Lockdown, for all its obvious faults, frustrations and failings (to put it mildly), had some positives. As most companies saw their staff confined to working from home, or indeed furloughed, it also forced them to focus in on new ways to try keep their staff engagement levels high, and their teams feeling valued. 

This is no mean feat when your employees are spread far and wide, all with different interests, different communication preferences, and different personalities. And what’s great is that you can see across social media that plenty of companies really are going the extra mile to find weird and wonderful ways of keeping their teams connected in a fun and meaningful way. From the now traditional Zoom quiz, to the virtual ‘Come Dine With Me’ sessions, since lockdown began there has clearly been an important effort made and an honest understanding that the people working for you will be what keeps your business going through these difficult times, and as such their wellbeing is paramount. 

But now we see lockdown beginning to ease, and some semblance of normality coming back (even if it is wearing a face mask!), it can be easy to get over-excited about ‘normal’ and forget that many of your staff will still need to (or prefer to) work remotely, some will still be in the vulnerable category and need to stay home, and some of your staff may still be furloughed. So despite the strange sensation of craving ‘business as usual’, it’s more important than ever to keep up that enthusiasm and creativity when it comes to keeping all of your employees engaged, and not just those who can come back into the office. Here are our tips for keeping the employee engagement going: 

Ask questions - It’s important to give your teams options, whether that’s when to start going back into the office, how often (or indeed how little!) they want to have check-in calls and emails to see how they’re doing, and what they would consider as a fun get together (a virtual pint isn’t everyone’s cup of tea). Talk to your team and take a keen interest in who they are and how they’re feeling. 

Listen - When you ask your questions, make sure you really listen to the replies and factor them into your decision making. One person may want to do a virtual ‘Through the Keyhole’ to show off their lockdown DIY, but another might prefer to stick to a simple quiz and keep their private life private. Pick up on each individual’s personality traits, and tailor your engagement plans to suit. You won’t please everyone all of the time, but making sure your events are varied and the way you communicate is flexible, you’ll hopefully get pretty darn close!

Get creative - You know the cliches; think outside the box, push the envelope, raise the bar etc (yawn). But no, really, employee engagement is definitely where a bit of creative flair can really come in handy. Make a list of things you and your teams could do to get together remotely (or better yet, enlist a taskforce from your team to brainstorm some ideas that they think would work well), anything from online escape rooms, to ‘lunch and learn’ sessions over a video call. Keep that thinking cap on - you may need it for a while longer yet! 

No pressure - This one is key. Your team will no doubt be tired of lockdown, tired of quizzes and video calls, and just generally pretty blooming tired. So it’s really important that no matter how creative you get, no matter how keen you are to get absolutely everybody involved in something, there should be no pressure. Your team will have had enough pressure on them during lockdown without feeling obligated to get involved in every extracurricular activity. Forced fun is never really fun. Your team knowing that you care enough to organise these events and initiatives, and also knowing that you don’t expect them to take part in each and every one, will make your team feel appreciated and listened to. 

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