How do you retain your employees during a pandemic?

leaflet with writing on it saying coronavirus- stay home and save lives

The world right now is one many of us never thought we would see. It’s starting to look like one of those end-of-the-world movies, where life is completely flipped upside down. We are all trying to continue business as usual, but it’s tough.

It’s not just about focusing on the here and now, but we also need to consider how our present actions will affect business in the future. I mention this because employee retention is going to be key to a strong future for your business. Nurturing current employees and putting their wellbeing at the forefront of your strategy is essential.

Now maybe you’re thinking: ‘none of my employees would leave during such an uncertain time.’ And you might just be right. For now.

But picture this, life returns to a new-normal, offices reopen, and business starts to boom. You’re busier than usual and need everyone back on top form.  Suddenly, your employees are all running towards the nearest exit and retention drops, all because you didn’t look after them when it mattered most.

There is no magic technology that is going to keep this from happening, you’ll need to stop and think about what is important to your employees. Their needs and wellbeing are just as important as the business’ needs. Building and focusing on your company culture will be what stands between success and failure once we are all on the other side of this.

Throw away any corporate strategy you may have. To survive during this time, you’ll need to demonstrate your human side. Demonstrate empathy, be relatable and focus on well-being. Keep at the forefront of your mind that we are all going through a time where we are feeling stranded, isolated, and confused. So how can you break down these barriers?

Regular contact

Make sure that everyone is being checked in on, whether that is a quick video call in the mornings or at the end of the day to wrap up.

Make yourself available

If you do work in a larger company and are relying on managers or team-leads to communicate with their teams, open a chat in the messaging platform you’re using (Skype, Slack, Teams etc,) that encourages employees to communicate openly with you as a leader. Make it known that you are available for a call at any time with those who may be struggling or even those who want to pick up the phone and have a quick chat.

Encourage random chats

Maybe standing in the kitchen for 30 mins and having a chat about non-work-related topics would be a no-no, but during this time, it should be encouraged. Understand that your team members may be feeling isolated, so encouraging check-ins with each other is key. Many will be isolating by themselves and could miss the incidental daily interactions that being in an office provides.

Refine the way you trust

Trusting in employees will need to be slightly adapted now that everyone is working from home. When you were all in the same office you may have encouraged the team to lunch together, to help those social interactions that build togetherness. But is it still important that everyone goes at 1 o’clock when they are struggling under lockdown and would benefit from a long walk in the morning? This may be one of those things you’re ok with, but have you communicated this? Build more trust by being explicit about how you trust your team and what that looks like in a new environment.

Make sure it’s not all work

Host games, quizzes and team catch up sessions (with or without a beer or two) with teams and with the whole company too. Encourage involvement even if someone’s feeling pressure to get some work done. With the quizzes and games, offer incentive to stir up a sense of competitiveness. Money based incentives might not work anymore but offering 30 mins early finish or a Friday afternoon off might just do the trick.

Allow time to learn

Now is a great time to invest in personal growth and learning & development. Use quieter times to develop your employee’s capabilities. There are many cost-effective and free courses available online. Webinars and virtual events are a great way to learn. Meetup is a great website to find relevant and educational webinars, plus, a way to network and find out what other companies are doing.

The conclusion is this:

Be empathetic, be relatable, focus on the well being of your employees and be human. This is what will help you keep people engaged now and retained for the longer term.

All of the above strategies are being put into practice by the ISL team so if you wanted to discuss any of them further or wanted to share with us what you’re doing, get in touch. We love to chat (even if it’s about talking about your latest banana bread!)

We are all together in this.

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