Supporting Your Team in 2021
Post by: Jim Boomer, CEO
We’ve officially passed the one-year mark for when the COVID-19 pandemic really started to impact most people’s daily lives in the U.S. People are getting vaccinated and starting to resume some activities they’d put on hold for months – including returning to the office. And yet, we know it’s not business as usual. In the past year, people on your team may have dealt with a loved one’s death, unemployment, illness, anxiety, childcare difficulties, trying to balance homeschooling with remote work, and a number of other issues, complexities and distractions.
We may see the end of the pandemic on the horizon, but it’s still important to look for ways to maintain a strong connection with your team so they can navigate challenges and remain healthy and productive. To ensure you continue to support your people in the coming year, try these five ideas to connect with your team and boost engagement.
1. Recognize the signs of poor engagement
Firm leaders need to understand the signs of poor engagement to address the issue before it becomes a crisis.
These signs can include:
Poor attendance at remote meetings
A negative attitude toward work
Conflicts with coworkers or clients
Lack of enthusiasm and follow-through on projects
Don’t assume that because you haven’t heard any complaints, things are going well. People may be quiet because they don’t feel comfortable talking about their problems. Firm leaders need to make an effort to find out how people are doing – either by talking to people directly or via anonymous surveys – and take steps to help people re-engage.
2. Provide extra support
A supportive firm culture is always important, but even more so when people are dealing with added stress and uncertainty. When people are worried about their jobs, family, health or other concerns, they disengage.
Provide extra resources to support your people and help keep them engaged in their jobs. Some ideas include:
Scheduling frequent, one-on-one check-ins with people to ask how they’re doing and how you can better support them
Ensuring everyone is aware of and utilizing your firm’s mental health benefits, wellness program and Employee Assistance Program
Sharing additional resources for people experiencing anxiety or other problems
By caring for your team, you give them the headspace to care for your clients.
3. Communicate transparently
According to a Gallup poll, only 39% of U.S. employees strongly agree that their employer communicated a clear plan of action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 48% strongly agreed that their immediate supervisor kept them informed about what was going on in the organization as it relates to the pandemic’s impact.
It’s human nature for people to expect the worst when they believe the firm is withholding information. People can’t feel a sense of calm or connection to the firm when they don’t perceive firm leaders as transparent.
In the early days of the pandemic, you may have made an extra effort to communicate with your team. Don’t let those efforts fall by the wayside now. Continue to keep people informed about what’s happening and how you’re responding to ongoing changes.
Some firm leaders attempt to minimize risks in order to ease people’s fears, but that can backfire. Your people are smart – that’s why you hired them – and they will see through any sugarcoating of the truth. So continue to share information about the firm and its progress toward strategic goals. Emphasize how your team members play a role in those initiatives. This will help people feel a sense of control over the situation and greater optimism about the future.