Employees first, customers next – this adage has always been important, and more so during the Covid-19 pandemic.
When margins are wafer-thin, business continuity is under threat, and workplaces are getting increasingly disrupted, things are not easy for any company to manage. Even at the best of times, higher productivity and focus are aspirational goals. So, how should an organization make its employees feel the extra love and care during such testing times?
From an employee’s perspective, the current situation has multiple levels of uncertainty and stress. Job security is at risk, and unemployment rates are skyrocketing. Political leadership is ambiguous, and well-being is taking a major hit. Under such circumstances, expecting employees to react positively to conversations around productivity and ‘focus’ is likely to produce the reverse effect.
Hence, for companies already grappling with the specter of Covid-19, driving better employee performance can seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, the current pandemic is also an opportunity to rethink the way we work. As leaders, we need to reimagine the current norms of work to ensure that we create opportunities for employees to bring their best selves to work every single day.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts safety and well-being as the first priority. Right now, safety and security are under constant attack, so an important question to ask is how to quell these fears and provide stability to your people?
Check-in with your employees on what their fears are and what they need to feel more comfortable. Showing genuine concern for employees goes a long way in building much-needed trust and confidence.
Provide the basic needs and infrastructure in terms of technology, resources, and communication channels for employees to work safely and effectively.
Connect with employees to have more conversations about them rather than top lines and bottom lines, or the business ‘outlook’.
Use platforms to enable two-way communication and create a culture of interconnectedness.
Celebrate small wins and milestones and let employees feel good about their contributions.
Encourage family time and that yelling kids or barking dogs are not to be apologized for. Thank employees for sharing their personal spaces at work and balancing their personal needs and professional commitments.
Have regular coaching connects with team members, and ensure that remote work does not feel impersonal. Video and other tech tools can support team camaraderie and bonding.
Share updates and business decisions at the earliest and seek reactions from employees. Create a shared vision of success.
After creating a solid platform by enabling and engaging employees, provide them with a ‘call to action’ and deliver the best possible results that they can. Nurture a sense of pride in how each individual contributes to their own family, the organization, and the nation as a whole.
Encourage workplace humor for employees to share happy moments.
Redesign rewards and recognition programs around collaboration and teamwork rather than individual brilliance.
The burden is on employers to unlock exceptional performance by engaging and inspiring employees, instead of merely demanding more working hours and meeting unrealistic deadlines. Through better enablement and letting employees know how vital their contributions are, organizations can let employees challenge newer frontiers of performance and allow them to rediscover the joy inherent in quality work.
And once the pandemic situation is resolved, this constant recognition and inspiration of teams should surely become the new normal.