The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected our professional lives in more ways than we ever could have imagined. From job losses to the ongoing implementation of work from home solutions – the routines, career goals and aspirations of millions have been largely disrupted. To minimise the mental health impacts of these changes, it’s never been more important to focus on the happiness of employees as they learn to adjust to this new way of working. Whether you’re managing a small-medium sized team or are heading up a large department, here are some simple strategies to help keep your employees feeling connected and engaged.
Encourage normal hours and regular breaks
When working from home it can become very easy to see professional time bleed into personal time. Having the laptop on the kitchen table or working from the couch can lead to employees not taking the necessary time out to reset and refresh. Encourage your employees to take regular breaks so they can go back to their desks feeling energised and enthusiastic about the remaining work for the day. This might mean getting some fresh air, standing in the sun, walking around the block or enjoy their lunch away from their work station.
While you might know your team has the skills to easily accomplish all the tasks ahead of them, there’s still something to be said for setting new and exciting challenges. Try to consider new goals or targets they can meet throughout the coming months. This will speak to their potential as opposed to just their performance, which opens your team members up to new opportunities, builds on their skillset and helps to establish a growth mindset.
Create meaningful connections
One of the most difficult aspects of working from home is the lack of social interaction. Many of your employees may be feeling isolated, so reminding them they’re part of a team is hugely important in keeping their motivation levels up. You can do this by facilitating regular catch-ups with your teams to discuss a range of topics that aren’t work related. If you can do this via video conferencing, even better. Social catch ups or informal chats, just like the ones typically held in the kitchen in the office, may help induce feelings of inclusion, a sense of community and boost morale among teams. The next time you’re getting ready to send an email, ask yourself whether you might be able to make a call instead, as the sound of a voice is much more effective than an email.
Say ‘no’ to micromanaging
Yes, it’s important to stay in contact with your employees, but not the point where they feel like they’re being smothered and policed every minute of the day. Encouraging a work from home environment they can feel relaxed in ,and one that encourages them to do their work without worrying someone is always looking over their shoulder, is an effective way to keep morale high while allowing them to do their best work.
Invest in their development
Just because your employees are working from home doesn’t mean they can’t continue to strive towards hitting their professional targets. Ensuring you have an ongoing dialog with your staff about their progress and milestones will help them feel connected and confident knowing someone is still invested in their professional development. This also helps to remind them there will be a future beyond COVID-19. You can also encourage your staff to take this time as an opportunity to explore a number of professional development tools and strategies that will help them grow professionally. This might include learnings on how to better use remote software, listening to podcasts or TED Talks relating to their industry, completing an online course or earning a continued education credit they can apply to their role in the future.