Our Top Tips for Employers During Lockdown and Beyond
It’s been six weeks since the UK entered lockdown, and businesses across the country have been finding all sorts of ways to adjust to and succeed in this strange new status quo.
Just like any change in business circumstances, the lockdown has been quite a challenge to get used to - but for companies that are flexible and forward-thinking enough to adjust, it’s also provided an opportunity to embrace new ways of working and managing. Employers in every field are now needing to work smarter than ever - and it’s driving forward some pretty inspiring innovations.
Ever since the initial three-week extension to the lockdown was announced, the pros at The People Pod have been posting some top tips over on LinkedIn for employers to succeed - and now we’re rounding them up to share with you right here!
Master the Art of WFH
We’re pretty sure that by now, you’ve already set up your dedicated home office that’s hopefully not shared with home schooling children or noisy partners. You’re actually proud of your WFH routine: prioritising skills, ground rules, video communication, solid structure and well deserved scheduled breaks.
Yet, there’s many challenges to overcome before we truly master the fine art of WFH.
Over the last four weeks our clients have mentioned some of their key challenges during lockdown. Namely, leading from a distance, recognise and reward, managing change and disruption, sharing information, nurturing team mindsets, staying in lane, people planning and learning on the fly are some of the points that came up in conversation.
As employers and leaders, we’d like to hear what challenges you’re facing when mastering WFH.
The Power of Positive Thinking
As an employer and leader, your employees and suppliers may look to your lead for emotional cues. It’s important that your emotions are infectious and you’re displaying positive motivation wherever possible.
Be positive with your team and champion change. There has never been a better time to prove your leadership skills or build upon them. Inspire your team, communicate with that same passion, energy and reassurance. Remind them daily of the small victories and have alignment with your personal and company goals.
Maybe sometimes suppliers are taken for granted and there’s never been a better time to empathise with, and recognise the importance of your suppliers. Talk about the fantastic relationship you’ve had over the years and what positive changes you can make at the end of lockdown to strengthen this even further.
This applies to your recruiter too; outline and discuss your 12-month candidate attraction strategy and organisational chart advancements.
Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create together!
Recognise and Reward in Lockdown
Your employees are your company’s most valuable resource and it’s a simple human need to want to feel valued. When an employee is recognised and rewarded for their hard work, it can have a huge impact on productivity levels.
It’s not about rewarding somebody every hour - it’s simply acknowledging the right effort, behaviours and achievements during lockdown!
Rewarding your team and recognising great work is important to boost staff morale, instil confidence in their work, contribute to a great working environment and retain top talent way beyond lockdown.
We have heard some interesting rewards during lockdown, such as a brand new home office tech pack, early finish Fridays, flexible hours, extra holidays for the future, online vouchers, virtual award ceremonies and even online fitness and wellbeing classes.
Intangible rewards are great too. Start a recognition campaign by publishing great work and achievements on internal memos or social media. A personal message from the MD?
Employee recognition and reward is one way to set your company apart from the rest and it is a fantastic method to help retain and attract the best talent in the future.
Leading From a Distance
Although you’re not going to have the benefit of in-person communications, as a leader during lockdown you can take certain steps to steer your scattered team to success. Then recognise and reward this in lockdown fashion – check out our last tip.
There are several behaviours that are associated with highly effective and motivating virtual team leadership.
- Re-envision - during lockdown a new culture will develop, new ways of working will emerge and there will be shifts in virtual team dynamics. This is an opportunity to build upon relationships and overhaul processes.
- Trust - looking for new ways to spark team spirit, align company and personal goals and collaborate effectively. Does your team feel comfortable asking for help?
- Empower team members - there’s going to be a lot of independence within virtual teams, which makes finding ways to delegate extremely important for success. To ensure accountability, set up a good system for monitoring progress but avoid micromanaging.
Many of us are part of a virtual team and team leaders play a dominant role driving overall effectiveness and positive motivation during lockdown. Do you have the interpersonal and commercial skills to steer your team to success?
Champion Positive Change
Change is inevitable and occurring right now; there’s no way to outrun it or ignore it. We can, however, control the way we react to change. The way we act, think and even feel during lockdown will champion positive change:
- New emotions are normal. However, don’t dwell on these emotions, try to balance them and maintain a positive perspective during lockdown.
- Take time to step back and analyse what this change means to your team and what little steps need to happen in order to successfully adapt. This will not happen overnight, think through your approach to overcome the obstacles and don’t try to rush the desired results.
- Celebrate the small victories throughout the change process, whether that be successfully remaining focused WFH, recognising great work, and anything that makes you feel proud of your collective work.
