Supervisor Tools for Motivating Staff to Stay Engaged & Productive through COVID

By hire-up in Staffing Updates

Let’s all address the elephant in the room… we are facing a pandemic that is extremely hard to ignore. It’s all over social media and news channels, it’s the topic of almost all emails and conversations. IT’S ON OUR BRAIN and can’t be avoided. While a large percentage of people in California are either working remotely or are temporarily unemployed, there is still a large percentage of people going into work everyday for essential businesses.

Each person responds differently when a crisis hits – Some automatically respond by entering panic mode. This personality type has a hard time focusing on work in a situation like COVID. They feel unsafe, uninspired, and unmotivated. The other type of person is the one who responds by flight! They take lemons and make lemonade. These people still have a clear vision of their goals and are remaining positive, day in and day out. Let’s face it, we all have both types of people working in our businesses. So how do we help everyone stay engaged and productive throughout this pandemic?

Well, history has shown that times of crisis can provide some of the most important opportunities to deepen trust and commitment with employees. We have the opportunity to not only ensure greater well being for employees, but also position ourselves for greater business success when the crisis is over.

In times of crisis, it’s essential to not lose sight of your human side or your company’s cultural values. Instead, channel them into positive strategies and actions that will protect your employees’ well-being and improve your workplace culture over the long term.

Here are our top tips on how to approach the productivity impacts in the workplace:


Start each day with positivity

It’s hard to be productive when we are all constantly being presented with scary news stories and negative statistics about COVID. A great way to start the day at work is with 10-15 minutes of positivity – FOR EVERYONE. This can be in various forms – group chats, video calls, in passing upon arrival to work, via email, etc… When we start the day in a positive mindset, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. The more happy and fearless you are to start, the more focused and peaceful your day will be.

Here is a list of some ideas you can implement with your team: 

  • Have a daily group chat about 5 things each of your team is grateful for
  • Have your team create a quick vision board (on the computer) for that person’s weekly goals
  • Start a self-care challenge and discuss each morning
  • Post positive news about COVID statistics – wins only
  • Send your team affirmations or motivational quotes each morning
  • A loss in productivity is not a worry reserved for managers – it makes employees feel uneasy, too.
  • Ask people to try to limit the access to social media on breaks and such while at work. 
  • Get everyone to hold a smile for 30 seconds. This activity can be extremely funny to do in person or on a video call. When you start the day with a smile for a half of a minute or longer, it triggers a happiness response in your brain, again setting the tone for the day ahead. 

Confirm Priorities and Goals Regularly

In times of uncertainty, all people really want is someone to lead. They want their leaders to give them clear direction and guidance. Direct managers or supervisors should provide direction on business-critical priorities that everyone can rally around and contribute to. Make sure to clarify who is responsible for what and where employees can turn to for help in accomplishing the task at hand. 

Change your goal focus from long-term to short term. Thinking on a smaller scale in the face of COVID will be less overwhelming to your team. A day-by-day mindset may work a lot better right now, where as your business more than likely previously focused on the quarterly goal. This shift can be simple to implement and will make a huge difference in taking the pressure off.


Make sure your team feels safe

In a crisis like this, the most important thing that people need to constantly be reminded of is that they are safe. There are many things you can do to create a sense of safety in your place of business. 

  1. Have a temporary employee on staff to focus on sanitization / janitorial work. This person will clean throughout each day and at the end of the day. There are many affordable options to do this that doesn’t require you to break the bank. We offer temporary placed employees to help with this – we vet, hire, and onboard them so you don’t have to. Have a temporary employee on our payroll working for your company as soon as tomorrow.
  2. Set up wellness check stations at work. While this is required for all businesses in Fresno, california, it’s not required across all counties just yet. Mandated or not, we highly suggest setting something up to safeguard your employees and business. Each day, your employees will feel like they are being looked after with a trained professional checking in on their health. We are able to set this up for you as well if you are interested. A wellness temporary employee can join the team for just $28 per hour.
  3. Make sure that all shared spaces don’t have remnants of other employee’s personal items left behind. This goes for the break room refrigerator, restroom, etc… Just make sure that everyone knows shared spaces can be used but you are monitoring specific elements of those spaces just in case.
  4. Let your team know that if they are feeling emotion about the situation, you have an open door policy. Make sure to have someone set up to connect with people in need.
  5. Remind your employees of the resources available to them! In a crisis we can often forget about valuable resources already available to us, such as:
  • Access to counseling via an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Financial wellness coaching
  • Mental health programs
  • Company discounts on essential items

