The coronavirus pandemic has led to various versions of lockdowns and quarantine orders, which are now being revised during the summer due to a resurgence of cases. Many businesses still have workers who are now required to work remotely.
With everyone sheltered at home, trying to work with distractions: children, pets, noise and fear can make things more difficult for employees. These changes have led employees to have concerns about the virus, stress about keeping their jobs and many are struggling with loneliness. Employees also find it difficult to collaborate and communicate online, as well as face challenges staying focused on their job. Morale is down for many firms.
Employee morale affects a business’ success. There is so much happening outside of our control right now, which will lead to frustration, disconnection and low morale. But the lack of staff morale affects companies in more ways than expected. Overtly stressed and anxious employees result in poorer quality of work, as well as disengaged employees. At times, it can even lead to a higher turnover rate, which will be detrimental to organizations.
During these stressful and uncertain times, it is extremely important as leaders of insurance firms to address employees’ concerns and be the beacon of hope and positivity for employees. Employees want to feel that their managers listen to their needs and concerns.
This is the time when owners and managers can step up and be the leader that employees need.
The first thing to do is make sure the communication is good between all parties and always transparent. There are plenty of ways for remote workers to keep in touch with management, fellow employees and clients. It is important to always provide specific information and clear instructions. This will make virtual meetings more effective.
Next, help any employee with their immediate needs and concerns. Offer counseling or exercise classes to staff that might be suffering from anxiety or stress-related issues. If possible, set up virtual team lunches or happy hours to let people blow off steam and bond. People want to know that management is in their corner, and that everybody is in it together.
When the basics are handled, offer encouragement and recognition. Send regular email messages to the staff and reassure them that their role is essential. Employees want to know their work is meaningful. Recognize and reward good performance. Provide the remote employees a gift card or home delivery from a local restaurant for their extra diligence. Reward those acts of kindness that foster a sense of calm and understanding during these crazy times. Employees that get accolades will have a sense of obligation and act appreciative that they work for the firm.
Help clarify the employee’s priorities. The focus needs to be only on the bare essentials of the business. Where possible, managers should drop projects that are low value because they will slow the team down. Clear communication and addressing the employee’s concerns helps improve their focus and ability to complete the tasks on hand.
Be flexible and loosen some work restrictions. With schools closed and employees adjusting to working from home, be understanding, empathize and listen to employees. Do celebrate the company accomplishments and goals with public praise and consistent communication.
Now is also a good time to provide opportunities for professional and personal development. With no commuting and business slowdowns, people are finding that they have spare time. This allows for the opportunity to tackle new projects, learn new skills, and expand one’s talent stack. Businesses should make this a creative way to reward and recognize employees from afar by providing them professional development opportunities. Offer online classes to employees, so they can grow professionally and personally during a time where one might feel stagnant.
We all need a little encouragement today and to feel appreciated for what we do for others, not just at the job, but at home and in our community.
Thank and praise employees (and yourself) for what they are doing for the firm under such difficult times. Let them know that they are not alone, and things will eventually get better. Humans are social creatures. It is important that we band together and leverage the available resources we have to stay connected.
After the pandemic winds down, we will need to take stock of the significance of these changes. There’s much to be learned from this new way of life. This is an opportunity to evaluate and improve the business’ ability to support employees during a time of upheaval and isolation.
Kindness and positive encouragement shown by you as owners and to others as clients, friends and loved ones, will long be remembered. This is our chance as leaders to help those who are struggling during these desperate and lonely times.
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