At JobHoller we hoped to be kicking off 2021 in a different way, but sadly the increase in UK Coronavirus cases has once again sent the nation back into lockdown. This lockdown is rather different to that of March 2020 however, as we all enter it far better prepared from both a personal and business perspective. We’ve shared a few insights over the last nine months around managing your employer brand and engaging your people during the pandemic, but as we kick off a new lockdown, we wanted to re-share some of the key advice as we know that this one is set to be particularly tough for a lot of people.
January can be a polarising month at the best of times, with some employees returning to work refreshed, energised and full to the brim with motivation, and others finding the cold dark weather coupled with their vows to begin a “new year resolution” can make the return less appealing. This year we are also contending with the lockdown, along with a concerning rise in cases of the virus, so it is likely even the most motivated employees will be feeling the slump this year.
As an employer you have a duty of care to your people, whether they are working on-site, from home or even on furlough leave, so we have compiled 9 simple suggestions to help you show your support to employees during the lockdown.
9 steps to show your support to employees:
Reassess work safety and environment
It goes without saying that the health and safety of your employees should be the number one priority, and with the new strain of COVID-19 being reportedly 56% more transmittable, and an estimated 1 in 50 people in the UK currently having the virus, you must be diligent with any employees who are still working on-site. Where possible you will need to ensure employees can adhere to social distancing, have plenty of access to sanitiser and hand washing facilities, required P.P.E and deep cleaning of your site every day. You may even choose to check temperatures of all employees visiting your site as an added precaution. It’s also essential that you have a clear procedure for what to do if an employee develops symptoms or tests positive for the virus too. For employees who are working from home, you should still be going out of your way to ensure they have the right environment to work safely from home. For example you may choose to supply better equipment to improve their working from home set-up such as office chairs / screens / internet access.
Clear support guides and advice for your people
Just as we mentioned having a clear policy for what to do if an on-site employee develops symptoms for the virus, you will also want to ensure you offer employees further resources and support during lockdown. You may find that the January lockdown may bring concerns for your people over physical health, finances, childcare arrangements, loneliness and mental health, so where possible ensure you point your people in the direction of the resources they need. If you have a HR system of company intranet you may want to create a resource library for different areas you feel would benefit your employees, and always ensure you encourage your people to reach out in confidence to a member of your HR / management team too.
Support working parents
We read an interesting article on Grazia.co.uk earlier this week, highlighting how parents who spent the first lockdown attempting to juggle full-time remote work and full-time childcare / home-schooling struggled to find the headspace to balance the two. You may have employees’ who experienced this in 2020, who may not have voiced their concerns at all in order to commit to a “keep calm and carry on” mantra. It is worth reaching out to any employees who are working from home whilst also home-schooling their children to ensure they have the support they need. As mentioned in the article on Grazia, you may even find extending the offer of furlough to individuals who are struggling, even if this is for one or two days a week it can make a big difference!
Reach out regularly ideally on a one-to-one
Communication is key to keeping your employees engaged and reassured during lockdown, so aim to touch base as often as you can. Depending on the size of your company you may well struggle to get a one-to-one for every employee from a Director, so consider assigning this to relevant managers and ensure that a personal interaction is encouraged at least once a fortnight. Not only is this essential to communicate important company updates and catch up on work projects etc., but it gives you a chance to simply ask how your employee is doing, and gage whether they need any additional support during the lockdown.
Get external support
Depending on the people you have on your team, you may find it beneficial to engage the support from people outside of your organisation. This could be experts in mental health to deliver one-to-one support, financial advisors to offer virtual sessions for employees, fitness experts to deliver some Joe Wicks style sessions to get your people moving or even people to deliver mindfulness sessions to help keep your people centred in this difficult time!
Encourage team collaboration
Not only should you be checking in with your employees to keep them engaged, but you should also try to encourage (but not force) team collaboration too. This could be investing into communications tools like Slack / Microsoft Teams, and creating channels to allow teams to share ideas or have some light-hearted conversations with colleagues. The idea is to keep people feeling connected, without turning it into “organised fun” … we are not sure about you but we personally cannot go back to the life of zoom quizzes! Collaboration tools designed for remote teams can also be a big help to make the transition to working from home a lot smoother too, so consider adopting tools such as Trello to help you manage shared projects.
Keep up the motivation
I am sure every business started 2021 with big ideas for what they wanted to achieve, so it’s important to not let the lockdown scupper this entirely, although we appreciate that for businesses such as hospitality this is easier said than done. Instead look at what you can achieve in the next six weeks, and look at how each employee can help you achieve these goals. It may be that you set targets for your sales team, task your employees with creating content for a new social media campaign or use the time to develop a new strategy for 2021. Set clear goals, and key metrics to track these and hype up the team to work towards a shared objective!
Plan a post lockdown activity
In a normal year January is the month where many of us choose to book a holiday, in order to have something to look forward to in what is highly revered as the most depressing month of the year. Putting the date of something positive in our calendars can give us a much-needed boost, so why not consider taking this approach for the lockdown? You might not be able to jet the team off to St Tropez, but you could commit to an activity / event / treat for your people once lockdown has ended (or more likely for later in the year when the vaccinations have been completed and we *hopefully* have some freedom back). At JobHoller we usually organise a monthly celebration with our Searchability colleagues every first Friday of the month, so we know that the promise of an epic celebration once life is normal again will put a smile on our team’s face!
Consider setting career goals
Just as the lockdown may have hindered some of your goals as a business, it’s important to remember that it may also be having an impact on the personal goals of your people too. Your employees may have hoped to start the year working towards a pay rise or promotion along with a number of other goals that are now up in the air thanks to the pandemic. Consider using the extra time at home to invite your employees to share their career goals / ambitions with you. You may find that discussing this with them, and outlining ways you can help them reach their ambitions can give employees’ a much needed dose of motivation!
Finally the important thing is to be flexible! Your plans and strategies are likely going to need to be adapted, and even with all of the experience of 2020 behind us we know that we need to prepare for anything and everything this year! The companies who are able to adapt and change quickly will fair well, and this attitude should be extended to the whole team too. If you find that you need to flex elements such as working hours to make lockdown life work for the team, then have those discussions. Your people will thank you for listening and being open for change where possible.
Hopefully this blog will have sparked some ideas for all of the teams out there navigating another lockdown. We are always looking to assist our clients with ways to engage their teams and promote their employer brand, whether that's in a lockdown or not! If you are in need with a lift, please get in touch with one of our employer brand consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes and Happy 2021 from the JobHoller Team!