106 Communications

6th Sense

Quizzes and cupcakes? Four ways managers can really engage employees post-lockdown

June 2020 | Employee Engagement, Internal Communications

The past nine weeks of lockdown have seen managers dealing with unprecedented demands from their leaders and teams. Now lockdown is being eased, managers must lead their teams through a smooth transition back to business as usual while maintaining wellbeing and employee engagement.

They urgently need to step up their mental health support for employees. Figures published by the CIPD and Simplyhealth show that only 31% of managers are considered to be sufficiently confident to initiate discussions around mental health and help staff gain expert sources of help (Personnel Today, 31 March 2020).

They need to give staff in frontline operational roles, such as those in construction and manufacturing, access to channels to raise concerns about working practices and issues that matter to them. Research conducted by Nottingham Business School in partnership with the CIPD, found significant divisions between the “employee voice” in the office and on the shop floor even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit (Personnel Today, 13 May 2020).

It is well documented that managers are one of the most important influences on employee engagement. According to Institute of Internal Communications (IOIC) research, managers are responsible for up to 80% of the variance in employee engagement and are the most effective way for companies to listen to employees’ views and concerns.

Managers are the front line of communicating with employees with accountability for dealing with many issues which were once the preserve of the HR department.

They may not feel as well supported as they need to be to deliver the levels of engagement for which they’re held accountable. They may have limited capability or interest in employee engagement; or may not see the value.

Internal communicators are well-placed to partner with managers as trusted advisers to coach, counsel and collaborate on employee communications.

There’s more to employee engagement by managers than holding a Zoom quiz or sending out cupcakes. We think there are four effective ways internal communicators can support managers to really engage their employees, post lockdown.

  1. Regroup

After eight weeks of lockdown, this is a chance to get back together either virtually or socially distanced to reflect and acknowledge what people have been through. Ask how everyone is doing. Share a personal experience and encourage others to share theirs in 121 conversations or in team calls. Thank your team publicly and recognise what you have done well using the employee recognition system.

  1. Refocus

Think about the current state of your organisation and how you can refocus on priorities. Restate your company purpose, mission and values. Reflect on whether the past eight weeks has changed them and if so, how. A separate session on values or a values moment in meetings works well. Restate your top three business priorities for 2020 and articulate top three team priorities for the next week, month or quarter. 

  1. Reinforce

Right now, employees need simple, concise, timely, clear and transparent communications from leaders which explain what is happening, why and how it impacts them. Managers must signpost the support and guidance in place such as HR, Learning and Development, Health and Wellbeing advice via email or regular updates on the company


  1. Respond

Think about next steps and in the weeks to come. What opportunities are there to provide employees with a safe space to provide feedback? Plan how managers keep tabs on employee mood and concerns via surveys, focus groups or listening sessions. State how managers will be supporting team members going forward individually.

Zoom quizzes and cupcakes are great thing to do to lift employees’ spirits as a one-off. But a manager communications plan and employee engagement toolkit will ensure quality employee engagement that truly lasts over the long term.

We’ll help you motivate your managers with a brilliant communications and engagement plan. Get in touch with Henry today Henry@106comms.com


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