Initially, the COVID-19 crisis came with a good dose of combativeness and solidarity. Now that the strict measures continue and the situation seems hopeless at times, the resilience and motivation of our employees is waning. How can we make sure that they receive the necessary support in order to stimulate, inspire and provide perspective? In what manner can we stir up the strength to look forward in ‘the new normal’?
The past few months have been characterised by a precarious situation on which communication was often complicated and unclear. We are confronted with ever-changing public regulations, directives, recommendations, colour codes, barometers and confusing presentations. There is a great hunger for clear communication that offers a sense of security. A perfect opportunity for employers to make a difference by communicating regularly and in a structured and well-considered way.
When the regulations within the organisation are not clearly defined for everybody, this creates stress and doubts. Why does my employer ignore the obligation to work from home? Do we allow visitors? What if I have close contact with colleagues due to the nature of my job? Can I come to the office in case I am being disturbed at home? Organisations that anticipate these kinds of questions and aim for a direct communication with consistent directives for the whole company, make all the difference. Take into account your target audience and ensure that everyone receives and understands the information (through intranet, a dedicated website, posters, team meetings, etc.). Make sure to provide adequate updates, especially shortly after new governmental instructions.
The impact of the corona crisis on someone’s professional career is highly unpredictable. More and stressful work – or quite the opposite: less work, with loneliness and potential wage loss as a result. The fear of contamination, or uncertainty when all contact between colleagues is abruptly interrupted… The fact that this crisis persists, weighs on everyone’s motivation. Now that corona shakes our society to its foundations, people start questioning their life: what is the future of their job? On top of that, newly recruited talent is at risk of making a false start. In a period of home working, bubbles and cancelled after work drinks, staying in touch with the company and with each other is not obvious at all. Informal or casual conversations during lunchtime reduce stress and are the ideal opportunity to vent possible frustrations. Moreover, these touchpoints throughout the organisation are essential to foster exchange of information, efficiency and ingenuity. For this reason, internal communication plays a significant role in improving the connection between and inside teams, so that they stay engaged even in these difficult times. Do not sail blind, but keep your finger on the pulse: what exactly are your employees struggling with? Frequent pulse surveys and an action plan can offer a solution.
Keeping everyone going in times of social restrictions is not self-evident. Acknowledging this is crucial. Demonstrate your appreciation in a clear way and set up sufficient feedback moments. Organise team meetings to stay on top of each other’s ins and outs, but – perhaps more importantly – (virtual) coffee breaks to create room for a smile, a tear and a generous portion of metaphorical venting. Dare to surprise: your CEO delivering a personal present at your door, why not? Showing that you care has become more important than ever. Do not start from current restrictions, but focus on what can be done – moving forward!
Keeping your employees informed and activated is one thing. A company does not only have to stay in business, it also needs to innovate, grow and develop. Going this extra mile together requires a bit more pepper and salt. Valuable ideas rarely arise from yet another online meeting in pyjamas. The lack of perspective and interesting debates is an absolute killer for creativity, inspiration and initiative. More than anything, employees want prospect for the future and the chance to take up their role in long-term projects. Too often, companies are solely focused on their daily functioning, which causes employees to lose their drive: every day feels exactly the same. Communicating with an emphasis on new initiatives, ambitions, product development and future events will help people to look ahead. This is the perfect energy boost for you and your colleagues to fully commit in 2021!