There is no doubt that engaged and committed employees are essential to your company’s success. Most business leaders today understand a culture of motivation and participation leads to improved customer loyalty, increased profitability, and better overall results. According Gallup data, highly engaged business units are able to achieve a 17% increase in profits and a 41% reduction in absenteeism.
But, during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping your employees engaged and connected is more challenging than ever. Much of your staff is working remotely, connecting via digital channels from around the country or around the world. Survey results collected from more than 2,200 human resource professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) detail just how difficult the current working environment is:
- 71% of employers say they are struggling to adapt to remote working arrangements
- 65% indicate that maintaining employee morale has been a challenge
- Nearly 35% say that their company’s culture and employee productivity is suffering
At DHL, we are in the business of connecting with customers worldwide, in 220 countries and territories. But that means we are also in the business of connecting with employees – more than 6,000 here at DHL Express in the U.S. — who are doing a wide variety of jobs from all these locations. Many DHL team members work at our service centers within the pickup and delivery operation; others at airport gateways or offices. And now, many work from home. Our experience, both before and during the COVID-19 crises, suggests that your organization can take some key steps to support and inspire your employees at this difficult time:
Elevate Your Communication
With so many employees working remotely, communication is taking on new forms – and new meaning. Face-to-face interaction through Zoom, Skype and other videoconferencing platforms is essential to keeping your employees connected with team members and your company’s overall mission. Rather than reading an email or speaking on the phone, seeing a familiar face makes all the difference. Your business should rely on video conferencing for internal communication as much as possible.
But to really engage your staff, one thing must be done. Check in directly, one-one-one, on a regular basis, with each team member (or set up a system for their manager to check in). It is crucial that your employees feel appreciated and valued, especially at a time when anxiety levels are high due to the pandemic.
At DHL, we have found that regular messages of encouragement and support, along with consistent and transparent communication about our business and our stated goals, help our employees feel empowered and involved.
Establish Fun Ways to Connect
For most of us, casual office conversations or enjoyable colleague luncheons are in the past – for now. But those social workplace events kept employees interested and enthusiastic about their work. Today, companies are finding alternate ways to replace these important moments with virtual coffee or happy hours, online contests, and other digital get-togethers. Your organization should adopt this approach as part of your strategy.
Prioritize Recognition and Rewards
In one survey, 40% of U.S. employees said they would devote more energy to their work if they were recognized more often. Gallup research also shows a direct link between reward programs and productivity. Now, with employees working virtually during the pandemic, recognition is even more imperative. You want your employees to feel inspired and take ownership of their work — to take that one extra step towards your joint success.
Making your recognition program digital and delivering it to all employee locations is key. At DHL, we launched a virtual Employee Appreciation Week in June that replaced our annual in-person events. Each day featured a different online event with interactive sessions and classes. We also launched a microsite allowing every employee to learn more and get involved. At the same time, we continued our Employee of the Quarter program which recognized an outstanding team member and streamed their accomplishments companywide.
Reimagine Community Involvement
Business-sponsored volunteer programs strengthen teams, while sending a message to your employees that your company is united and committed to the greater good. During COVID-19, your organization can find new ways to support important causes and get employees involved. Start by exploring online volunteer programs and by surveying employees about their vision for your company’s community involvement.
Without a dedicated and inspired workforce, your organization’s recipe for success might not work. During the pandemic, with so many challenges facing your operations, a solid employee engagement and recognition strategy should not be an afterthought. It should be a priority.
What is your company doing to motivate and connect your teams? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.