Danni Rush, Chief Customer Officer at Virgin Incentives and Virgin Experience Days
With the UK now in a second national lockdown and COVID-19 cases spiking again, many businesses may worry that the country is returning to greater uncertainty.
The Government has stressed that the new lockdown will end on 2nd December and we all hope that is the case, however in a situation as unpredictable as a pandemic, business leaders must ensure that they are checking in with their remote working teams and motivating and engaging them during this holiday season.
Why you need to engage with your employees
It can be easy to assume that working from home is the preferred option for the majority of employees. But, in reality, not everyone is thrilled at the prospect of working only steps away from their bed.
Two thirds of Brits admitted to feeling lonely during the first lockdown, and although this study didn’t specifically ask about working from home, it’s likely that the lack of office interaction contributed to this sense of isolation.
Similarly, not every employee will feel comfortable working with the people they live with or might not have an appropriate environment for working from home – this is particularly true for people with young children or lots of pets.
With this new lockdown upon us, these anxieties look set to re-emerge and it’s essential that business leaders check-in with their employees individually and ensure that they feel fully supported.
The need to remain prepared
Whilst the national lockdown is set to end on 2nd December, business leaders should remain prepared and have the structures in place to support and motivate their team with a new virtual culture built through video calls, and online team-building activities, as the start of 2021 could be similar to much of this year. An open company culture with a unifying purpose will be key to ensuring employees remain positive and engaged with the business even if they continue to work remotely.
At Virgin Incentives, we place our company approach – ‘making every experience extraordinary’ – at the heart of all we do and communicate this clearly. It’s helped us to create shared values that brought a physically separated team together.
Replacing Christmas parties with virtual experiences
As well as long-term plans, employers should think about how they can engage and motivate their employees in the coming weeks. With Christmas parties now off the cards, it could be tempting for employers to save money this year by cancelling any celebrations and postponing the party to next year.
Whilst this approach is understandable given the ongoing economic disruption caused by COVID-19, it is unlikely to engage employees, who will cherish any opportunity to let their hair down and briefly forget about the pandemic.
Therefore, businesses need to think outside of the box and find ways to excite and engage employees within the parameters of the COVID-19 restrictions. For example, at Virgin Incentives we set up a virtual cocktail making class, which involved sending ingredients to each team member’s home and enjoying making the drinks and sharing our experiences over video.
A more targeted approach can also be a successful way to foster a positive company culture. This allows businesses to show employee recognition on a more personal level, strengthening relationships further. This can be achieved by gathering employee feedback and implementing their ideas or offering gift cards which employees can use to choose a bespoke gift from a range of options. For example, we offer a Virgin Experience Days Gift Card that can be redeemed at over 3,000 different experiences, including stay-at-home virtual experiences, and cover a wide range of interests.
Creating a company culture and engaging employees isn’t easy in the current circumstances, but it is also more important now than ever. As many workforces continue to work remotely, it is down to businesses to, re-connect employees, unite them under a common purpose and company culture, and keep them motivated throughout the pandemic.