Employee engagement is a crucial element of business success. For starters, engaged employees are more productive. They are less stressed and collaborate better. Consequently, they are more likely to stay with you in the long term, and they will be much less likely to burn out.
But what happens when your business is going through a challenging time? Every business will go through natural ups and downs. When business is slow, in times of recessions, global crises, and local challenges: how do you keep your employees engaged when they are less likely to be?
Check In More Often
Establishing honest communication with your employees is important even when there is no crisis to weather. But when the going gets tough, make sure to check in with your staff more often and just ask them how they feel.
Make sure to really listen and encourage every individual to voice their concerns and fears. Do what you can to give them what they need at the time: more time off, a lessened workload, or just the opportunity to work as a team on problems they would usually be solving on their own.
Say Thank You
When it’s not business as usual, some of your employees may be worried they might be getting laid off or they might struggle to make ends meet. It’s important to make them feel valued at this time and reassure them of their job security.
Thank your staff for their contribution, even if it’s just a very small effort. Especially do it if they are consistently doing good work, so much so that you have become used to it. Take the time to express your gratitude to your star performers, who most often get forgotten as everyone expects them to keep excelling.
Set up a Competition
Playing games and solving challenges together is a great way to boost team spirit and reinforce that sense of camaraderie. You don’t have to organize more frequent team-building exercises, though: you can establish a daily company game.
Scrabble and Words With Friends are great fun and can help everyone feel more connected. The sense of competition will lift everyone’s spirits, and you can even use a word unscrambler to create your own games and make everyone laugh with inside jokes and puns.
Ensure Their Work Is Meaningful
In times of difficulty, it’s best to allow every employee the opportunity to do what they love. It will help them feel more creative and accomplished, boosting their engagement and commitment levels.
There will still be tasks no one wants to do, but do what you can to restructure the workload so that everyone is genuinely interested in their daily task list. Don’t just assume what people would like to do, and don’t make someone do what they are best at. You may discover they would like to try their hand at a completely different task.
Lower Your Expectations
It’s much more difficult to do your best and perform at a high level when the company is in trouble for whatever reason. When stress and worry start to creep in, people will naturally work a bit slower, and the quality of their work will suffer as well.
Stop holding everyone to the standards you usually do, and be much more understanding. You will be feeling the anxiety too, but don’t take it out on your team. Be as flexible as you can, give them extended deadlines, and don’t hold it against them when they aren’t able to deliver like they used to.
Prioritize Work-Life Balance
Instead of asking your staff to work extra hard and extra long, try doing the opposite. Give them more flexibility and more autonomy and promote a better work-life balance.
Limit communication to a certain time of day. If you have something to say to an employee after hours, schedule the email to be sent out in the morning, as opposed to sending it in real time. If they check it at home, you will only add pressure to what is supposed to be their time to decompress.
Let employees work from home when they need to, and don’t check in on them every hour. Trust them to get things done, and only take action if they repeatedly fail to complete their tasks on time.
Make sure to tailor your approach to each individual. Some people will dislike working from home and prefer coming into the office early so they can work in peace. Provide whatever you can to allow everyone to work when they are at their peak.
Boosting employee engagement at challenging times is a challenge in itself. However, this is when it becomes more important than ever to focus on your company culture and make sure employees feel valued and a part of the family. The more connected they feel, the sooner and easier you will weather the storm.