8 ways to engage staff during pandemic

'Make a plan and move forward with optimism.'

April 16, 2020

Keeping employees engaged is more important than ever as credit unions serve as financial first responders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to Matt Monge, director of culture at On the Mark Strategies.

He addressed employee engagement during the CUNA Managing Economic and Operational Challenges COVID-19 eSchool, offered free as a CUNA member benefit.

Monge offers eight ways to engage employees during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Be human

This is especially important when employees work remotely, he says.

“It’s more important than ever to figure out ways to maintain contact with our teams,” Monge says, adding that videoconferences, virtual happy hours, and fun competitions are great ways to foster connections.

2. Empathize

“Think about how folks are feeling during this time,” he says.

Many employees today are concerned about their health and job security.

3. Be flexible

Peoples’ lives have changed dramatically, Monge says.

Not only are many people working at home, they’re also watching children during the workday. “The routine some folks thrive off is now gone,” he says.

4. Be realistic

Don’t, for example, tell staff everything is fine, when it’s not, Monge says.

“That’s not to say everything is gloom and doom,” he says, “but we need to acknowledge our anxieties. That gives employees freedom to express their anxiety. Then you can make a plan and move forward with optimism.”

5. Be optimistic

“If you look back at the course of human history, people have always done amazing things in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds,” Monge says. “What we have now aren’t insurmountable odds. Therefore, I’m optimistic. Our job as leaders is to give our people a cause.”

6. Overcommunicate

During the crisis, it’s essential to anticipate changing daily needs. Therefore, daily communication is essential, whether through phone calls, email, or collaboration software.

7. Recognize, recognize, recognize

Give people positive energy, Monge says. “When people do good things, recognize them. People are making herculean efforts right now. Recognize them.”

8. Use the power of stories

The human brain is wired for stories. “Who’s not binging on Netflix right now?” Monge asks.

“Tell stories about what your people are doing,” he says. “It not only recognizes them, it reinforces cultural values that you want to see happen again and again. It almost becomes mythology within an organization.”