In an outlook where the future looks bleak, only true leaders guide their team through the storm and come out stronger on the other side. And only the best leaders will focus on employee experience during that storm.
That leader needs to be you.
During an unprecedented crisis such as COVID-19, your leadership becomes even more valuable. With so much uncertainty, your employees will look to you now more than ever for stability.
How Can You Stabilize Employee Experience in a positive way?
Here’s how you can provide stability for employees while keeping your business operating at maximum efficiency…
1. Foster Transparent Communications
During times of crisis, transparency becomes essential. If your employees think your business is in trouble, they’ll feel anxious.
As the person in charge, you need to keep everyone in the loop. That means sending regular updates about how the business is doing, what problems you’re running into, what you’re doing to deal with them, and more.
2. Keep Communications Positive and Hopeful
Since employees will be expecting to hear from you often, make sure any communications you send out don’t make your employees feel anxious any further.
For example, if you have daily or weekly meetings, start them off by talking about successes within the company. After all, recognizing your employees’ efforts becomes even more important during times of turbulence. And those people and teams recognized will certainly appreciate being recognized, a key aspect in improving overall employee experience.
3. Offer Ways for Your Employees to Relieve Stress
Since the lines between the office and home have become blurred, it can be a smart move to provide your team with ways to relieve stress such as:
- Providing your employees with additional time off and breaks if needed.
- Setting up team virtual game nights or remote “after-office” clubs. (That said, make sure to be considerate of parents and others who may not have the same flexibility with evening get-togethers.)
- Encouraging your team to talk to each other about how they’re handling all the changes. Make it easier to share how colleagues in similar positions are managing — what’s working, what’s not.
Happy employees tend to be better at their jobs. Helping your team relieve stress shows them you care, and it can foster in-office ties.
4. Adjust Your Internal Processes to the “New Normal”
Nothing is the same as it was months ago, so the internal processes that help you deliver products/services and accomplish tasks also need to adapt to the new normal.
For example, now might not be the best time for performance reviews as few people may be thriving during the pandemic.
5. Be Empathetic and Patient with Your Team
The pandemic and near-global quarantines have had a massive impact on most people’s mental health. One of the key reasons is that a lot of employees don’t know if they’ll have a job in a month or two.
On top of being transparent about how things are going within the business, you also need to be patient with your team. Few people are performing at 100% now, so empathy is key.
Don’t simply assume you have empathy. Chat with three to five trusted people for their honest feedback and ask if they perceive a sincere effort to accommodate the team.
6. Ramp up Employee Feedback
Although you may know your industry inside and out, your team probably has insights that you might not have considered.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, encourage everyone who works for you to come forward with any feedback they might have. The best way to do that is to provide multiple channels for inbound feedback.
7. Set Up New Channels for Inbound Feedback
Some examples of the types of channels you can set up to encourage employee feedback include:
- Employee engagement surveys
- An anonymous feedback mechanism
- A business voicemail or business SMS channel set up to receive feedback
By providing multiple channels, you increase the chance employees will share concerns and also information about protocol violations.
8. Promote New Safety Protocols
If part of your team isn’t working remotely, then it’s your job to enforce security protocols.
That means giving your team all the information they need to perform their job safely without adding to their stress levels.
So don’t make it sterile and forgettable. Promote your safety protocols in a fun way that’s “on-brand” and will click with your employees.
9. Help Your Team Recalibrate Expectations
Although it’s your job to ensure that employees don’t feel anxious, you also need to be forthcoming about what the pandemic might mean for the employee experience now and in the future.
Some companies are putting off raises others are cutting hours, and more. Being transparent about what the business is going through will help your team keep their expectations in line.
Your team will have the confidence to adjust if they see a transparent management that is doing everything to keep the ship afloat. And that confidence will become a huge element in their employee experience.
10. Recognize the Small Things
Now more than ever, your employees need to know that you recognize the work and effort they’re putting in.
Without people showing up to work every day (even if it’s from their living room) your company wouldn’t survive. By fostering an environment where hard work is recognized and praised, you can help your team weather the storm.
Your Leadership Can Make the Biggest Difference
No industry is coming out of the pandemic unscathed. So how good your footing is after everything is said and done will depend on the level of stability instilled into your employee experience during these times.
By fostering transparency, encouraging employee engagement, and by being more empathetic, you can ensure that your team knows you’re on their side.
About the author
Mark Zuppe is the CEO of Yallhands, an HRIS alternative created for business leaders who value employee experience. In addition to speaking events about the “Future of Work” for Hacking HR, he has been featured on CNN and TechCrunch and led product teams to win awards from Consumer Reports and Googl