The COVID-19 virus created a pandemic that affected our economy in many ways. Places of business either had to adapt and quickly change their ways of doing business to a way that was safe, or risk closure, possibly on a permanent basis. Some company employees were being laid off and others quit due to job dissatisfaction. So, what have we learned from the pandemic as far as running a business? How can a business retain its employees and keep them satisfied in their positions? Let’s explore five ways to ensure employee retention during a crisis.
Adapting to creative ways to continue running a business during a pandemic was perhaps the most difficult hurdle to overcome for many companies in 2020. For some, it was not possible to go fully virtual, as some businesses serve the public, such as health care organizations and dental practices. Administrators were forced to scramble and figure out how to keep their employees and the public as safe as possible, while continuing to keep their doors open and allowing everyone to keep their jobs.
This is where being flexible really came into play. In order to retain employees, some job assignments needed to be changed, and some people needed to be moved to working virtually from home. Historically, people are resistant to change. We all seem to be creatures of habit, and if nothing else, the pandemic has taught us to be flexible. If you as a manger and company are flexible, your employees will be much more likely to follow suit.
The importance of effective and open communication during a major crisis cannot be stressed enough. During the pandemic, employees felt stress not only related to financial loss, but also emotional stress due to the loss of family or friends. One article concerning employee retention recommends that leaders should be “vulnerable,” and communicate “regularly with care, empathy, compassion and honesty,” thus relieving some of the uncertainty and anxiety related to a pandemic.
By communicating openly and with care, you can create a two-way street of sharing, allowing for your employees to also voice their concerns. One study shows that 95% of employees say they feel included by their organization when their employers show they care. About 91% of the those in the study would recommend the organization to a friend, and 60% of the employees plan to stay at the organization longer than three years.
Create a Supportive Work Culture
Whether your business is centralized in the office or run from home, you can still have a healthy and supportive work environment. One way this can be achieved is to ensure you are still checking in regularly with all employees. Try to do this personally, rather than sending a general email. Ask questions, such as “What is working well for you?” or “How can I help you be successful this week?”
Another way to be supportive is to ensure their benefits through the pandemic if you are able. A few important benefits through 2020 have been paid leave, childcare assistance, mental health services and health insurance. Be up front with what you can offer your employees during a pandemic. Take advantage of government programs that offer forgivable loans and other assistance to keep employee benefits intact.
As a company, praising and otherwise offering encouraging words for your team should always be on your list of priorities. But during a pandemic, passing out compliments may be a little higher up on the list than it was before. In a time of uncertainty and depression, encouraging words and acts of service go a long way.
One article provides a list of non-traditional ways to show appreciation for employees that can be used both in the workplace and virtually. Some of these opportunities for encouragement include gift cards, catered lunches, virtual happy hours, tuition assistance, free coffees and organized group activities. How many creative and cost-efficient ways can you discover to say, “Thank you?”
Evaluate Management Styles
It can be a shock to change from managing a group of employees in an office to managing an organization that is now a hybrid of in-office and at-home workers. According to one organization, the focus shifts to “quality of output and productivity.” The management strategy must then be based upon employee trust and empowerment. Clear guidelines and expectations should be accessible remotely in the case of the pandemic. Expectation conversations should be ongoing.
The pandemic has shifted the way that businesses will function in the future. In many organizations, virtual offices will now be part of the new normal and can even be used as an incentive for hire. To thrive as a business, we must evolve and be flexible in the way we hire and work. Having open communication and being supportive and encouraging of our teammates will ensure success during and after a global pandemic. How can you be proactive during and after a pandemic to retain employees?