How do you maintain a team culture when you can't be in the same room as one another?
With the coronavirus outbreak making everyday norms disappear, the risk of anxiety and stress seeping into your workforce is very real. But there are some guidelines you can follow to make sure your employees feel engaged, included and important.
Whether your business has had to pause operation or your employees are able to work from home, staying in touch with your team is crucial to their – and your – mental wellbeing.
You could schedule regular catch-ups, for example. A mix of all-team calls and one-to-one chats can give you ample opportunity to let your employees feel connected and heard. However, be mindful not to overload people with meetings where there’s nothing much to talk about.
Try to be even more empathetic than usual. With so much information about the coronavirus outbreak in the media, many people may choose to avoid news and social media to maintain their mental balance. Be selective about what you reference – it can help show your team that what you say is authentic and trustworthy.
Be as honest as you can about how your organisation is being affected. Uncertainty about the future will be fuelling your employees’ stress levels, so involve them more than you normally would in those conversations.
Many of your employees’ roles likely have changed since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Whether you have asked them to solve different problems or customers are coming to them with new needs, it’s important to help them recognise the job they are doing is valid. In quieter moments, they could consider sharing their experiences for others to learn from – and you can identify new development opportunities in your team.
Give your team the opportunity to feel like they are making progress by learning new skills. With so many finding themselves with less or no work, now could be a good time to encourage training and development. It would show you’re thinking beyond the current crisis and that your employees will have a role to play.
Offer gentle encouragement rather than mandating training. Many organisations have made the mistake of assuming people now have more time on their hands, forgetting about the family, childcare and home-schooling commitments many have.
RECOGNISING THE SMALL THINGS
It might seem like there isn’t much to celebrate at times like these. That’s why highlighting the small wins will mean so much to your employees. Regularly showing your appreciation for sacrifices, new ways of working and extra effort can provide a big morale boost for your team.
The way your employees feel supported during times of crisis will have a huge impact on their perception of your organisation and your leadership. By giving reasons to be optimistic and the platform for people to support each other, you’ll increase engagement at a time when feeling involved is something we all need.
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