By Trish Stromberg
Construction companies are having to adjust to unforeseen working conditions during COVID-19, which has resulted in a rapid shift to remote collaboration technology tools that enable those in non-physical labor roles to work remotely while maintaining clear lines of communication with their on-site counterparts.
Keeping contractors and project managers engaged with their teams has proven challenging. With fewer workers permitted onsite at any given time, increased stress levels resulting from project delays, and the changing routines and regulations that have come with the pandemic, construction companies must invest in the right resources/tools to help their teams cope, remain engaged, and maintain productivity.
Although employee engagement is always important, now is an especially critical time to take a closer look. A recent study by Leadership IQ found that 26 percent of employees are unhappy at their jobs right now, and only a quarter of respondents feel mentally resilient. To provide the flexibility and guidance employees need, HR policies should be adjusted appropriately to foster environments where employees feel heard, considered, and a sense of community.
Many organizations quickly created online guides or short tutorials for remote work on topics such as how to use online conferencing tools, how to manage time while juggling responsibilities at home, coping with isolation, etc. While this does provide leadership and demonstrates empathy, it’s critical to update guidance and continue the conversation on a regular basis. Here are six strategies to get started:
It may feel like professional milestones have gone out of the window. Still, part of helping employees adjust to a new work environment is establishing expectations for productivity and work performance. While this accountability is crucial, it can be tricky to strike the right tone. The best approach is to set performance expectations while providing employees flexibility in meeting them.
KEEP IT SOCIAL
During this period of uneasiness and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever for managers to use empathy in their leadership. Change is hard for most people, and the world is currently experiencing a great deal of it. In the absence of the proverbial water cooler or breaks on the jobsite, many organizations have created regular online events with their teams that have nothing to do with day-to-day work, such as virtual happy hours and poker games, etc., to make sure employees still feel like they are a part of the team.
Employees should have the freedom to meet outside of official virtual team meetings to further discuss projects using video conferencing and social collaboration tools. In these official meetings, determine when/if webcams are required to be on or whether it is optional. Employees can be sensitive about their work environment or appearance.
Even from home, it is still essential to continue to find ways to create frequent and meaningful connections with team members. Since spontaneous run-ins are no longer a reality, contractors and project managers should be deliberate in creating chances to check-in, even for small matters. It’s important to dedicate needed resources to help employees cope during this time because their sense of well-being will impact their ongoing level of engagement and productivity. These check-ins can also be used as a time to ask for feedback. Especially in this environment, soliciting and acting on employee ideas is important and a critical driver of employee engagement because it makes employees feel like their voice is being heard.
CREATE A HYBRID COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
It’s not enough to simply communicate more. Instead, construction companies must adopt a multifaceted communication strategy, including messaging apps, video conferencing, and texting. Many organizations have upped their game in this realm, and even as non-essential workers begin to return to the office, it remains critical for construction companies to have hybrid communication strategies and technologies in place in case additional waves of the COVID-19 virus emerge. If effectively implemented, these policies will allow employees to seamlessly return to remote work should the need arise again.
ADOPT A PEOPLE-FOCUSED SOLUTION
The opportunity to launch tools and software is endless in a remote work environment because it’s a business imperative to do so. Finding the right balance of technology to power end-to-end telecommuting is a task that should be personalized to each business. By adopting a people-focused solution, employers can ensure employees remain connected and in sync, no matter where they’re working. This technology handles back-office functions like HR, time tracking, payroll, benefits administration, compliance and safety training (including OSHA), and workforce management, as well as social-centric engagement functions. Employees can ask for help, praise one another and collaborate on projects from anywhere. Additional functions include learning management, compliance with all the latest regulations and support with HR to-dos and tasks.
While communicating during COVID-19 looks very different from before, leading with compassion and openness can go a long way in ensuring employees feel heard. It’s important to keep in mind that while sharing factual information with employees is extremely important, business leaders must work to serve their emotional needs as well. Utilizing the actions and communication strategies explained in this article will help employers maintain a healthy workplace culture that enables employees to do their best work. Incorporating new best practices now will add to the company’s bottom line tomorrow.
About the author:
Trish Stromberg is the chief marketing officer at iSolved HCM, leading the marketing and iSolved University teams with innovative brand positioning and exemplary customer experiences. For the past 20 years, Trish has refined her expertise across myriad aspects of marketing–demand generation, product launches, branding initiatives, and event management. For more, visit www.isolvedhcm.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, July 2020
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