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COVID19 Lessons to Help Employees Feel Valued at Work
The coronavirus has disrupted life as we once knew it. For many, it has brought real tragedy in the loss of loved ones and livelihoods. The rest of us must do our best to cope with the rate of change on personal, professional, and financial levels.

The good news is that most leaders acted quickly and decisively when the pandemic hit.  They put employee safety first.  And improved employee engagement results across the board showed it.  It was clear that leaders cared, and employees appreciated it.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon period seems to be over.  With the virus still not contained, nearly sixty percent of employees reported feeling burned-out (a fifteen percent increase from the prior month), based upon increased workloads, lack of purpose, and unclear team expectations.  While ramped-up wellness efforts can help fight anxiety and depression, more is required to engage employees.

Employee Engagement
A Wall Street Journal survey revealed that over one-quarter of almost 2,000 respondents stated that “my work doesn’t feel particularly important or meaningful.” This feeling is not surprising given that many are feeling a kind of low depression with the pandemic covering the whole world like a pall. But business leaders need not simply accept that their employees feel down. They can do something about it.

Steps to Bolster Employees
There are several steps employers can take to try to motivate their employees to stay on task and continue to perform at their best.

  1. Reinforce their Purpose
    A crucial aspect of employee engagement is feeling that what you do matters and has an aligned purpose that represents more than just earning a paycheck every week. Remind your employees of the importance of their contribution – not just to you but to the team, the organization, and all stakeholders.

    Employees who believe their efforts are meaningful and valued stay connected and engaged, even when they are offsite and removed from the day-to-day camaraderie of co-workers.

  2. Communicate Regularly
    It is important to stay in touch. Video conferencing is an obvious way for the team to keep connected while remote. But another is for managers to schedule frequent one-on-one meetings with individuals on their team. Show that you care by asking questions about how they are doing and then truly listening to their answers.

    Understand that everyone is under extra stress these days. Their feelings of sadness and isolation may stem from personal challenges and not problems with the job.

  3. Do What You Can on the Workfront
    Besides lending an empathetic ear, be creative in thinking up ways you can support your employees on the job and ensure that leaders of your organization value people as their most important resource.

    Can you shift the workload or find more fulfilling stretch assignments?

    Where can you make investments in new skills to make people more successful?

    Do people see professional growth and career development opportunities for themselves?

    Are you doing what it takes to ensure that people feel like they are paid fairly considering the value they bring?

    Just make sure that you ask for feedback about making it a great place to work, take meaningful action, and implement employee engagement results.  Do not wait!

  4. Do What You Can on the Personal Front
    Perhaps your employee needs to find fulfillment in a new hobby, volunteer work, or reaching out to friends and family. People who feel they are learning and expanding are more likely to feel more positive about their lives in general. We all can benefit from seeking ways to make a difference in an area we care about.

    Do not underestimate the power of personal relationships during challenging times. Research by the Greater Good Science Center confirms that if you want to be happier, then you should focus on the quality of your relationships in terms of kindness, compassion, cooperation, and forgiveness.

The Bottom Line
Reach out to your employees especially now that we are all more isolated from our work colleagues. This is a time when you can prove you care about them, value their contribution and support them, personally and professionally, as we all do our best to deal with the stresses of the pandemic.

To learn more about how to help employees feel valued at work, download 29 Ways to Build and Maintain Trust as a Leader

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