead to lower morale, less productivity and uncertainty. To overcome these challenges, employees need to feel supported and productive.
Therefore, employers and leaders should put into implementation an Employee Communication Plan that meets 3 critical objectives that when applied together, can have a positive impact on their whole workforce.
Objective 1: Inform – the right way
Leaders need to provide up-to-date, accurate information and internal policies with clear instructions on what to do in specific scenarios. Make this information accessible on an internal website or a PDF file that your employees can go through in their own time and process, and come back with any questions or clarifications. Huge group calls outlining information of company policy is not recommended as not everyone will be able to process and clarify their concerns or want to speak up in a public meeting.
Objective 2: Reassure – with transparency and authenticity
Leaders must be vigilant enough to recognize and address individual and departmental employee concerns and address with empathy and sensitivity their problems and fears. Understanding, authenticity and transparency are key when addressing employees and their issues and concerns. Leaders should create a trustworthy environment and encourage an open dialogue where employees feel safe to speak out.
Objective 3: Direct – consistently and with motivation
Leaders must be prepared to provide frequent motivational directions for the rest of the employees. Daily or twice daily check-ins and work distribution updates are key. Departmental meetings and support meetings are also important to make sure that support and direction are being given and followed. Senior directors should not forget leaders – who might not necessarily need continuous direction but most definitely will need motivation and support.
Look for signs that employees do not feel supported enough: Are they overworked or underworked?
With the majority of office-based companies now working from home, a turbulence in workload has been created. For example, receptionists, personal assistants and office management now have a different or no role at all. The gap of having overworked employees and underworked ones is widening, making both the overworked and the underworked feel unsupported. Therefore, leaders must find temporary solutions in better distributing the workload to everyone under these circumstances. Better work delegation makes the underworked feel appreciated while it eases the strain off the overworked so they can produce better and make them feel supported simultaneously.
Are they quiet in chats and meetings?
If an employee that was back in the office talkative and active in meetings now is not, then this is a red light that something is wrong and should be addressed as soon as possible. Working from home has its unique strains and strengths on every individual. But not addressing your employees’ reaction to the current situation could lead to many problems. Leaders (or HR where applicable) need to address all issues. Is the employee well? Is it personal? Is it related to the company policy or workflow? Communication is the key to successfully showing support and direction in each case.
Is it all work, work, work?
If your company had a strong culture of socialising before working from home, is the culture, as a whole, suffering now? Create or submit to the workforce actions and ideas for substituting the social activities that cannot be done now. Create a weekly happy hour that’s strictly social and look online for more fun ideas to keep employees feeling uplifted, a part of a team and supported.