Face-to-face communication is extremely important for the overall feeling of togetherness and loyalty. For many, the workplace and interaction with colleagues is a big part of their identity. This is now temporarily gone. Thankfully, there are various digital tools and apps to help us deal with this current situation. The manager’s role is also essential to boost employee engagement. Please see some useful tips for communication managers and HR managers to deal with this as effectively as possible:
1. Choose your tool: there are many tools available to digitally consult with your employees, share knowledge and manage projects. At OPRG we use systems such as WebEx, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams and Trello. Of course there are many more tools and each system has its own functions and advantages. De Volkskrant (Dutch) has listed a number of excellent meeting tools.
2. Structure and be organized: send an agenda for the meeting with discussion points and points of attention. Ask people to turn on the video function as it has been shown that this makes people more involved. Think about etiquette around dress code.
3. Make (team) leaders visible: during digital meetings there is an important role for the leader. During a crisis, the leader must be visible. This means leaders must act as discussion initiators and motivators in communication. Please encourage initiatives and talk to your employees and teammates. Proactively ask if they have the right tooling or information or if they need emotional support. Finetune your tone-of-voice, in which empathy has a place. After all, this is a difficult situation in which private and business interests are (forcibly) mixed up.
4. Bet on your team managers: as middle managers, they are often very aware of what is going on and what is needed. Provide them with enough information and support to fulfill their role properly.
5. Plan frequent communication moments: especially in times when official advice develops and changes quickly, it is wise to keep a good cadence in communication about current developments with regard to your organization. Refer to advice from official bodies such as WHO or RIVM. This creates understanding. Even if you do not yet know what the consequences are, it is important to share the considerations behind choices you made at that moment. Use different communication channels for different messages. The above digital meeting channels may work for official company updates, but may not be appropriate at other times. Quick updates can be sent via a group app, while more substantive, impactful messages are better sent via email or combined with a virtual meeting.
6. Cherish informal communication: in order to compensate for the lack of face-to-face communication, it is important not to skip informal company rituals. Keep that Friday afternoon office drink event in but do it virtually. Appoint a host and come up with fun excises (e.g. prepare a Spotify team play list). With the use of webcams we get an unique glimpse into the lives of us all. This can also spark positive conversations.
Finally, don’t forget to trust your employees. During these types of crisis situations, also creativity will be sparked and unexpected entrepreneurship will blossom. Organize virtual brainstorms and facilitate a place where great ideas can be stored. Also celebrate these successes because it pays off over the long term. Therefore, keep working on employee engagement more than ever.
Photo by StockSnap from Pixabay.