As we gear up for what feels like the strangest Christmas in living memory, you would be forgiven for not feeling festive.
69% of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home in 2020, impacting both business productivity as well as the overall health of the workforce.
So, how do we combat this?
HINT: Do not host a Zoom call and dress it up as a “Festive Party”.
A 2020 virtual party is going to be difficult for employees to refuse.
Usually, invitation emails can be ignored, excuses can be made, and, in those more extreme cases, fictional family members can suddenly demand your presence elsewhere. But those excuses don’t cut it during a lockdown. (At least you can always blame bad Wi-Fi.)
Whether it is on Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams, unfortunately a screen full of small square faces and bad internet fails to replicate the fun of a party even modestly.
The good news is you can do virtually anything else.
Whilst staying in remains to be the new going out, it’s time to get creative.
Think virtual escape rooms, horse racing, cocktail classes, cookalong kits, karaoke, murder mystery parties, wreath-making, wine and cheese tasting, and, dare I say it, even the good ol’ pub quiz. The key is cutting down groups to teams of 2-8.
So long as you put some thought into your social event and consider the different personalities in your team, a small amount of effort will go a long way when it comes to making employees feel appreciated.
In January there is always a tide of “new year, new me” job hunters, so make time for 1-1s and check in on how your employees are feeling.
A lot of employees have struggled with a lack of visibility whilst working remotely and 36% of employees say lack of recognition is the top reason to leave their job.
If you have a team of 6 or more, each virtual team meeting has undoubtedly turned into an awkward re-enactment of ice-brakers in old school group sales interviews. Each person being called up one-by-one to give a snapshot update of their work for a few minutes before turning to the next.
Wrap up the year with an informal, genuine conversation with team members, check in on how they are feeling, and inevitably discuss how Jamie is doing on Strictly or your thoughts on this year’s GBBO. Make a conscious effort to appraise employees, recognise good work, and empathetically communicate your understanding of the challenges brought on by this year.
Communicate a plan for the year ahead
2020 vision didn’t pay off this year, but security and structure will be a priority for your workforce going into 2021. The pandemic has undoubtedly pathed the way for a ‘Working from X’ hybrid model, where, post-lockdown, people can expect to work in a way (and place) that suits their needs.
Speak to employees about what tools and technology they need to enable them to work flexibly. A lot of businesses rushed to provide stopgap solutions when lockdown #1 hit and have failed to find long-term, effective solutions since.
Find out what has and hasn’t worked for your teams. Do they prefer communicating over Instant Messaging or do they need a mobile phone? Have they struggled to maintain productivity because of poor home Internet speeds? Or do they simply need a second computer screen to enable them to successfully carry out their work?
Whilst budgets are tight for most businesses at the moment, if your employees are unable to effectively fulfil their roles whilst working remotely, you are throwing money down the drain by not investing in the technology that will support them.
So, to wrap it up, t’is the season for reflection and refuelling. Listen and hear what your employees have to say, invest in your employees by investing in the tech that will support how they want to work, and communicate a clear plan for 2021. Your teams will be rewarded with a feeling of confidence and personal power – something many of us need by the bucket load right now – and you’ll be rewarded with a happy, hardworking workforce. Oh, and, whatever you do, don’t put on a hard-to-refuse Zoom call and dress it up as a festive party – this year has been bad enough.