Nirmala Venkateswaran

Best Practices to keep employees engaged and motivated during Tough Times | Nirmala Venketshwar | Sr.Vice President & Head – HR | Howden India

Nirmala VenkateswaranThere is a saying that “People may forget what you did to them but they will never forget how you made them feel”. This is apt in the current pandemic that is characterized by anxiety, uncertainty and stress. Thus the most important thing we need to do at this hour is to make employees feel that they are valued and are part of the family that is the Company. At this time when everyone is personally affected by Covid it is also meaningful to develop an emergency response team whom people can reach out to, at a time of difficulty. Further, we need to empower managers to lead their teams with empathy as everyone on their team may be at a different point of the change continuum as they are dealing with their own life challenges. They may implement a daily routine such as a check-in call / short virtual meetings that will help them to stay close to their team members. Such calls provide a great opportunity do not just discuss about work but also on how everyone is doing . They can ask them to discuss their highs and lows apart from their work. We can also show them that we are all going through this pandemic together and that there is a new challenge for everyone everyday. Next, we need to maintain consistent and constant communication with the employees. Due to lack of physical interaction, employees need to understand what is happening in the organization and be given the opportunity to ask questions. So it is important to have and conduct frequent Town Hall meetings and bring employees to about key company updates. Such transparent communication helps to build trust and also helps us to identify employee concerns before they become a major problem. At this time, we may also want to reconsider leaves and other policies. This is the perfect time for people to learn new skills, hence we need to focus on learning and development, of either products or services or soft skills. This helps to increase employee engagement and retention and also improves employee performance. It would be a good idea to provide our employees with best support and tools that they need to stay productive and healthy in the face of remote work. We can create a forum for employees to share resources, experiences and share best business practices; also try out wellness initiatives like meditation, yoga, etc for keeping fit and healthy. The importance of mindful focus in the new normal cannot be over-emphasized. Today, we have integrated our life with work and family, our children, our dog, our cat and what not! Our friends and family have become a part of this new ecosystem. So if we need to take care our child we need to do it; if we need to walk the dog, then we need to do it. Thus we need to give people permission for some artificial boundaries to adhere to their personal requirements as well. Finally we also need to prepare the employees to come back to office once the situation has changed and moves toward normalcy. We need to explain to them what life is like in the new normal and why they have to come back to the office and work like the previous times, although with abundant caution and safety protocols. There are some businesses where work from home will not and cannot extend indefinitely, in such cases the employees need to accept the same and prepare accordingly.