Energizing Employees During a Pandemic
June 24, 2020
Most businesses are suffering financially to one extent or another during the current pandemic. In state-after-state and country-after-country, the economy is re-opening for business. Some areas are slower than others while some areas are faster in the return to normal although normal is certainly now a “new normal.”
As businesses reopen, the challenges of change are ever present and none could be more evident than the change affecting employees. If employees still have jobs, they might be working remotely, have hours reduced, asked to work flexible hours, tested for COVID19, or asked to wear a face mask. Some former colleagues, perhaps, no longer even have jobs and those that do might wonder if theirs will continue. Anyone on a commission income basis most likely has seen income reduced. All of this creates stress!
Regardless of the circumstances, businesses need employees who are energized. Employees are the vital link between a business and its customers. Even during a pandemic, some businesses have employees that still seem energized while others don’t. Is it possible for a business to have employees who are inherently energized and motivated without any effort on the part of the owners or management or, perhaps, could it be that management is an energizing force behind the scene?
Assuming management plays a major role in energizing employees, the following are effective ways to accomplish this goal:
No single employee or group of employees can be properly motivated without open and continuous communication from owners or managers. Regardless of the size of a business, especially during the challenging times of today, communication cannot only be from an employee’s immediate manager or supervisor. Communication from the top is equally important.
As a group, employees must know that they are considered to be an integral part of the business, which means they must feel a connection and be informed. When news coverage is consumed with the pandemic, business closures, unemployment, and negative economic forecasts, employees regardless of position want to have some idea about how the business is doing and their own job stability. Without this type of information, employees are left to wonder about the future...not a positive, motivating environment. Informed employees are engaged employees. Engaged employees are committed employees, and committed employees help drive a business forward.
Although owners and managers might be stressed due to lower sales, cash flow, or payment of debt obligations (and rightfully so), they cannot forget about employees. Even during tough times, employees need and crave recognition. Just a little something out of the ordinary to make the daily routine a bit different can have profound positive effects.
Naturally, everyone wants the recognition from the boss for a job well done; however, it is especially meaningful when co-workers are aware of the recognition. When employees are worried about their own health and health of their family members, recognition goes a long way in helping to eliminate stress of the job (and pandemic) if only for a short burst of time. Remember, images of residents waving flags and singing for first responders? Everyone is not a first responder but the result of recognition is still the same.
There are other simple forms of employee recognition not directly related to job performance. Balloons, cards, or flowers for work anniversaries, birthdays, family events, etc. also add to an employee’s enjoyment and feeling of belonging. The goodwill obtained from these small cost items far exceeds their monetary value. It tells an employee, “We care about you as an individual especially during these difficult times.”
Many times work incentives are only thought to mean monetary incentives. Certainly, monetary incentives are important and work to motivate a large majority of employees; however, when businesses are just trying to make ends meet, monetary incentives might be out of the question. Non-monetary incentives might be an unexpected couple of hours (or full day off work), a gift card, lunch brought in for employees working on location, lunch delivered to employees working remotely from home, or a gift sent from an online retailer. Certainly, the list of incentives is only limited by one’s imagination.
Worth the Effort
Energizing employees (and certainly during a pandemic) is not created without effort or by accident. Business owners with energized and engaged employees put forth energy themselves to accomplish this important goal. Employees with the right attitude and energy can stabilize a business and help move it successfully into the future...even an unknown future. On the other hand, when this is not accomplished, a business can remain in a stagnated position or spiral downward. In today’s business environment, it is much wiser to bet on what an energized group of employees can do rather than risk the alternative.