In good times, Engagement Multiplier helps companies realize the undeniable benefits that building employee engagement routinely delivers: higher productivity, improved employee retention, and gains in profitability.

However, these are not good times – far from it. The coronavirus pandemic crisis is pitching curveballs at business leaders on a daily basis, and challenging all of us on the most human level. As we triage our businesses and evolve plans for the new normal (whatever that looks like) that “human-level” is easy to overlook, and that’s where even the best planning can falter.

Fear of losing a job is a powerful motivator, but it’s not the path to a strong, sustainable future. This is where it’s useful to think about the factors that make or break employee engagement – in good times and bad – because these are important levers business leaders can pull right now to focus and align their teams, survive this current crisis and emerge stronger than ever, ready for the rebound.

To keep your team together and connected, there are 5 key employee concerns that are top of your employees’ minds and can make or break their engagement. Why are these important right now? With the right leadership, your employees will not only carry the firm through this crisis but will emerge stronger and more agile than ever before.

Here are the important elements of employee engagement you should be paying attention to right now:

  • Clear communication from leadership
  • Concern for their wellbeing
  • A clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities
  • Access to the tools and resources they need for their jobs
  • Support from their direct managers.

Chances are pretty good most of these concerns have been directly impacted as your organization has responded to the COVID-19 crisis, especially those organizations that have abruptly adopted working from home or have dramatically changed their service models.

Let’s break down what each of these mean for both leaders and employees.

Clear communication from leadership

Without a doubt, communication is identified as a key area of improvement for the majority of companies we survey. At a moment like this, rife with uncertainty, clarity about the prospects of the business, and peoples’ future livelihoods is especially murky.

Transparency and honesty at this moment will win loyalty and commitment. Show your employees you’re doing all you can to protect the business and their jobs, and they’ll move mountains to help. However, to win their help, you must first enlist it.

Concern for their wellbeing

Wellbeing just became a much bigger subject than accommodations and in-office amenities. In addition to the availability of necessary personal protective equipment and how to make workspaces appropriately socially distant, your employees are also concerned about commuting on public transit, what to do if work reopens before schools, and stress about family health and welfare.

As you prepare your company’s plans, factoring in support for concerns such as employee mental health and addressing child care and homeschooling needs will be important. These issues are on your employee’s minds.

A clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities

A few weeks ago, everyone’s job got a lot harder, as they adapted to vastly changed working conditions and service models at the drop of a hat.

“As COVID-19 impacts every aspect of our work and life, we have seen 2 years’ worth of digital transformation in 2 months,” Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in the recent ZDNet article, What Does the New Normal Look Like Post COVID-19?

Clarity of roles and responsibilities is important to employees. If the current crisis has required your organization to make rapid changes, this could be an area where the impact on employees shows. To keep your team aligned and ensure role clarity, ensure everyone has SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound) that have been developed to cover the next 60 or 90 days, and are updated to support any changes to your business the COVID-19 situation requires. While you’re at it, ensure leadership connects with their team regularly during the period to ensure they’re on track.

Access to the tools and resources they need for their jobs

At first glance, ensuring employees have the tools and resources need to do their jobs may mean ensuring they are set up to work remotely or are able to maintain safe distancing within the workplace. And while these things are true and important, it’s also important to remember that information is also a key resource your people need.

If your business operations have been radically altered by a swift shift to working remotely, or fast pivot to another means of serving customers, current information and knowing the whats and whys behind what they’re being asked to do is the glue that will hold teams together. Clear and frequent communication from leadership, and maintaining tight culture and teamwork is crucial at this moment in time.

Support from their direct managers

Engagement Multiplier has surveyed hundreds of thousands of employees over the years, and we see recurring and common issues in the aggregate data. One such issue is a disconnect between middle management and their teams. Creating clear alignment using SMART goals, as noted above, is one tactic leaders can employ right now to bring everyone onto the same page. Another is clear communication to the company’s managers of new priorities, policies, and expectations. Time invested in communication from the top will pay rich dividends in performance and results.

How is a leader supposed to know all this?

What should leaders do right now? First and foremost, assess how your organization is faring against these five top employee concerns. If you know rapid change is impacting one team in particular, make a point of reaching out to them regarding the changes they’ve experienced, and how those changes have affected their jobs.

In short, you need to ask them. Don’t make any assumptions – while never helpful, making assumptions about employees right now could be especially problematic, given the incredible number of new variables everyone is facing.

Take the full Benchmark Assessment: for FREE

To support the business community, Engagement Multiplier is providing free access to its comprehensive Benchmark Assessment employee engagement survey. It’s fast and easy to set up and deploy and will take your employees just minutes to complete. You’ll see how your company measures up across six dimensions and will benefit from candid feedback from your teams that will help you find and capture opportunities to improve and grow the business.

Additionally, for leaders whose teams had to shift abruptly to working from home, we are also offering the specialized ‘Working from Home & Winning” survey available to you at no charge. You can access both surveys for no charge here.

(If you already have an Engagement Multiplier account, you can access both surveys from your dashboard.)

Ask. Understand. Act.

Ask, understand and act…and arm yourself with insights that will enable you to position your business to emerge stronger than ever before. Engagement Multiplier is putting purpose before profit at this moment, and in addition to access to the surveys, you’ll also get in-person support from our team. We’re in this together and we’re in your corner!

Sign up to access your free employee engagement survey.