Whatever you currently provide, sending regular reminders will reinforce your care for employees while reconnecting them with resources that can help.


Engage in Times of Uncertainty

Some events, such as COVID-19, can be a long-term crisis requiring long-term changes. During these drawn-out uncertain times, it is essential for leaders to distinguish the difference between “leading” and “managing.” Leaders need to show the way forward and instill a sense of energy and inspiration. Engage and inspire by reinforcing how the group is contributing to the mission and goals of the company, and what makes them a unique group.


Look for the “silver lining”

While many play defense during a crisis, there is an opportunity to be aspirational as well. Imagine that the adversity of the situation coalesces your team to rise to its absolute best. Think about how you may all emerge from this incident stronger, more engaged, and more capable than you were before. Creating such conditions means you need to reassure and encourage the team that “we can do it”.  Explore how you can turn these challenges into opportunities.


Maintain a sense of calm

During a crisis, create a sense of calm. People aren’t always at their best when under stress, but you can set the tone with your own behaviors. Think of yourself as representing ‘the calm.’ Focus on practical considerations and actions while reminding your team that you will get through this tough time together.


Keep everyone in mind

With some of your team working remote and others in the office, it may be easy to forget some team members — “out of sight, out of mind”. To avoid forgetting about others, keep a list of the current core and extended team members in front of you while you’re working each day to help you make more conscious decisions about allocating responsibilities and information.


Ask emotion-based questions in your 1-1s

In times of uncertainty the human brain processes things emotionally. To help people with their anxiety, make them feel heard and help them sort out their thinking. Ask questions like: “How are you feeling?” “What’s on your mind?” and “What can I do to help help right now?”


Amplify team rituals

If you have 1-1s, team meetings, status updates, or team lunches, maintain the same routines (switched to virtual format, if needed). If you don’t have many rituals, consider introducing a few consistent touchpoints like a weekly update email or weekly virtual team standup. Rituals create a feeling of grounding that team members will look toward in times of change and uncertainty. Several companies have started implementing virtual “Happy Hours” that are optional at home. Those even working in the office can login after hours and join everyone on a conference calls over a glass of wine, introduce their families and get to know each other better. Consider suppling an electronic Target Gift card for employees to order groceries ahead of time to use during the Happy Hour. Anything to keep your team connected and distracted from the disparity of the news, may help them stay more focused while at work. 


Co-create a communication plan with your team

Ask your team to identify what should be communicated together as a team and who to go to for what. Then, create and share a plan. In your plan, name who to contact and what the decision criteria are. For example, if trying to decide if team travels should be cancelled, a decision criteria would be: “We will follow the CDC’s recommendations for now. On X date we will re-evaluate.”


Take care of yourself

Lastly, we want to make sure you are making time for you. People sometimes allow a crisis to take over their lives and forfeit family time, meals, and exercise. Such decisions may feel heroic in the moment, but they aren’t good for you or the organization. Attempt to maintain balance in your life—you’ll be a stronger leader for it. We have many resources at Hire Up Staffing that can help you balance your work life through this. Connect with us to see what we can do – weather it’s setting up temporary employees, setting up a wellness check station, getting a janitor on-boarded and ready to assist, or even if you have questions about laws and HR, CONNECT WITH US! We are here to help. We want to see you succeed through this and come out the other side stronger than before! 


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