It is important to appreciate that every employee is worrying about their personal situation and what the future will hold. For example: Who can look after their children if schools close? Will their job be around? How will they buy food/essentials when there is panic buying?
To support your staff it is a time to be truly flexible with work arrangements and provide the means to continue being as effective as possible given the circumstances.
For all the jobs that require physical labour or face to face contact (e.g. service, retail, construction industries), providing clarity on work expectations is essential. The clearer the information on what to do and the changes employees are allowed to make, the less confusion in the workplace.
So how can you keep staff motivated when there is so much uncertainty for the coming weeks?
It is important to accept that there are things you can control and other things you can’t. The external environmental factors are not controllable and how they will affect people’s mindset will vary. There is global widespread fear and you shouldn’t pretend this doesn’t exist or that your business circumstances are the same.
Set realistic goals of what is achievable for your business over the next few months, define the delivery, and have processes/policies in place that enable your staff to work as flexibly as possible.
Giving employees options to help with their personal life will keep them engaged with their work.
Set-up more virtual environments to keep team meetings flowing and communication open.
This means allowing people to also just be able to have just social chats and ‘downtime’, as this will help continue with the relationship building and bonding that is essential for any team.
How can you encourage positivity?
Be honest and open about what is going on, but don’t react to unknowns. Deal with what you have in front of you by setting short term goals.
Change and adapt quickly, don’t keep doing the same thing hoping things will change.
Clearly and consistently communicate to the business any changes in the strategic plans and what opportunities there might be.
COVID 19 is going to be around for some time yet and the lagging effects on the economy will be felt for a long time to come.