How to Keep a Team Productive in Times of Trouble
We have already talked in previous articles about how companies survive the crisis while maintaining the team and its relationships. And today, we will tell you how to keep your employees productive and support them in difficult times.
What Affects Employee Productivity
Employees’ productivity is affected by factors beyond employers’ control—well-being, housing issues, financial losses, personal worries, and the ability to support themselves. On the other hand, managers should focus on what is within their zone of influence—retaining or possibly increasing salaries, team awareness of what’s going on in the business, and team atmosphere.
Start with yourself
In times of anxiety, people may show aggression and allow themselves to make value judgments or accusations. When a supervisor conveys such states, the whole team becomes uneasy.
Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability and talk through what emotions you are feeling right now with the team. Alert the team if you notice that you’re starting to push when stressed. Ask people to give feedback at such times. Everyone can feel anxiety, so empathy and humanity are valued not only from the manager to the employee but also vice versa.
If there is an option to spend some of the calls combined with a walk in the fresh air, it will help to switch and show concern for yourself.
Organize supportive practices
Communication within the business should be aimed at relieving anxiety and providing psychological support. Below is a list of what large and medium-sized companies already practice.
- Sending emails out to the entire team. People feel calmer when they understand what will happen with their jobs. Tell them in letters about the business situation, management’s actions, and ways to support them.
- Meditations. You can partner with a yoga center to have them do online meditations or reach out to a similar place near the office and send employees to offline practices.
- Daily short morning meetings. Introduce them if you haven’t had this practice before. Team members can share priorities for the day’s tasks and ask questions, and the manager can voice new inputs. This way, you can check the psychological state of the team and keep your finger on the pulse.
- Sessions with a corporate psychologist. Many large companies organize meetings with psychotherapists for their employees. At the sessions, people share their experiences and get expert help. You can hire an in-house specialist or use psychological support services for your business.
- Individual conversations. Even a ten-minute one-to-one with each employee will allow the team to feel your care and empathy.
- Work at ease. Many employees want to be with family or even out of the country in times of crisis. Support remote work if possible.
- Raise salaries. People will feel safer when they have a sense of financial security. If your business can pay extra bonuses or pay raises, do so.
Conduct surveys to find out the mood of your employees
Get your HR department involved in monitoring the mood of your team. Written surveys are a useful tool. Yes, to some extent, this is the “average temperature in the hospital.” But thanks to the surveys, you will assess the overall climate within your team. And you will also notice the areas that definitely need to be improved because they worry a lot of people.
If one employee out of a hundred says that it is difficult for them to communicate with colleagues—this is most likely an individual characteristic. But when 60% of respondents feel this way, the business needs to rethink internal communications. If you want the most honest answers, make the surveys anonymous.
Update your instructions and work algorithms
Great if you already have honed processes and everyone knows what needs to be done. Adapt them to the mood in the information field: check the tone of communication, and leave the appropriate formats for the situation. But if the algorithms aren’t fine-tuned, now’s the time to fix that. Even in quiet times, employees may make mistakes because they do not understand the task correctly. In times of instability, chaos only grows, so it’s important to give your subordinates clear instructions.
Celebrate all of your team’s accomplishments with praise. You can even add the “Thank your colleagues” step to your work algorithms—let every project end with it. It’s easy to miss the moment when everyone is excited about the result, behind deadlines, edits, and doomscrolling. And if old methods of encouragement, like raises or salary increments, are not available yet, think of new ones. These can be a training event, a one-time bonus, or an exciting task.