Engaging with your employees during times of change

Any business leader worth their salt (like you) knows that a thriving business needs committed, motivated employees. Times of transition and change — if they’re not handled well — can have a negative impact on employee wellbeing and motivation.

The key is to keep engaging with your team. Here are our top tips to handle change well.

Keep communication open

Nothing breeds anxiety and demotivation in a team as quickly as poor communication, or worst still… no communication at all. Keep communication open, honest and frequent. Try to give staff as much forewarning as you can about potential changes in role, new processes or even potential job losses.

While you’ll instinctively want to reassure your employees, truth-telling will ultimately build trust and a willingness to follow your leadership.

Recognise training opportunities

Seize the opportunities in any period of change. Will some roles or processes need to adapt? Then provide training to make sure your employees are equipped and motivated to excel. 

Try to shift from a ‘survival’ mindset and instead look at opportunities to upskill your team for future success.

Promote mental wellbeing

Remember that each employee needs to be well to work well. Dedicate some time to promoting and supporting mental wellbeing among your staff. We recommend some leaders and managers having Mental Health Awareness Training to give them the tools and strategies to manage their employees’ mental health problems with greater confidence and efficiency.

As well as check-ins with line managers, you could offer regular social check-ins, or even access to physical and mental wellbeing subscriptions.

Seek employee feedback

If you want to know how best to lead and engage with your employees during this time, then ask them. Create a platform in which employees can provide feedback in an appropriate and pressure-free way.

Specific questions can help keep things on track, but also recognise if employees are reporting a general lack of motivation or wellbeing, and put steps in place to help.

Build measurement and recognition processes

Recognition is a powerful incentive. But during times of change within an organisation, it’s easy to lose sight of recognising and rewarding work, especially as outputs or roles may be changing.  Make sure you build a culture of measuring and recognising excellent work. Put processes and rhythms in place to make this easier.

Download our expert guidance pack to help lead your business through times of change >>

We’ve created a pack of five guidance documents, designed to help you walk your team through times of change. We’ve done a lot of the legwork for you, so inside each, you’ll find policy templates, essential checklists, and all the HR forms you’ll need.

Take the headache out of leading a business through change, and take a look at our Guidance Documents.

HR policies you need to review post-COVID

I think it’s safe to say that almost every business has had to change, adapt and innovate as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic may have even been lucrative outcome for your business, but you’ve still had to adapt your way of working. Yet as we’ve scrambled to respond to, and recover from, challenges, many businesses have struggled to ensure that their HR policies are updated to reflect our ‘new normal’.

Now is the perfect opportunity to carve out some time to make sure that your HR policies are fit for purpose in a post-COVID workplace. Here are our pointers for where to begin.

Business Continuity Plans

What happens to your management structure if your key leaders are taken ill? What if your building is destroyed, or your assets are lost? Or what if — just imagine — there’s another national lockdown, but you somehow need to keep your business going. 

Business Continuity Planning seeks to preempt threats to your business and work out which continuity arrangements are in place to safeguard or mitigate against risks.

Update your Business Continuity Plans in light of learning from 2020, and if you don’t have one, begin producing it now. That way you can respond to threats in a timely way and protect staff, brand reputation and profit.

Sickness policies

Are your sickness policies workable right now? 

If staff are unable to access a GP, do you still require a doctor’s letter? 

When does sickness pay kick in if staff are self-isolating due to a positive COVID test or the fact that they’ve been in contact with someone with COVID?

It’s time to update your Sickness Policy to make sure they are practicable, affordable for your business and fair to your staff. Consider how sickness leave works, what reporting is expected, and what to do if trust is abused.

Employee contracts

If you’ve adopted remote or flexible working this year and it wasn’t previously explicit in employee contracts, then make sure these are changed to reflect changes in your working pattern.

As well as the expectation for flexible working, make sure you’re clear about working hours, and providing any equipment, software or stipend to make remote working possible.

Emergency contact details

Updating employee details is a bit of housekeeping which often gets forgotten. This happens especially when the onus is put on employees to remember to update management when they or their emergency contact changes phone number, or moves house.

With current ‘track and trace’ responsibilities, holding the proper contact details for your staff is vital.

Ensure that all employee details and emergency contact details are up to date, and consider setting in place an annual reminder to review and update these.

Working procedures and risk management

This is perhaps one of the areas which has seen the most extreme changes over the course of 2020. 

Ensure that you have a properly formulated policy, in line with the latest government guidance, to keep employees safe in the workplace.

This should include what you as the employer are doing to adhere to regulations, and also the behaviours required of your staff. 

Download our guidance documents

We’ve created a series of guidance documents, including editable policy and contract templates, to make it is simple as possible for your business to thrive in the post-COVID workplace.

Check out our excellent guidance documents now.

How to implement flexible working in your business

Flexible working can provide huge benefits to your business and your staff. 2020 has already proven that businesses can shift to remote and flexible working at a moment’s notice — and also that they can thrive with the right systems in place.

Right now is the perfect time to make sure you’re implementing the right processes to set up your SME or organisation for flexible working success.

Make flexible working optional

Flexible working means allowing your people to make choices. Working remotely isn’t the preferred option for everyone. For some a mix of in-the-office and at-home working is the perfect combination for team interaction and optimum productivity.

Now isn’t the time to impose a one-size-fits-all policy for all your teams. Allow for flexible working options in your policy when onboarding new staff, reintroducing those on furlough, or making updates.

Your policy needs to become part of your culture

Policies are great. They ensure that your business is compliant and keeps you on the right track. But for flexible working to thrive in your business it needs to become part of your company culture.

How do you do that? Talk about it wherever possible, celebrate flexible working successes, build social events and catch-ups around flexible working, and try to keep it front-of-mind in your communications.

Inspire and equip managers

Great management is one key to flexible working success. Make sure your managers and leaders are inspired and equipped to help their teams work flexibly.

It’s worth investing in good training to help manage teams remotely, and also to boost your managers’ communication skills. These investments now will reap dividends down the line.

Invest in the right technologies

There’s nothing quite as demotivating and frustrating as outdated technology that doesn’t work like it should.

Create a checklist of all the IT and infrastructure your home-working staff will need to thrive, and make sure they’ve got it. Consider hardware, software and specific subscriptions or platform access.

In addition to that, make sure you have technology in place to bridge the gap between your remote staff and those in the office.

Download our Flexible Working guide

We know what it takes to run an SME. That’s why we’ve taken all the hard work out of making sure your business is set up for flexible working success.

Download our 19 page guide to setting up a flexible working environment. You’ll also get a time-saving template homeworking policy and a DSE assessment form in the bundle.

Our Flexible Working guide is one of five Guidance Documents we’ve created to relieve all your workplace headaches. If you have staff returning to work or working flexibly, or you’re planning for the future of your business, it’s well worth your time to access all five guides and make big savings.