We’re seeing more and more examples of leaders keeping teams engaged by adjusting their style to the circumstances we’re all facing today, especially as more local governments impose lockdowns and restrictions due to spikes in Covid-19 cases. 

Staying connected – personally 

In this example from Forbes, one leader takes the daily standup a step further, using that time for his team to catch up personally – no work talk allowed. It’s easy to overlook the important social aspect work provides us and creating space in the day for people to just catch up – as this leader has – is important to keep people connected while working remotely.

“My team I have daily standups, 15min, optional, no work talk. We check in on: how are we doing? How are we feeling? What’s going on with you? How is the pandemic impacting you? I expected high attendance that would drop off when I started it, but it’s stayed consistent. One of my employees said the stand-ups ‘made her feel like she still worked at the company as opposed to being isolated and alone.'” – Todd Davis, Global Talent Executive at IBM

“Flipped” meetings – this is genius 

We were struck by the genius idea offered by Melanie Turek of Frost & Sullivan (@MelanieTurek) in an article she penned recently for Dynamic Signal in which she suggests taking a page from educators, who are striving to keep children focused and present during virtual learning sessions, called the “flipped classroom” model. 

In a flipped classroom, teachers and professors record lectures and make them available to students to watch at their convenience; they then use synchronous class time (whether it’s in person or online) to discuss the material, pose and answer questions and run through problems and concerns. 

Melanie’s recommendation: “Consider taking a similar approach to team, department and company meetings. Record them in advance, and make them available to employees for online viewing for a week or two; then, offer a place where employees can ask questions related to the announcement—and use them to create an FAQ. Finally, hold small-group meetings in real-time (again, either in person or online) to hold discussions about the topic at hand.”

Additionally, she emphasizes the importance of allowing employees the opportunity to provide feedback. 

“If executives and managers want to really engage with their people, they should always offer a way for employees to ask questions—then post (honest) answers for all to see.”

Channeling pandemic-related stress into positive outcomes 

An article from Science Daily titled “Pandemic-related stress leads to less employee engagement,” details how the actions and behaviors of leaders can reduce employees’ pandemic-related stress, and even channel that energy into positive outcomes for the community. 

According to the article, “the pandemic has led some people more than others to ponder their own mortality. A new study in China and the United States suggests that these people were the ones who showed the highest levels of stress and the least engagement at work. But the research also uncovered a bright spot: The right kind of boss helped reduce stress and increase engagement in their workers who were anxious about COVID-19.” 

“Business leaders who are attentive to employees’ emotional needs and unite them behind a common purpose made a positive difference and helped workers stay engaged at work and contribute to their communities.”