Earlier this year something happened that none of us were prepared for – enter Covid-19.
For us, and I’m sure for many of you too, it was battle stations immediately. The adrenaline kicked in and it was full steam ahead to make changes that would help safeguard our business and our team.
As the weeks go by, it seems that the world has settled into this new temporary “normal”. The initial shock has subsided, the virus is on the decline, the majority of us are still working from home and really, we’re in limbo… waiting for the next phase of unlockdown.
It dawned on us recently that in less than two weeks time, it is the start of Q3. Before all this Covid business, quarterly planning and OKR setting had been a core part of our working rhythm – keeping us all aligned and in tune to the business priorities, driving our expansion and growth, nurturing and developing our people. It feels strange to think that we’ve spent the whole of Q2… surviving.
So here we are, in the middle of a global pandemic, living in a world full of unknowns and about to set our goals for the next quarter.
However, when thinking about our Q3 goals, it became apparent that there is one thing that is not an unknown and that’s the importance of our people. Quite simply, we work with a group of extraordinary people, providing a service, for other extraordinary people.
Before Covid struck, it was team trips to Europe, Friday drinks, lunch dates, boat parties… you get the gist! But with the world as it is and Q3 soon approaching, it felt time to revisit what employee engagement means – and so began the research…
Here’s what we’ve found out so far;
Employee Engagement: A Reminder
Employee engagement is often described in short as, the nature of the relationship between an organisation and its employees.
This was an interesting reminder. With all the socials and activities it can so easily be forgotten that employee engagement is not just a measure of how much fun people are having (although that sure is part of it too 😉 ) and that a hefty people budget is not the only route to engaged employees.
So if its a relationship we’re building, what are some of the key elements?
There’s no doubt about it, people are going to be dealing with stress and anxiety on a regular basis right now; working remotely can be lonely, the future can seem scary and people are facing challenges in their personal lives because of this virus, including losing loved ones.
Communicating regularly to our teams is one way that we can help to reduce work-related anxiety.
For us, we’ve found this works best in the form of a short weekly video update from our CEO, pre-recorded and watchable in your own time. We found the easiest way to share this was by uploading an unlisted video to youtube and passing on the shareable link. We also hold a monthly update via zoom, where the team are encouraged to ask questions in real time.
We go ahead with our updates even when there is not much to say, or perhaps the news isn’t all that positive. It’s important to us that we’re open in our communication and that the team know we’re all in this together.
Something that was really impactful for our communication style was learning to start with the why – you can watch more on that here.
We’ve found that a great way to bring people together is to create opportunities for them to share, to feel included and part of something.
Not so long ago lots of our sharing would have been centred around sharing a pint and plans for the weekend – whilst we look forward to getting back to this, we’re looking at new ways to encourage sharing.
A problem shared is a problem halved. We put together a presentation of some of our key business challenges, and created a mini-competition open to the whole team, asking them to share creative ideas and solutions to these challenges.
We’ve launched peer to peer support groups, which focus on personal development and the sharing of challenges we’re individually facing. The idea is that individuals relate to their peers and in response to a challenge share their own stories of when they experienced something similar and how they managed to overcome it. The aim here is to offer advice, but without claiming to be the authority on the matter.
We’ll also be running developmental workshops to build on soft skills, using our bank of development activities which you can access here (watch out for something new added each week).
In a moment with so many business challenges, progression and development could be overlooked – we’re going to make a concerted effort not to do that, but instead to harness it when forming our employee engagement strategy.
And finally, vulnerability.
Along with empathy, this is a key way for a leadership team to create an equal playing field, build trust and comradery.
When we don’t know the answers, we say we don’t know the answers. When we make a mistake, we hold our hands up. When we’re concerned about something, we don’t hide it from our team.
If Covid-19 has shown us anything, it’s that we’re all human. We really are all in this together and we need good people around us to make it through to the other side.