Aytekin Tank, founder of JotForm, has crafted a useful column for Fast Company titled, "4 ways to ensure your team feels valued without in-person connections." Tank acknowledges that it can be very challenging for leaders to make team members feel valued when so many are working remotely, resources are scarce, and the stress is very high. The article notes that, "A recent Gallup report showed that only one in three U.S. workers 'strongly agreed' they received recognition for their work in the past seven days. Employees who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year." Given this reality, Tank offers four strategies for ensuring that team members feel valued.
GIVE YOUR TEAMS THE TOOLS THEY NEED: What technology, supplies, and other resources do your employees need to work effectively in a remote mode? Like a good coach, put your team members in the best position to thrive and win.
MAKE TIME TO LISTEN AND CONNECT: Keep up the informal check-ins with your employees. Don't just inform them about what you are doing or what the organization is planning. Make sure to listen to their concerns, questions, and needs. Open up about yourself a bit; let them see a different side, perhaps a bit about your personal/family situation. Letting them see you as human can be very important for connecting with them, and encouraging them to be candid with you.
INCREASE TRANSPARENCY: Provide regular updates on key initiatives and metrics. Be honest about the challenges facing the organization. Let them know exactly where things stand. If you don't have everything figured out in terms of plans for the coming months, that's ok. Let them know your decision-making process, how their input will be incorporated, and the criteria you will use to make final choices.
OFFER TANGIBLE REWARDS: You might not be able to offer bonuses or raises this year. What can you do to reward your employees? Tank suggests offering time off in the future (days that they can bank now for future use), or providing new professional development opportunities. Other forms of recognition and reward might include supporting causes about which the employees care a great deal, or perhaps providing paid time for team members to volunteer in the community.