As the US economy starts its recovery and the workforce heads back to the office, ensuring a corporate culture that empowers employee engagement and loyalty while simultaneously establishing an environment that attracts new team members will prove to be essential for your people culture going forward.

It goes without saying that much has changed over the past few months in the world of human resources, including a transition into a distributed work environment overnight (literally). Several lessons have been learned as we focus on keeping remote teams motivated, excited, and engaged. Here are 4 pillars of resource management that I find to be incredibly effective as we continue to grow our business in this new domain.

1. Establish an Environment Based On Integrity and Trust

Creating an environment where employees have trust in their managers and the organization they work for has long been recognized as a critical component of employee engagement. With so much of the world swimming in uncertainty, it is essential that employees believe their employers will do the right thing, and that they can have faith in the information that is being shared. Building this type of culture requires time and commitment, but its power cannot be overstated.

B2B Soft had established a culture of transparency long before COVID-19, where we routinely share our company’s performance and financials with all associates on a regular basis. Additionally, the company issued stock options to employees empowering them with a sense of ownership and alignment. The net impact of these practices built an initial foundation of trust where the entire team understands that we are all in the same boat rowing in the same direction. The fact that employees at B2B Soft transitioned seamlessly to the “new normal” and continue to be as motivated and productive today as they were before the unbridled pandemic, is no doubt a testament to the deep and trusting relationships the organization forged with all of our staff throughout the years.

2. Open the Doorway to Clear and Effective Communication

Establishing clear expectations and effective communication, while important to all working arrangements are particularly critical when it comes to telecommuting. Transactions that take place effortlessly when in the office, sometimes unconsciously throughout the day (e.g., saying good-morning to a co-worker, waving team members over for a huddle, following up on an e-mail when you pass a colleague in the hall) requires planning and intent in a virtual situation. To bridge the connectivity/communication gaps, we provide employees and managers with guidance and suggestions that include enhancing meeting frequency, content, and platforms. We also incorporate virtual happy hours, ask Senior Managers to reach out to employees for informal check-ins, and encourage small group meet-ups.

To ensure we are fully addressing the need for enhanced communication, we implemented bi-monthly Town Halls where we openly discuss the anticipated business impact of COVID-19 and provide regular updates on company and team success and challenges. Senior Management also uses these meetings to communicate our commitment to job security and to personally address any of the questions and concerns employees have on their minds. This level of transparency closely aligns with our culture of integrity and trust and has enabled our employees to spend their time focusing on their work rather than speculating about the business and their tenure.

3. Timely Communication Regarding Reward and Recognition

In this challenging environment, many employees are being asked to do more than they ever have. Inherently, employees tend to work longer hours without a clear line of distinction between work and home environments. Therefore despite the economic downturn, being rewarded and recognized for their contributions remains a priority for many employees. Each company’s ability to provide merit increases and bonuses at this time will vary, however remaining transparent and communicating promptly regardless, remains essential.

Acknowledging the importance of these issues while truthfully managing employee expectations can help teams remain engaged and establish trust. It’s also important to help them see the path forward by discussing and facilitating opportunities for growth and development that establish clear visibility to a horizon down the road.

4. Empathy; People Don’t Care What You Know Until They Know That You Care

Leading with empathy has become more important than ever. Managers need to recognize and demonstrate that they understand how stressful these life-changing events have been for their employees. It goes a long way to show you care and truly want to know if employees need anything, ensuring they are ok or if they need any assistance.

The team you’ve built and cultivated is your most precious asset. Continue to be there for them, maintain transparency, invest in their success, and you will establish a strong foundation of trust, loyalty, and results that will help drive your business forward as the world aligns in the new normal.

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