Employee engagement is a major priority for today’s companies, especially as employees work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many workers are also juggling numerous distractions in their home offices, including increased parenting responsibilities and their health. While work remains an important priority, leaders must also check on the well-being, safety, and health of their workforce — going beyond the basic email and text message check-ins and forming a true connection with their workforce.
Developing a connection between boss and employee is critical. Deloitte’s 2020 Human Capital Trends report showed that 79% of organizations believed that fostering a sense of belonging is important for success over the next 12-18 months, but only 13% were ready to address this trend. While the data was released before the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have likely accelerated their development of best practices and programs to ensure employees’ needs are met.
Creating a sense of belonging goes beyond the traditional summer company picnic or Friday Happy Hour. In times of isolation, leaders need to build empathy to make employees feel safe by incorporating well-being into the work itself, including recognizing the connection between employees’ sense of belonging and their work performance, designing a company mission that aligns with core values, and bringing the team together. Programs will vary but can include spot bonuses, trivia games, exercise classes, or happy hours over video conferencing platforms.
During these uncertain times, leaders will also want to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to bring the team together. To match the increasing heterogeneity of consumer profiles, reserving a seat at the table for individuals of all backgrounds helps build bridges of trust and emotional connection. Research shows that companies that have above-average diversity produce 19% more revenue than those who don’t.
Leaders are guiding their company and employees through a moment in time that will be remembered for years to come. When the COVID-19 pandemic does end, what legacy will they leave? Now is the time to be empathetic and foster trust that pays dividends for years to come.
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