How to Maintain Employee Performance During COVID-19?

by Jody Ordioni

How to Maintain Employee Performance During COVID-19?

In light of the global pandemic, many companies have formulated plans and amassed operational resources to ensure the continuity of their businesses. However, these plans often leave behind their employees. They do not consider the impact of such disruptions on the employees' ability to focus.

Companies need to take into consideration the emotions of the employees, during this time, if they wish to restore productivity and increase employee engagement. Fortunately, there are certain measures that managers can take to ensure that employees do not feel any negative emotions, with regard to the company's operational structure. Creating a good employee experience would increase engagement and ensure productivity, even if employees are working remotely.

Understand Employees' Need for Support

Managers have to step up and recognize- both through conversation and observation- whether their employees are under undue stress now. To ensure that smooth conversation is possible between managers and employees, the HR division should train the former on how to best broach issues arising from the current pandemic. Alternative work models, impact on staffing, and job security are some issues that should be conveyed clearly. The guidance sessions can include training or daily reminders through email. Updates about the pandemic and how to deal with issues arising from it should be provided to managers daily.

Promote Dialogue to Create Better Understanding

Two-way dialogue with the employees is a must for managers if they wish to increase engagement. Two-way channels of communication do not simply provide perspective and knowledge to the employees, but they also help them to express any negative emotions and questions they might have. HR managers are important in establishing these two-way dialogues which help to increase the understanding between employees and their managers. These channels of communication should be used to explain the positive and negative implications of the COVID-19 outbreak to the employees.

Using Objectives to Create Clarity

By highlighting a direct connection between the performance of the employees and the achievement of company goals can boost the confidence of the team when they are working in tough conditions. It is imperative to maintain the focus, energy, and sense of purpose of the employees by dictating clear objectives and updating about changes regularly. Translating the goals of the organization to the context of the employees can provide visibility to the connection mentioned above. When employees feel that their work is contributing to the overall success of the company, it decreases their stress about job security.

Strictly Enforce Organizational Values to Ensure Proper Conduct

Psychological safety can be significantly impacted by tampering the well-being of employees in a professional set-up. Unpleasant employee experience can damage psychological safety by a whopping 35%. However, in periods of uncertainty, such as a global pandemic, employee misconduct can increase by nearly 33%, which compromises psychological safety. Managers, thus, should not only focus on creating models for behavior, but should also encourage whistleblowers to report misconduct, remind staff of the channels available to report unethical behavior, and highlight measures being undertaken to punish noncompliance.

Acknowledge the Efforts Being Made by Employees

As the pandemic has thrown everyone into a state of confusion, it is understood that employee engagement would gradually decrease. In times such as these, managers need to double down on the recognition front. Effective recognition does not only boost the morale of the employee being acknowledged, but also sets a precedence for the behavior other employees should emulate. Publicly acknowledging employees, low-cost perks and development opportunities are some ways to show recognition to the employees. If your business is facing a slowdown due to the pandemic, you can take this time to provide development opportunities to employees which are otherwise not possible. This shows that you are invested in the long-term success of your employees.

Driving Engagement Through Innovation

It is understandable that employees and managers might not want to take unnecessary risks in such uncertain times. However, it is during these times, exactly when risk-taking and innovation become even more significant for organizational success or increasing employee engagement. The High Potential employees, especially, thrive in such opportunities. The untying effects of such freedom should be utilized by employers fully to fuel innovation. Even if there are restrictions on investments in the company, managers should articulate the need to encourage incremental innovation. This can be particularly impactful if the team is facing a challenge in the department of process disruptions or business impact.

The Bottom Line

If left unattended, the negative emotions of the employees can fester and create a dent in productivity and engagement levels. They can lead to a decreased quality in work, errors being made, and would ultimately be the decisive factor in an organization's survival. However, managers can ensure that the situation does not turn dire by following the simple steps enlisted above.

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