Engaging with your employees during the storm

3 Minutes Read

We hear so much about engaging with your employees during the storm and how today’s business climate is so unprecedented that it borders on a cliche. When I am speaking with some of the smartest people in human resources none of them are afraid, they are just blown away because they don’t know what the next step is.

When I talk to them the idea that employee engagement is more important than ever. Before it was how do we do it? Now it is we have to do it so what do we do? My answer is I don’t know what exactly you should do but there are some things you can do!

With more than 20 years experience working with some of the smartest innovators in human resources there are some things that you can and should be doing now to guide the ship through rocky waters. They are:

  • Engage with empathy
  • Enhance your employee communications
  • Do what you may not have thought of ever doing

Let’s talk about these in more detail

Engage with empathy--Empathy is not something that is associated with employment. More often than not the opposite is true and, in the coming weeks, empathy is going to be in short supply. There is no doubt it will be in the heart and soul of an organization faced with an impossible situation, but when it’s your role being eliminated it will be completely missing in your opinion.

That is why you need to engage with your employees with more empathy than ever before. Directly engage with your employees on what is going on and work to address their concerns. Understand they are worried for their future so focus on what is working well without sounding like you’re trivializing their fears. Let them know that while it’s a different universe the work will continue today, tomorrow and in six months but be honest and tell them it will be a changed universe for the time being.

Enhance Your Employee Communications--Now is NOT the time to tell employees to check the organization's intranet for further news. Be in regular contact with your teams. Let me be clear that regular is not constant. They don’t need you to email or call everyone together for a video chat every day.

One thing you need to do is make clear the organization’s priorities during this crisis. It’s not enough to say your employees are your priority. One would hope so. It’s a matter of making it clear how they fit into the organization, the HR department needs to work together with senior managers to gain the pulse of the organization via feedback from the managers and respond accordingly.

Do What You Thought You May Never Have Done Before--When I look around I see Orchestras having concerts online along with Broadway shows and one of my favorite bands moving their annual St Patrick’s concert to the digital realm it’s pretty clear we’re in a world that has left usual far behind.

So maybe your organization can be quick and think of a new way to engage employees. Maybe it could be down to the team level where the managers take time from a meeting to engage employees by having someone talk about a non-work related hobby or family member. Maybe someone can play a pre-recorded video of one of their hobbies or you can have someone from one role provide an informational demonstration of what they do so the rest of the team can appreciate it.

One just amazing example I heard of is a CFO at one of our clients who is hosting a reading hour for parents whose young children are stuck at home, unable to play with their friends.

That probably would have never happened before something this unimaginable took place.

Let me leave you with some tips

  • Engage your employees and help them through a time that is both terrifying and endless
  • Do anything and everything you can to keep a constant channel of communication open
  • Do somethings you may never have thought you would have done to engage with your teams

I’ll say it again that we live in uncertain times and even the best HR people don’t know what will happen day-to-day. Even the best of managers will be impacted in negative ways. But you can’t lose faith in what makes you great and what you know has made you successful. Continue following those ideals and you will emerge with teams that will need a reboot but not a restart.


Todd Horton