When COVID-19 safety-in-place initiatives were first announced in March for Los Angeles, our team began to transition from working at the office to working from home. One of the first things I did at the start of this transition was give everyone on our team my personal cell phone number.
Why did I do this? In the event of an emergency, I think it’s of critical importance that employees have more than one means of reaching their employer. If they’re unable to access their work email, a phone call or text to management should be the next step.
This is, unfortunately, not the first time our team has been in an emergency situation. Our office is headquartered in Calabasas, a region of Southern California that was impacted by the Woolsey Fire in 2018. Our team was able to stay safe during this time through remote work at home. I made sure everyone had my personal cell phone number and kept everyone updated through emails and phone calls until the evacuation order lifted, and we could safely return to work again.
Giving your cell phone number to your employees may be a small gesture. However, it goes a long way in showing how much you value your team and their hard work. As employees continue to work remote during COVID-19, what else can small businesses do to show team members that they are valued?
Check in with the team as a group and one-on-one.
By now, most small businesses have successfully adapted to using Zoom videoconferencing software. In addition to having group video meetings, make sure you have quick team meetings. These may be as simple as 15 minutes to chat together about highlights from each person’s respective weekends and enjoy morning coffee or breakfast.
Additionally, check in with your team members on a one-on-one basis. If you’re managing a department, schedule in a time to chat with each member weekly. Use this time to connect over their personal life as well as address any questions they may have or feedback as it relates to the company as a whole.
Show employee appreciation often.
Before the pandemic began, the Harvard Business Review ran an article on little things that make employees feel appreciated in the workplace. This piece notes that employee recognition and appreciation are two separate terms. However, they are often considered to be the same. In the case of employee recognition, for example, you might applaud a work anniversary. The danger of employee recognition, however, is that it can often feel perfunctory. Almost as though you’re checking off a box to ensure you don’t forget to be appreciative.
Employee appreciation, on the other hand, gives team members a meaningful sense of appreciation. A good example would be to regularly share with each employee how their hard work is contributing to the bottom line of the business and how you value working alongside these talented individuals. The more employees are recognized for their hard work, the more they’ll actively seek out ways they can be even more productive within the company.
Showing employee appreciation is not a difficult act to stick with either. Say thank you in your email correspondence together and send out emails to the entire team stating the great work each member has done. Make sure your appreciation is inclusive and baked into a team member’s work routine as well as the overall culture and climate of the workplace.
Encouraging — and implementing — feedback.
Many organizations will stress that they are open to feedback from employees. However, being open to feedback and implementing said feedback are two very different things.
In order for businesses to move forward in a post-COVID world, they must be able to prove that they value the thoughts and ideas their team has in this moment. Encourage feedback from employees. Listen to what each person has to say. Make a note if a common thread is touched upon, such as creating a new aspect of the benefits package dedicated to mental health assistance. Once you have enough feedback, you may discuss these ideas with the team and strategize on the best way to implement them in the “next normal” moving forward in and out of the workplace.