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Employee Engagement Takes New Forms During the Pandemic

Sarah Corrigan

Employee engagement has always been a priority at IWCO Direct, not only because we care about our people but also because engaged employees make us more successful, plain and simple.

Prior to Coronavirus (COVID-19), employee engagement was easier. We held town hall style meetings to communicate our purpose and culture. We welcomed new hires in groups to create a sense of belonging and community. We met daily at white boards to collaborate, solve problems, and innovate. We recognized success face to face, with handshakes and smiles.

When COVID-19 hit, our focus shifted immediately to putting a plan in place to safeguard employees against the virus, and our business against the potential economic impact of the pandemic. We sent as many employees as possible home to work remotely, while we figured out how to social distance with those who remained onsite. Together, we continued to do the best we could to provide world class products and service to our customers, but the virus was distracting (as it should have been).

Our acute and immediate response to the pandemic was important. COVID-19 presented, and still presents, a risk to our employees, families, and communities. The stress and urgency created by the virus ‘unknowns’ gave us the energy we needed to figure out quickly how to adjust, and our IWCO Direct team managed the challenges with grit and resilience. The old adage, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ absolutely played out for us, and we are grateful for the hard work and determination of every one of our employees.

We are fairly certain that this sudden shift in focus took a toll on employee engagement. Having our faces covered, social distancing, and meeting remotely has made the interactions that foster engagement more challenging. No problem-solving at the coffee pot. No celebrating service anniversaries in the break room. No handshakes and fist pumps to show our appreciation. No in-person company meetings to allow us to keep everyone informed.

Structure of Employee Engagement has Changed, Commitment Hasn’t

We are proud of how we have ‘survived’ the pandemic to date, but it’s time to get back to doing as much as we can, now COVID-style, to maximize our employee experience.

We have invested in a tool to communicate real time to employees by smart phone until we can meet again ‘town hall’ style. We will provide tools that encourage physical and mental wellbeing while we wait to re-open our fitness centers. We will look at new ways to help recognize milestones, like service anniversaries and individual achievement, until we can shake hands and show our smiles. We will figure out new ways to ‘play’ so we can alleviate some of the additional fatigue and stress the pandemic has caused.

In short, we are committed to an employee experience that demonstrates our gratitude and appreciation, and motivates and inspires our teams to continue to make meaningful contributions to our success as a whole. Our employees are our most important asset, and we want to make sure everyone feels it.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2020/10/21/employee-engagement-during-pandemic/
Sarah Corrigan

Author

Sarah Corrigan

SVP Human Resources/Environment Health & Safety. Graduate of Colby College with a JD from Suffolk University. Passionate in her belief that employee engagement is a critical driver of individual and business success and is key to a safe, healthy, happy, productive workplace. Away from work she enjoys doing anything outside with her family.

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