Every month, we’re highlighting stories, trends and tips related to employee engagement and workplace culture that organizations should be keeping top-of-mind in order to engage, retain and recruit top talent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has required all of us to not only work differently, but also to think differently about how we support and engage employees through such an unprecedented situation. As we continue to navigate this new world of work – and make sure we’re better prepared for situations like this in the future – here’s a recap of the top six things that organizations should be keeping in mind when it comes to keeping employees engaged through such a challenging time.  

1. Have a plan in place We may not have been able to predict that a virus would force us to work from home for most of the year, but this pandemic has shown the importance of having an emergency plan in place. Make sure you have strong internal channels and protocols for communicating with employees in situations like this, and a solid change communications strategy to keep them updated as the situation evolves.

2. Be supportive – For many people, the sudden social isolation and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic caused heightened levels of stress, anxiety and fear. From having to learn how to work productively from home, to balancing childcare needs and virtual schooling, it’s enough to make anyone crack. Companies must continue to support their employees through these challenges by being empathetic, flexible and communicative. Here’s a reminder on some of the different ways to do this.

3. Give employees what they need – Working from home was likely new for most of your employees, highlighting the importance of having the right tools to operate virtually. Most companies now have the right technology in place, but there’s still more to consider. Do your managers know how to manage remotely? And how are you combatting the inevitable virtual meeting fatigue? With working from home likely still the norm going into 2021, make sure you’re thinking beyond just the tools themselves.

4. Show appreciation During tough times like this, it’s even more critical for organizations to recognize their employees’ above-and-beyond efforts and ongoing commitment to the company. There are plenty of virtual, non-monetary ways to show appreciation for your employees, which can go a long way in making people feel valued and increasing retention. Here are some best practices and thought starters.

5. Prepare appropriately for the return to work – There’s a lot to consider when deciding whether it’s time to bring employees back to the office. But beyond putting the standard safety precautions in place, companies need to be ready to articulate the why behind bringing employees back, and set clear expectations – especially for those who may not want (or are unable) to come back. Here are tips for handling the different employee return-to-work mindsets, as well as other return-to-work consideration.

6. Think long-term and continue to evolve Regardless of whether your organization is going back to in-person or remaining remote, there’s no doubt that this pandemic has forever changed the way we work. What we’ve come to see as the “new normal” will likely continue to evolve, and the companies that think ahead and evolve their engagement strategies and culture accordingly will be the ones that succeed. Here’s a look at some of the changes we’re anticipating and some tips to help you get a head-start now. 

What are some trends that you’re seeing in the workplace? We’d love to share them in a future post! Check back next month for more.