Five Things COVID-19 Has Taught Us About Employee Engagement

May 26, 2020

COVID-19 continues to be top of mind across the globe, and we are all trying to maintain a sense of normalcy while dealing with this unprecedented situation. As people fight fatigue and burnout related to the pandemic, focusing on employee engagement and internal communication is more vital than ever.  

Here are five ways that leaders can set their organizations up for successful engagement during this critical time. 

1.     Have candid, authentic conversations.

This is a challenging, uncertain time for many. However, leaders who embrace the unknown and talk about it openly will build trust with their teams. Employees don’t expect their leaders to have all the answers, but they do expect (and deserve) to be kept in the loop on key business decisions and new processes that impact them. All team members will benefit from the transparency and openness that comes with honest communication. 

2.     Keep people connected. 

To foster a collaborative environment, talking is better than typing. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that face-to-face communication is 34x more effective than email. While this research was done pre-COVID-19, it’s clear that hearing and seeing your colleagues makes a big impact on building relationships.    Leaders can encourage more personal interactions by setting an example or providing opportunities throughout the workweek for virtual socializing and connection. Holding consistent 1:1 meetings via Zoom or by phone, for example, is essential to keeping lines of communication open.  

3.     Focus on outcomes instead of protocols. 

Many have discovered remote working comes with its own benefits and challenges. Pets, children, spouses or even just managing the anxiety related to our current situation can make it difficult to be productive from home. Use this time to have conversations about what team success looks like and be willing to get creative about how to get there. For example, granting team members more autonomy over when or how they complete their works gives people increased control over their environment allowing them to accomplish their goals. 

4.     Set clear expectations for both team members and leaders.

As teams learn how to best work together remotely, it is an opportunity to set – or perhaps reset – clear and consistent communication between leaders and their teams. Team members should proactively communicate to their leaders on workload constraints, ability to take on more work, areas where they are struggling and areas where they have seen success. Leaders, in turn, should be clear about what they require from their team members and be open to collaborating if adjustments are needed. 

5.     Make a point to recognize your team.

As many people continue adapting to new developments related to pandemic, they may be losing steam. They’re not sure what an end point or “new normal” looks like, and some days blend together. Sincere thanks and gestures of appreciation, like a hand-written note, delivered treat or even a personal phone call to check in, go a long way to increasing employee morale and engagement. 


By: Erika Schrader

Erika takes her role as a client partner very seriously, and relationship-building is at the heart of her work.  Over the course of her career, Erika has garnered public relations, media relations, digital marketing and content strategy experience across multiple industries, including financial services, real estate, agriculture, manufacturing and insurance.