3 Things Leaders Should be Doing to Keep Staff Engaged

Many clients and friends that I have spoken to lately have commented on how this week feels different than the previous 3 weeks. As we come to the end of week 4 of self-isolation, and have learnt about the additional 4 weeks being forced upon us, the signs of virtual seclusion are beginning to creep in. The novelty of working from home has dissipated. Personal motivation is declining.  Virtual communication, that was plentiful just a week ago, has decreased dramatically and the pace of that we are used to is much lower. People, who were already feeling the effects of virtual isolation, can’t shake off the gloomy feeling the way they could last week. And those of us who were able to stay positive, hit the proverbial ‘self-isolation’ wall this week.

This work from home phenomena has, literally overnight, changed how most of us communicate, socialize, collaborate and self-identify. Here are three things leaders should be doing to help to keep staff engaged, happy and healthy.

 

  1. Regularly Scheduled Daily Team Check-ins and Weekly One-on-Ones

In a regular work environment daily team check ins might seem like micromanaging. However, in a forced virtual environment, where people were not mentally prepared for the long-term nature of the change, regularly scheduled check-ins are a must. One of the things that people miss when working virtually, is the ability to show case and/or talk about what they are working on, what they have accomplished and what is on their radar. Having a daily huddle where the team members share about their activities helps to fulfill the two psychological levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs: Love and Belonging and Esteem. These needs come directly after the basic physiological needs of Psychology and Safety are met. Physiological needs are satisfied by having a job, shelter and clothing etc. therefore leaders today should be seeking ways to appeal to the psychological needs of employees.

Weekly individual meetings are important to ensure that all staff members have the opportunity to share how they are doing and to ask for anything they might need. As author Trina Hoefling stated in our recent podcast, a virtual leader is a relationship manager and the role of virtual leaders is critical to the success of individuals and of teams that work in virtual work environments. Creating the space that individuals need and crave will deepen connection, increase trust and as a positive bi-product, will escalate motivation and productivity.

  1. Make Time and Create Space for Innovation

Motivation comes from many places and one area is through allowing the staff the time to work on innovation. If you are like most businesses, innovation, while often talked about, seldom hits the top of the corporate ‘to do’ list. So why not take advantage of this time when things are a bit slower to challenge your staff to innovate. Really take the opportunity to slow down and focus on what could be. Incorporate an innovation challenge into the work week. Set an expectation that all staff spend 20% of their time while in isolation re-valuating how things are currently being done and building out solutions to further the business.

  1. Make Fun a Priority

It may take more effort but people are craving fun. Being stuck in a home office situation can be challenging and non-work related socializing can really help. Carve out time to have fun but be sure to offer flexibility in the type of activities and the timing so that they don’t create more stress. Remember, as a leader you don’t have to do it all. Involve your staff to come up with suggestions and randomly select a weekly idea and schedule the time to make it happen. Some ideas to get you started are to host a weekly virtual mock tail party during working hours or a cocktail party after hours.  Engage in online games. Test out your abilities by participating in a game of Trivia, Taboo or Yahtzee to play over Zoom. Be creative and have fun!

With all this in mind, it is important to remember that the biggest challenge with working remotely is loneliness, which stems from a lack of connection. These ideas, though simple, are effect and a great way for leaders to appeal to the psychological needs of each employee. Let’s take advantage of this time to innovate, while at the same time having fun. And most importantly, let’s come out of this stronger than ever.