The importance of engaging and retaining staff

With many people still working from home nine months into the pandemic, morale could well be starting to wane. 

It’s hard to stay upbeat when you’re working alone day in, day out with no physical contact with your colleagues, but this is the situation we find ourselves in so we need to do all we can to remain positive.

It’s important to find ways of engaging with your employees in order to keep enthusiasm up, enabling them to be productive and do their jobs well. If they’re despondent and down, it will be harder for them to feel the motivation they need to carry out their work. When working in isolation, any tiny problem can feel huge as you have no one to share it with immediately.

Retain your staff

Recent statistics show the number of staff on the furlough scheme to be 9.6 million in the UK (Statista, 3 November 2020), but even those not furloughed could be looking elsewhere if they feel demotivated with their current employer or are concerned about job security.

As an employer, you need to reassure your staff - both those on furlough and those still working - that they are valued and that their jobs are safe. Explain that the furlough scheme is simply a way of managing costs until business picks up. Most businesses will be furiously planning and doing all they can to increase business before the scheme ends in March to ensure staff can come back to work.

This should be communicated to staff so they feel reassured that they will have a job to come back to. Those who are uncertain may start job searches and this is not the time to lose talented, knowledgeable employees that can ultimately help your business recover. If staff do leave you’ll have to deal with skills gaps and recruiting new staff and training them, which is costly and time-consuming, so it’s best to do all you can to retain good staff wherever possible.

Top tips to keep staff engaged

  • Communication is key! Keep in touch with your people on a daily basis, even if it’s just ‘good morning’ or ‘how’s it going’ messages a few times a day. Many companies have instant messenger groups that allow the whole team to chip in and share snippets about their days, which is helpful. Small companies can do this easily and larger organisations can do this within their smaller teams to make it manageable.

  • You could even go one step further and do daily team video calls - just 10 minutes in the morning to say hello, share any news and discuss the day’s tasks will do wonders for morale. Just seeing each other on a regular basis will lift everyone’s spirits!

  • Ask the team for ideas on other ways to keep in touch. After nine months it may have already been done, but keep plugging away to maintain those working relationships. You could try online quizzes, video charades, online coffee breaks and maybe even a socially-distanced walk or two between colleagues.

  • Remember to communicate any company updates regularly and thoroughly. Keeping staff in the loop, with both good and bad news, will build trust and loyalty and instill confidence that their jobs are secure and that everything possible is being done to keep it that way.

Make remote working work for you

Some people may thrive working from home, while others may not. It’s great to be able to get on with your work with fewer distractions from ringing phones, office chatter and tea rounds, but it can also get a bit lonely after a while. Both the employee and employer should try to think of ways to improve stamina for working at home to ensure productivity levels do not drop.

Try sitting in different places to work if you have options - just having a different view, a different perspective, a different light, may help boost your morale for a day or two. Make sure you are comfortable wherever you are as you’re not going to want to sit and work for hours at a time if you’re uncomfortable.

You could try breaking up your day a bit more - instead of having an hour lunch break, why not try three 20-minute breaks throughout the day to mix it up a little? Use this time to do a few practical chores, have a power nap or read a magazine/book and you’ll return to your desk feeling energised and ready to work.

Try to continue with any meetings you’d usually have, even if these have to be via video call. Don’t cancel them in lieu of emails - virtual visual meetings are still a great way of keeping in touch and the chance to see a different face or two! You could even have a face-to-face meeting or two in a COVID-secure environment if appropriate.

Many have found it particularly hard not having that separation between work and home. Pre-pandemic, we’d work our hours, then leave the office and go home - now that our homes are also our offices, it’s harder to distinguish. Try to remember to take a step back and enjoy your downtime outside of working hours.

You need to retain a good work-life balance for yourself as well as your employer or you may start feeling resentful if you can’t switch off. Consider packing away your work station at weekends and during annual leave to give you that official ‘off work’ feeling.

Mental wellbeing

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that the number of adults in Britain experiencing depression has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic. Not only is this terrible for those who are being affected in this way, but it’s also having a huge impact on companies with staff absent and unable to work.

Monitor your staff and try to assess their wellbeing. If you have a staff member suffering from depression, it’s important to recognise the signs so that you can support them and assist them in getting professional help.

Where we come in

PETA offers a range of courses that could be relevant to your business. Check out our Leading a Remote Team and Leading your Team Remotely courses to learn more about managing teams in these challenging times.

Mental health has been a very prominent topic this year, both in and out of the workplace. Why not enrol one or two of your people on the Mental Health First Aid Champions course to encourage recognition, understanding and support amongst team members? For managers and HR professionals, Mental Health First Aid will instill the knowledge needed to not only recognise signs, but to create and sustain a mentally healthy work environment.

Professional coaching

If there are any areas in which you feel you need a bit of extra guidance, perhaps because you’re new to management or you need help getting to grips with the current ways of working, our professional coaching service may be the right route for you.

We can help you overcome individual challenges, develop leadership skills or change direction. Our team of experienced coaches will work with you to create a bespoke coaching package that meets the needs of all involved. An initial consultation meeting with your dedicated Business Coach will give them the opportunity to recommend and tailor a bespoke package from our gold, silver or bronze services.

HR support and consultancy

We offer an HR support service which covers a wide range of HR-related activities from policy document creation and procedure reviews to staff onboarding, redundancy and performance management. Our first-class HR professionals will work with you to tailor a bespoke package of support that is delivered to meet your requirements, support your business and promote the wellbeing of your staff.

Whatever support or training you feel you could benefit from, get in touch to discuss your requirements and together we will find a solution that works for you.


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