Are your team and people feeling engaged and connected?

17 April 2020

The last few weeks have seen much change for us all and it looks likely we will continue in our current situation for a little while longer.  In previous blogs, we have talked about furloughing and how to look after our mental health in these times, but this week, we have asked guest blogger, Michelle Mook from Pro-Development to share some of her thoughts from working with businesses locally, on how important it is to continue to engage our people, whether furloughed or working from home.

So, how do we keep our people and teams engaged in these times?

Whether people are working from home or furloughed, they are still part of your team and it is key to continue to support them.   We know from research, being part of a team is a key element to feeling engaged and motivated at work.  Other drivers for engagement for focus currently are communication, leadership, vision and feeling valued. 

Your main aim now is to ensure, when you come out the other side of this, you have a team who want to come back, that you have retained through these challenging times and who are keen to return and raring to go. 

Sadly, we are already hearing about some companies in our region who have not been thinking about the people aspects of this situation and we know from conversations, that some will be in danger of losing their key talent to competitors.  Let’s not forget that we wouldn’t have a business without our people.  These companies did not communicate well, weren’t honest, open and transparent, used furlough letters as the key point of communication, are not keeping in contact now and have treated people as a resource, not a human being. 

Now, more than ever, is the time for compassion, empathy, understanding and consideration of people’s feelings and emotions.  So, on a positive note, here are some of our top tips for ensuring that you keep your teams engaged over the coming weeks:


  1. Always communicate and keep connected
    We know that when communication stops, people fill in the gaps, worry and create their own story. Don’t let this happen, make sure you communicate with your team every day. 

    • Be open, honest and transparent – your team are adults so treat them with the respect they deserve.
    • Two-way communication is key. Make sure your team have a voice too and most important, make the time to listen
    • Hold daily online sessions with the team – even for those who are furloughed, there is no reason not to keep in contact.
    • Consider different methods and technologies for different messages – some will need to be more formal and others informal; work out what is best for your people and teams
    • Keep going with your one to one sessions with team members – whether by phone or online, check in regularly with people, check how they are doing and coping.
    • Use other technologies to keep some of the banter and social chat – we’ve been using WhatsApp as a way to have some fun through these times.


  1. Have a plan
    We know that creating a vision for the future is key to engagement but is currently challenging. However, we can make short term plans, we can set a vision for now to help keep people focussed. 

    • Create a compelling vision for “getting through this together”
    • Encourage everyone to have a daily plan – what 3 things are they going to focus on today. This can be for furloughed workers too and is a good way to encourage them to focus on their plans for their day.
    • Keep plans simple – as the saying goes, don’t try to eat the elephant! Achieving anything right now is a win for many people.


  1. Be an authentic and inspiring leader

We know that in times of crisis, we look to our leader/manager for direction and support. This can be tough when you are also going through a whole raft of emotions yourself.

  • Allow yourself to show your vulnerabilities – this can link with the open and honesty as we know that this is what inspires people. Nobody expects you to be perfect, and it can often help others if they know it is OK to not be OK sometimes and can help to talk about it.
  • Trust your team – for many years, we have been encouraging our clients to provide more flexibility to work from home. We have now been forced into this and many are surprised at how quickly everyone adapted.  So, build on this.  Don’t micro-manage the team, just be there to support them if they need it.
  • Live and breathe your values – now is the time to step up and role model all that you have talked about over the last few years. If you have core values in your business, make sure you are re-enforcing them.  Whatever you ask of others, be willing to do the same.


  1. Develop a strong and valued team

Keep the sense of team going – working from home or being furloughed does not mean that you can’t still feel part of a team

  • Virtual coffee and lunch breaks – encourage people to take time out together
  • Recognise achievements through these times – we are in such a unique situation, anything that people achieve should be celebrated. More than ever people need to feel valued
  • Capture and encourage learning – everyone is learning new skills every day at the moment so make sure people record these against their personal learning or development plans.
  • Those who are furloughed can still be learning and developing themselves (as long as it is not generating income) and it can be a great time to do this. 
  • Celebrate success share successes every day with people and celebrate the small things.


  1. Support people’s health and wellbeing
    We know that isolation and loneliness can bring with it a number of health and wellbeing issues – another reason why it is so important to keep communication going with your team

    • It’s good to talk – ask people “how are you doing?” and if they say OK, ask “how are you really doing?” – this will often create a conversation that might not have been had
    • Encourage your team to look after themselves – whether it’s doing the Joe Wicks morning workout or just ensuring everyone gets that daily exercise.
    • Have some fun – we know that laughter and fun are good for our wellbeing. So, find some ways to have fun together and laugh together.  One team we know are together, combining their walking steps to see how far they get!


Michelle Mook and her team at Pro-Development work with SMEs across our region supporting them to retain talent, engage, motivate and develop teams, leaders and people.   You can find more information and further blogs about this topic on their website


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