During the COVID-19 crisis, you, like many other businesses, have most likely transitioned to remote work in varying degrees. Whether due to government regulations or a desire to protect employees and customers as much as possible, working from home is increasingly becoming the new norm. Not only that, many of your employees likely have unique needs and concerns: worries about potential job loss, concerns about infection, mental health concerns, or even friends and family members who may already have suffered from the virus. Managing employee performance during COVID-19 is therefore more complex than ever before.
So, why should you focus on effectively managing employee performance during this period? The fact is that you do not only want to survive through this pandemic, but you also want to emerge stronger and more resilient. Achieving this will largely depend on how you manage your most valuable resource- your employees. They are the backbone of your business and they have the potential to transform it if well managed.
Here are some approaches you can adopt to manage employee performance during this time
1. Pay Particular Attention to Employee Engagement
This pandemic has offered a huge opportunity to increase employee engagement. This is because many of them are more committed to their jobs and their employers, care more about their companies, and are eager to invest more creative energy in their efforts. This could be attributed in part to high levels of unemployment and the desire for employees to keep their jobs. There is, however, a lot that you can do to improve employee engagement even further.
As an employer, you have the opportunity to show how much you really care about your employees, markets and community. Your response to the current crisis will help shape employee engagement, potentially for years. For example, you could review your internal communication strategy to make it more fun and engaging. Some organizations have decided to be celebrating staff birthdays on Zoom or Google-meet, and this gives staff a sense of belonging which is critical in improving employee morale and performance. A good question to ask is “how can I creatively spice up my interaction with the employees to improve engagement?” If your employees aren’t engaged, you, as a manager, need to take a close look at why–and determine how you can alter your business to make it more attractive and engaging to those employees.
2. Consider Your Performance Reviews
How are you conducting your performance reviews during this period? What adjustments have you made with regard to this process? For starters, it is important to think about why you’re conducting these reviews in the first place — because, as the Covid-19 crisis trudges on, you’re not necessarily looking to weed out poor performers or decide who gets a raise. Rather, it’s to strengthen your organization’s culture and reinforce its values. How you treat your employees in this situation will make or break the culture in your organization.
Performance reviews can provide a valuable benchmark, not only for overall employee performance, but for how employees are handling the current crisis. It is important to adapt your performance review structure to be sure that you take the crisis into account. Make sure you know what challenges employees are dealing with and how it might impact their performance. Reward employees who have excelled during this time and offer encouragement and suggestions to those who have struggled with the transitions in front of them. Try to keep those interactions as positive as possible, even for employees who may have had difficulty with the transition.
3. Keep an Eye on your Company’s Future
As you manage your employees’ performance, carefully consider what the future of your company will look like. How will these latest changes and transitions impact the way you do business in the future? Many management teams predict a permanent shift in many of their operations. It is important to carefully consider how your current employees and processes will fit into that new normal. Ask for regular employee feedback and make alterations accordingly. Many of these changes are here to stay, and keeping up with employee needs can help enhance performance, not only in the midst of the crisis, but in the future, as well.
4. Communicate Extensively
Effective and constant communication with employees is more important than ever during this period. As a leader, it is critical that you horn your communication skills during this period to maximize the performance of your staff. Not only do they need a clear explanation for what’s expected of them, you also need to carefully listen to the challenges your employees are dealing with.
Do you have employees who are struggling to work from home? Employees who need more guidance or assistance? Do your employees need to check in with you more often? While you do not want those communications to become overwhelming, you do want to provide clear guidance for those employees. Employees cannot complete or be held responsible for what they do not know about. Likewise, your employees need to know how to get in touch with you to communicate their changing needs.
Managing employees during COVID-19 presents some unique challenges, but it can also be uniquely rewarding. During this time, your business has the opportunity to connect with employees as never before. By managing them properly, you can ultimately experience the benefits and growth offered by this unique period.
The writer is the CEO at Corporate Staffing Services, A HR consultancy firm based in Westlands.