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Gartner Inc. listed six initiatives that HR managers can take to maintain employee performance and engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic. It noted the pandemic is having a significant impact on personal and work lives and can lead to employee anxiety, frustration and burnout, all of which can impact productivity.

The six specific activities that HR should take to ensure employees get the needed support to help with their emotional responses are:

Sense employees’ need for support. Managers need to recognize signs of distress among their people, both directly through conversations and indirectly through observation. HR should provide managers with guidance.

Promote dialogue to build understanding. To ensure communication efforts help engagement, rather than hurt it, managers must have a two-way dialogue with employees. HR leaders should help managers create opportunities for two-way dialogues that focus on a realistic picture of both the positive and negative implications of the current Covid-19 outbreak.

Use objectives to create clarity. HR leaders can help managers reassert the link between employees’ work and organizational success. “One of the top engagement drivers for employees is seeing their work contribute to company goals,” said Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice. “Employees who feel confident about the importance of their job to the success of the organization feel less anxious about their job security.”

Reinforce organization values to reduce the likelihood of misconduct. Apart from modeling the right behaviors, managers should encourage whistleblowers to call out unethical behaviors, remind staff of the channels for reporting misconduct, and highlight what happens in case of noncompliance.

Tailor recognition to acknowledge employee efforts. Managers must redouble their employee recognition efforts. The recognition does not necessarily need to be monetary.

Drive engagement via innovation. While managers and employees may understandably become more risk-averse in this uncertain environment, it is these times of change and disruption that innovation and risk-taking become even more important for employee engagement and organizational success.

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