Sustaining Real Organisational Experience In Covid-19 Pandemic: Supportive Management

In our previous article, we featured Growth Opportunity, one of the six components that contribute to providing employees with a positive employee experience that is key to attracting, inspiring and retaining valued employees and talents.

In this article, we will be sharing with you on how your organisation can still provide positive employee experience through Supportive Management in Covid19 times.

Singapore is blessed with a great leadership that has helped it navigate the Covid19 crisis to contain the spread of the virus. While  Singapore has now entered Phase 3 with the easing of control measures albeit slowly, many countries around the world are seeing a rise in new infection cases daily and have enforced tougher control measures or even national lock-down.

At a global level, much remains to be seen if 2021 will see a brighter light at the end of the Covid19 tunnel. Being strategically and economically connected with the world, Singaporeans and its residents will continue to feel the negative impact the pandemic.

Hence it  is critical for organisations to ensure that their employees are well-taken care to help them have the positive employee experience that has a great influence on their stay with their organisations and motivation to perform in the light of all the gloomy effects of the pandemic.

With limited face to face meetings, employees can lose sight of their functional direction and ‘hibernate’ in isolation from others. Providing them with a clear sense of direction and goals with regular check-in ( at least virtually) will give them a sense of being supported, being valued and belongingness.

Organisations can also support their valued and qualified people by developing them to becoming leaders and managers in their functional team. We have observed that one of the natural tendencies for organisations in crisis time is to cut training and development costs, failing to see that crisis presents the best opportunities and times for people to be trained and developed to prepare themselves for the economy upswing.

Developing managers can take several forms that include sponsoring them for leadership and management programmes, enabling them to lead special projects that stretch their competency, enrolling them for management courses, regular check-ins with them to provide feedback, have them join workshops like EQ, Critical Thinking, Coaching, Communications, Presentations, Influencing Skills, Strategic Thinking Skills and more. Organisations can provide Performance and Aspirational Coaching to extend support to their their people to add to their employee experience.

In this unprecedented crisis, employee access to the management is curtailed and hence reaching out to them with coaching would certainly give them a sense of being valued and appreciated, adding to their overall positive experience at work.

An article by Wei Zhang in Harvard Business Review, “5 Strategies to Support Your Employees Through a Crisis” cited a survey done on employees at the onset of Covid19 in 2020  shows “some definitive patterns in leadership behaviors that gave employees a sense of stability, empowerment, and inclusion despite the crisis.”

These include:

1. Showing appreciation

To lend support to the employees, leaders recognize, praise, and appreciate their employees  efforts and contributions. The surveyed employees cited even a  small act of affirmation such as saying “thank you” for a job well done helped brighten their day.  Leaders also  talked about an employee’s accomplishments during team meetings to affirm their contributions. The survey suggests that affirmative behaviors by their leaders made employees feel proud and validated “during a time when contact with coworkers was limited and fears and uncertainty about job security and the future ran high”

2. Individualised support

Caring leaders realise that employees have different family situations and circumstances and need individualise attention and support. The survey shows that “leaders regularly checked in with them on how they and their families were doing, showing awareness of their specific challenges and signaling their availability”. Employees with individualise attention and support from their supervisors feel cared for. The leaders redistributed tasks among team members to accommodate different and changing needs as a form of support to get everybody going, helping employees to “ feel less stressed, experience more positive feelings toward their leader and their team, and created an atmosphere of trust and understanding that motivated them to apply themselves more fully to work”.

3. Involve employees in decision making

When leaders sought out, and acted upon their employees contributions, the latter feel valued,  honoured,, trusted, and being an integral part of the team. When was the last time you involved your employees in decision making? Perhaps, it’s about time you do it again.

4. Give employees new responsibilities

Surprisingly, the survey shows that employees feel empowered, important and more confident “when they were tasked with new responsibilities even while organisations scrambled to meet the challenges of the pandemic.”  Such responsibilities included “taking on managerial duties when supervisors were overloaded with additional work to lead new initiatives, and being asked to mentor coworkers because of their existing expertise, or their experience with remote work.”

5. Design time for team bonding

The survey shows that leaders created specific opportunities for their employees to virtually bond with their coworkers. “Virtual coffee breaks, happy hours, lunches, time for story sharing, and even games played over Zoom” were introduced to ensure the team members have the support and needed connection.  These practices helped to relieve stress, feel belonged and motivate employees to do better in their roles.  

The above as just some of the many things organisations can do to keep their valued people connected, appreciated, motivated and most of all have the overall employee experience that would help keep them staying with the organisation.

In summary, Supportive Management is among the 6 key components that drive a positive employee experience, a precursor to employee retention.

For the other related articles on Sustaining Real Organisational Experience In Covid-19 Pandemic, click the link for more.

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