- Be virtually available and visible throughout the change. You can’t lead without great communication and it’s essential to be passionate and persevering. This is essential as you must wholeheartedly believe the initiative at hand.
In summary, the goal is to achieve buy-in, master virtual teamwork and be positive. Now that you know how, will you champion the positive change of lockdown?
Gamification is the concept of digital motivation through gaming theory. Most employers have experienced significant digital transformation over the past 4-5 weeks, right? If you haven’t done so already, the addition of virtual gaming elements can craft a fun learning and development experience for your team.
To ensure a successful transformation effort during lockdown, now more than ever it’s crucial to keep your team engaged and motivated by way of virtual endeavours.
There are many benefits to gamification such as real-time feedback, enjoyable experiences, better employee engagement, greater creativity, the development of specific skills, enhanced innovation and even an impact on your bottom line.
We’ve seen gamification in a number of forms during lockdown and even dabbled in a few ourselves, such as quizzes, funny polls, burpees for wrong answers, online whiteboard Pictionary, gamified onboarding training plus many more! Feel free to share your fun ideas…
It’s the game that everyone’s playing. Are you?
Stay in Lane
Staying in lane usually applies in boom time to refocus high growth companies on the importance of being the best they can be and mastering their core business. Of course, during lockdown there is an argument that your business may have to look for new opportunities and ultimately lean into them. However, being agile does not mean your business values and ethos must change too.
During this time of multiple distractions, it may be the ideal period to stay in lane and refocus your team on your core business, values and ethos so you can truly raise your standards.
Why not mark yourself out of 10 on the following question:
“How knowledgeable are my team members on our core business offering, values and ethos?”
If the answer is less than seven or eight out of 10, then maybe it is a great time to work on some online training.
Sharing information during lockdown is essential to align team members with relevant key information. Be sure to collaborate effectively, share your knowledge and manage expectations with integrity.
We understand lockdown has completely wiped out all physical interaction with team members (unless social distancing), yet now is the time to focus on making sure information is transparent to both employees and suppliers alike.
If your team is WFH, they will probably be going through the same uncertainties and challenges that you may be facing, both personally and professionally. It’s vital to empathise and understand their situation and sharing information is a great way of doing that, whether it’s keeping them abreast of changes, helping build their knowledge, educating and self-developing, or even celebrating smaller daily successes that we sometimes overlook.
Grab a coffee, jump on a video call and unite with your employees and suppliers. This open, honest and transparent approach will help you share information and give them a sense of value which they may need and deserve right now.
Got any creative ways in which you share information during lockdown? We’d love to hear them.
Learning on the Fly
If ever there has been a time to skill test our ability to learn as we go, it's right now during lockdown. Of course, we have all been tested in recent years with technology changes, GDPR and HMRC online to mention a few. However, lockdown has really put our ‘learning on the fly’ skills to the test.
Our recent posts for employers have highlighted several challenges that our clients have embraced by ‘learning on the fly’ over the last four weeks, namely:
- Mastering the art of WFH
- Leading from a distance
- The power of positive thinking
- Championing positive change
- Staying in lane
- Sharing information
These proactive employers have adapted quickly, realised how to overcome adversity, been open to change, championed a positive atmosphere, recognised benefits and concerns to continually improve and above all enjoyed the challenge of unfamiliar tasks.
Employers, what challenges have you had to overcome quickly during lockdown?
Nurturing Team Mindsets
As we attempt to navigate a way around the challenges that this situation has presented to our teams both personally and professionally; WFH, video communication, home schooling, partner and pet distractions, new routines and not to mention the cabin fever. Now more than ever it’s crucial to nurture your team’s mindsets throughout this change.
This isn’t just a one-off, it’s a continuous display of leadership that your team may look to, at any time, for inspiration.
I think we can all agree that as a leader during this time, you make it your responsibility to care for your team’s wellbeing, growth and development. You need to align your positive mindsets and identify the skills of individuals and the team to work to their strengths, but also redirect your failures among these new challenges towards learning on the fly and encourage constructive feedback.
Above all, be seen leading from the front and appreciate your team. Successful teams empower and inspire each other, so it’s also important to deliver and receive praise when it’s deserved – even the small victories!
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Take the time to check in, nurture mindsets and embrace the change.
We’re all doing our personal best to navigate our way around these challenging times. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to take the time to show empathy and compassion to ourselves and others.
When we exercise compassionate empathy, we find the right balance between logic and emotion. Expressing the right amount of empathy in combination with emotional intelligence helps us provide proper support wherever necessary.
