Motivating Employees During The Transition.
The world of work has changed during the pandemic, and will probably remain so forever. Although some are returning to the office, the last year ushered in and accelerated new models of interaction that have changed the way we work for good. One aspect of work that has not changed, however, is the need to hire great staff and keep them motivated. As business opens up fully and we transition to a post-pandemic world, organizations are rethinking their recruitment and retention strategies, including how they onboard and motivate employees.
Keep Employees Engaged
Employee engagement rates fluctuated more in 2020 than any other year in the past two decades, according to Gallup. The uncertainty of the past year also caused many individuals to remain in their current roles even if they were unhappy or had been contemplating a switch.
As individuals feel a greater sense of economic stability, it’s more likely those who are feeling unfulfilled will seek out other opportunities. By reevaluating your long-term approach to employee engagement, you can create an environment that energizes employees while contributing to your agency’s success.
Here are some tried and tested tips, courtesy of Independent Agency Magazine to keep your employees happy and engaged:
1) Listen to individual needs. The past year has come with unique personal and professional challenges that individuals experienced differently. Take the time to ask employees how you can best support them, recognizing they may be navigating mental and physical health, childcare, financial concerns and more.
Would flexible hours enable them to better meet the needs of their family, while giving them the time and space to focus on work? Are there any obstacles you can remove to help increase their efficiency?
Take the time to understand the challenges your employees are going through and think of creative solutions for recurring pain points. These and similar small gestures can have a major impact on an employee’s ability to do their best work and on their job satisfaction.
2) Recreate in-office interactions. Just like making introductions for new employees, you must also be intentional about maintaining and growing remote relationships. In a physical office space, individuals have impromptu conversations in the breakroom, catch up in the hallways, or even walk together to pick up coffee or lunch. These informal interactions are important for strengthening working relationships and creating trust among teammates.
How can you recreate the benefits of physical proximity, virtually? This could mean facilitating interdepartmental networking or creating formalized programs to unite individuals who may not otherwise cross paths. You may choose to hold office hours on Zoom, inviting individuals to dial in to seek opinions on projects or brainstorm ideas. For some leaders, instant messaging and video conferencing has made them more available to their employees than they ever were behind closed office doors. Promote this accessibility and invite opportunities for impromptu conversations when time allows.
3) Commit to frequent communication. Establish frequent and transparent methods of communication to create a sense of connectivity among employees and alleviate feelings of uncertainty. This also helps individuals stay focused on organizational goals, as well as how their responsibilities directly help the organization. In addition to one-on-one meetings, hold regular team huddles and meetings to provide an open forum for questions and to provide clarity on issues.
Also encourage individuals to discuss their personal goals and share best practices or lessons learned. You can also use this time to celebrate accomplishments and wins.
4) Reevaluate your tools. Take a fresh look at the means your team uses for communications, project management, customer relationship management and more. Are these tools still meeting your team’s needs? What other options or more streamlined technology might be worth exploring?
Consider employees at all points of the technology spectrum. Some professionals may be most comfortable with email and phone calls, while more tech-savvy individuals may prefer Slack and other apps for collaboration and discussion. Involve a diverse group of employees in these conversations and solicit their opinions around how you can best accommodate day-to-day technology needs.
5) Enhanced recognition and incentives. Rethink your approach to employee recognition and incentive programs, as well as how they can be improved for the remote environment. Seek feedback from employees. What do they think is working well? What do they think is not? Are there companywide projects that could be made into contests? Engaging in friendly competition is a great way to bring employees together and help connect those who might feel isolated.
Outside of business-specific initiatives, consider creating challenges around wellness or other shared interests to boost morale. Enhanced recognition programs can help create much-needed positive energy in the virtual environment. In fact, 82% of employees are happier when their contributions are formally recognized at work, according to SurveyMonkey.
Whether you’re onboarding a new employee or seeking to energize current staff, be intentional and strategic. The programs and tactics that worked at the beginning of 2020 may not be effective anymore. And those you implemented in the pandemic’s early stages may not be getting the job done either.
By reevaluating your approach to onboarding, prioritizing open lines of communication and continually seeking feedback, you can create a virtual or flexible work environment that energizes and retains employees throughout their careers with you.