There’s been a lot of discussion about how to interact with customers during this uncertain time, but another topic calls for some serious conversation: how do brands engage with their employees?
Just like customers, employees are facing a lot of uncertainty right now, and that uncertainty can translate into feeling stressed or, worse, feeling ignored. Because employees are so essential to organizations’ success—especially during these unprecedented times—brands need to be sure that considering their employees is not simply an afterthought, but an intentional, empathetic effort. Here are four key ways that brands can help their employees feel cared for and engaged during this pandemic:
Key #1: Listen To Them
This is a foundational principle for the best of times, but it’s especially vital right now. Whether it’s a fear of getting sick or wondering if they’ll still have a job next month, many employees are experiencing existential stress over the pandemic and its resulting policies. Brands may not be able to resolve all of the issues causing this anxiety, but they can make employees feel cared for and listened to.
Listening to employees’ ideas and being sensitive to their concerns makes a world of difference for those employees’ sense of connection to their brands. Organizations should thus stress open-door policies now more than ever. Encourage employees to ask questions, chat with managers, and to share their ideas about how to navigate these uncharted waters.
Making employees feel cared for helps a brand’s customer experience (CX) as well. The more a brand cares about its employees, the more passionate they’ll be about their work. The more passionate they are, the better brand advocates they’ll be, which makes an organization better off when interacting with customers.
Key #2: Provide Tools & Resources
In addition to extending empathy, organizations can further engage with employees by giving them the tools they need to do their jobs during this pandemic. This goes beyond providing remote access to G Suite—companies need to do their best to help employees cope with the new realities brought about by the coronavirus.
Specifically, organizations should strive to offer flexible hours and whatever anti-Covid measures (be that more versatile procedures or updated health policies) they can. This is no small task, but let’s face it: the reality of work has changed. If brands want their employees to feel cared for, they need to accept and work with that reality however they can.
Key #3: Provide Flexibility
What does it mean for an organization to be more flexible right now? Well, in addition to striving to provide more versatile scheduling, organizations should be mindful of the challenges working remotely can bring. Suddenly, many employees’ new coworkers are pets, spouses, and children, and this simple fact brings up a few challenges that brands should be prepared to face.
For starters, companies need to remember that some employees may have to switch up childcare now that everyone’s kids are home from school. This means that some employees may have to occasionally divert time and attention to their children, which is another unavoidable reality of the current crisis.
Organizations also need to think about how remote work impacts communication and connectivity. Many employees feel disconnected when they have to work from home for extended periods of time, so it pays to be flexible with communication, too. To address this, think about sponsoring virtual happy hours or simply starting out any calls by making sure to ask how employees’ personal lives are going. Fostering inter-organizational communication between remote workers can help all employees feel connected to each other and to their company, which, as we already mentioned, makes them feel more impassioned about their work.
Key #4: Keep Things “Normal” Wherever Possible
The coronavirus outbreak has made workplace change inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that brands should throw all of their conventions out the window. Yes, the pandemic is forcing a lot of changes onto brands, but organizations should still keep to the norm when they can.
The reason why it’s important to keep things “business as usual” wherever possible is because it provides a sense of normalcy, which in turn can be comforting and reassuring to employees. Workers are facing enough uncertainty from changing home, consumer, and work life—finding ways to keep some things the way they were pre-pandemic can give employees some reassurance and help them stay focused on their work.
What Comes After
How brands treat their employees during this pandemic will also determine those relationships after it passes. When the dust settles, employees will remember how their organizations treated them, which means that they’ll come back to the workplace as either brand advocates… or detractors.
Brands need to therefore connect to their employees, approach this pandemic in a meaningful way, and make everyone’s value apparent by assessing their needs and well-being.
Knowing how to engage employees during this difficult time can be a challenge, so we distilled our employee experience expertise into a new webinar, “Revealing the Power of Experience Programs in a Time of Crisis,” that you can access for free here!