At this time especially, when we are in the middle of a pandemic, caring for employees means putting their needs and safety first—being transparent with information, giving them the tools they need for transitioning to remote work and, most of all, providing them with flexibility to figure out for themselves how to get their work done effectively. Employees need to feel fully prepared to do their jobs and to feel they have what they need to make everything work as seamlessly as possible—for as long as this situation lasts. Remember to acknowledge that although this situation is challenging, if teams work together and communicate openly and frequently, they will be able to navigate it successfully.
Maintaining the health and safety of Dudnyk employees and their families was paramount in the days leading up to the decision to move 100% to working from home. The decision came quickly and with unbelievable precision and clarity from agency leadership. Dudnyk’s IT department was well prepared, and within less than 16 hours Dudnyk employees were up and running with no network impact. A clear plan of action was relayed to the staff, and the move was set in motion. By the end of Day 1, we were hard at work in the comfort of our homes and our sweats. Dudnyk employees rocked this transition.
During these times it is important to ensure that your employees’ experience with your organization remains positive and engaging. The best rule to live by right now is that there is no such thing as overcommunicating, whether through email, Zoom, Teams, texts, and even the good old-fashioned phone call.
Throughout the past weeks people have been finding themselves bombarded with information from a multitude of outlets, including news, social media, and family members and friends. Employees are looking to their organizations as a key source of critical information. As one commentator recently observed in her article in SHRM, an HR daily newsletter:
“Across the globe, workers are turning to their employers for credible news about the coronavirus, creating a ‘considerable new responsibility for the corporate sector,’ according to a survey on trust by public relations firm Edelman. In general, respondents want more trustworthy information, and they worry about fake news and the politicization of the pandemic.”1
At Dudnyk our focus has been on completely transparent communication. Whatever we know, they know—every step of the way.
Perhaps a good motto for an organization, its leaders, and managers to follow these days is the following: Listen, Be Accessible, Be Flexible.
Check in more often than you might think necessary. Cascade your check-ins: executives, department heads, team leads, and coworkers. Encourage coworkers to check in with each other.
More than ever the relationship between manager and staff must be open, positive, and effective. When checking in, managers should ask staff members not only how their transition has been going with remote work, but also how they are feeling. For many staff members, the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenging transitions. Whether the concerns involve home schooling, aging parents, dependents, or the daily worry about becoming ill, employees are juggling much. It is imperative for you to demonstrate that you are available to help with these challenges and to support their need to find balance in their lives.
In the last few weeks, Dudnyk’s HR team has provided regular guidance and assistance on our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and through other mental health resources, as well as providing tips on how to work remotely. Employees have shared ideas with each other about what has been working for them and their families. HR also conducted an employee survey on the challenges of working from home. The answers we received in the survey will help us to become more flexible in accommodating our employees’ needs.
Foster Employee Engagement
Even in light of the pandemic, don’t forget what makes your culture and employee experience as strong as it is. Publicly celebrate the good stuff—great client feedback, creative collaborative thinking, saying thank you or great job to your peers. Even a small gesture of gratitude right now will go a long way.
Provide employees with ideas on how to look after themselves. Encourage them to take time to go outside while practicing social distancing—enjoying nature, reading something purely for personal interest, eating what makes them happy. We can all lose weight together once we’re back in the office!
At Dudnyk we have established a weekly Friday-at-five happy hour, as well as mid-day virtual coffee breaks so people can hang out to discuss their pets and what they are binge-watching on television. It’s the same thing we might do in the office kitchen!
Your Actions Will Have Lasting Effects
Your employees will remember this time and how you, as an organization, demonstrated your care for them. I’m left with these thoughts from the article in SHRM:
“The actions taken now can leave a lasting imprint on company culture and employee loyalty.…‘What folks will remember is how did you treat me in this moment? It's a great time to show who you are and how you value people.’”1