There are many skills that can help you effectively show empathy and compassion. Here’s a few that we have learned come hand-in-hand:
- Asking the right questions - Ask thoughtful questions that are specific to get to the root of the issue.
- Active listening - Make yourself as available as possible and don’t just listen to what people have to say, hear, acknowledge and understand them too.
- Stay close - Of course, not physically, but be available, take interest and really get to know your people.
Our teams, families and communities need us to be stronger than ever and as available as possible during these times. Also, our teams thrive when they feel that their voices and concerns are being heard.
This raises the question: are we showing real empathy to our teams?
Analyse Your Competition
When was the last time you ran a competitive analysis? It may be further down the priority list than you would like it to be; but if there’s room in the diary, now is the perfect time to check if you’re missing a trick.
A competitor analysis can benefit you in several ways such as identifying gaps in the current market, developing new products and services to adjust to lockdown, uncovering market trends and it allows you to market more effectively.
We’re pretty sure you know who your top 10 competitors are by now; so, here are five steps that contribute to a successful and informative competitor analysis during lockdown:
- Analyse and compare content - Is it more engaging, do they have more variety or are they simply talking about something you’re not?
- Look at social media engagement - If the content is on point, this should follow!
- Check for service/product diversification - Are they adding new ones or changing the costs?
- Observe how they promote their marketing content - How keyword rich is it, what platforms are they more active on, use of internal linking, etc.
- Conduct a SWOT analysis - not original; but it works.
How does your business currently stack up?
Prepare Your Five Best Case Studies
Let’s be honest, you probably have several amazing clients who’ve contributed to the success of your business over the years, right? Well, why not shout about them?
Case studies are vastly under-leveraged yet radically effective. They allow you to tell a real-life story about your brand and the clients you have successfully collaborated with.
Whatever your product or service, lockdown is the perfect time to highlight your success stories and accomplishments that you are super proud of. They have the potential to resonate well with prospective clients and hopefully attract them to your business.
Remember, case studies are not reviews. Reviews are valuable also, but case studies are a detailed demonstration of your expertise. Break down your brief, your challenges, your approach for your client, the results and the impact you have made to their business.
When writing case studies, be sure to format it in a way that smacks impact and keeps your readers engaged, who could be anyone from a passing customer to a life-changing prospective client.
Share your story, demonstrate your success, and make your amazing work known to the world!
We understand that there are still critical vacancies to fill to maintain operational excellence within your business. But you might be asking yourself how you can manage the onboarding process when everyone is working remotely?
As we continue to face new challenges every day, this is a hurdle you can jump with the right approach and tools for the job.
Here are some insights to virtual onboarding:
- Invest in the right technology - If you’re providing a WFH set up (such as laptop, phone, etc.) be sure to send these ahead of their first day and have the software pre-installed.
- Build an engaging virtual culture - Involve them in your team meetings, weekly quiz and virtual meetups. Create that shared sense of positivity, camaraderie and community from day one.
- Set realistic expectations - When new employees know what’s expected they give themselves time to recharge and participate in purposeful ways, without burning themselves out trying to remain visible.
- Communication - Be sure to employ a conscious effort to communicate those missing side conversations and cues.
Even in this unprecedented time, the shift to remote working shouldn’t hinder the onboarding experience for your new employees.
Extraordinary changes have seen many leaders re-evaluate their entire approach to leadership; and for good reason.
Commercial business decisions have had a much wider implication than simply not hitting a financial target, health and safety being number one.
We’ve shared many tips over the last three weeks from learning on the fly, nurturing team mindsets, showing empathy, sharing information, positive thinking and how to champion positive change. This takes the concept of transformational leadership and gives it an entirely new and meaningful gravitas.
Leaders have had to adapt to changes not only to perform but survive during these challenging times. All this whilst maintaining a promising vision, with conviction, keeping their team motivated and creative.
Lockdown has brought a new relationship between motivation and creation. Whether it be leaning into new opportunities or doing your weekly team meets on Zoom; it has certainly shown that transformational leadership can steer a companies’ ability to adapt to change.
We can all be proud of the transformations made, the perseverance shown and the integrity in action. Challenges always make us stronger.
By following the advice above, you can get ahead of the curve and make sure your business continues to succeed for the duration of the lockdown, while putting you in the best possible position to thrive when business returns to normal.
For more expert insights into the best ways of optimising your hiring and workforce management, get in touch with the experts at The People Pod. Find out more the services we offer for employers, or give us a call on 01204 589 555.