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Managing Employee Performance During COVID-19

Published July 09, 2020 (last updated February 24, 2021) -

During the COVID-19 crisis, an increasing number of businesses have made the transition to remote work, either due to state regulations or due to a desire to protect employees and customers as much as possible. Not only that, many of your employees likely have unique needs and concerns: worries about potential job loss, concerns about infection, mental health concerns, or even friends and family members who may already have suffered from the virus. Managing employee performance during COVID-19 is more complex than ever before.

Pay Particular Attention to Employee Engagement

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, even as employee overall wellness has dropped to a twelve-year low, employees are more engaged than ever. Many of them are more committed to their jobs and their employers, care more about their companies, and are eager to invest more creative energy in their efforts. Rising employee engagement may be due in part to high levels of unemployment and the desire for employees to keep their jobs. It may also, however, come from company response to the current crisis.

In the midst of the pandemic, employers have had the opportunity to show how much they really care about their employees, their markets, and their communities. Your response to the current crisis has helped shape employee engagement, potentially for years. If your employees aren’t engaged, you, as a manager, need to take a close look at why–and determine how you can alter what your business is offering to make it more attractive and engaging to those employees.

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Consider Your Performance Reviews

As the crisis continues to develop, you may have many employees coming up for their annual reviews. Those performance reviews can have a big impact on their future with your company.

Should you conduct them?

For many employers, those performance reviews can provide a valuable benchmark, not only for overall employee performance, but for how employees are handling the current crisis. Adapt your performance review structure to be sure that you take the crisis into account. Make sure you know what challenges employees are dealing with and how it might impact their performance. Reward employees who have excelled during this time and offer encouragement and suggestions to those who have struggled with the transitions in front of them. Try to keep those interactions as positive as possible, even for employees who may have had difficulty with the transition.

Keep an Eye on the Company’s Future

Both managers and employers have discovered a great deal about remote work in the midst of the current crisis. While the daily experience of working from home has altered many perceptions of how working from home would work long-term, 53% of employees would still like to work from home as much as possible, even as restrictions ease. Not only that, many management teams have discovered that employees can accomplish just as much–or, in some cases, more–remotely as they can from the office.

As you manage your employees’ performance, carefully consider what the future of your company will look like. How will these latest changes and transitions impact the way you do business in the future? Many management teams predict a permanent shift in many of their operations. As you manage your employees, keep an eye on the company’s future, and carefully consider how your current employees and processes will fit into that new normal. Ask for regular employee feedback and make alterations accordingly. Many of these changes are here to stay, and keeping up with employee needs can help enhance performance, not only in the midst of the crisis, but in the future, as well.

Communicate Extensively

Throughout the crisis, it’s critical to keep communicating with your employees. Not only do they need a clear explanation for what’s expected of them–potentially even clearer than before, since you can no longer step into an employee’s office to offer immediate feedback and create small changes–you need to carefully listen to the challenges your employees are dealing with. Do you have employees who are struggling to work from home? Employees who need more guidance or assistance? Do your employees need to check in with you more often? While you do not want those communications to become overwhelming, you do want to provide clear guidance for those employees. Employees cannot complete or be held responsible for what they do not know about. Likewise, your employees need to know how to get in touch with you to communicate their changing needs.

Managing employees during COVID-19 presents some unique challenges, but it can also be uniquely rewarding. During this time, your business has the opportunity to connect with employees as never before. By managing them properly, you can ultimately experience the benefits and growth offered by this unique period.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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