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Let’s face it: a lockdown isn’t an ideal situation for anybody. But businesses in particular are feeling the strain in more ways than one. As well as loss of clients and revenue, many businesses are also at risk of losing some of their best staff.

Some companies will undoubtedly be forced to let employees go, if they haven’t already – that’s just an unfortunate fact of the situation we find ourselves in. Of course, you’ll obviously want to avoid losing your top talent if at all possible. But from the pressures of lockdown and working from home to a sense of job security anxiety, there are several factors that might contribute to the worst-case scenario – that is, your best staff slipping out of your grasp.

To help you and your business make it through the COVID-19 pandemic intact, we’ve put together some tips below (and shared some of the things we’ve done) to retain your best talent during a lockdown situation.

1. Be the leader you’d want to be led by

Strong leadership has never been more important than it is right now. Just as countries around the world are depending on their leaders to get them through the current crisis, businesses are depending on their managers and team leaders to light the way forward in these uncertain times.

We’ve all seen what can happen when a country’s leadership is less than stellar. Many of its citizens become distrustful and afraid, losing confidence in their leader and their country itself. In situations like the COVID pandemic, they don’t have the option to jump ship and move to another country where they’d feel safer or more valued but in the workplace world, employees do have the option to move to a different company. And if they’re feeling unsure enough, they might just take it.

The best way to head off this undesirable outcome and hold on to your best talent is simple: you need to provide the strongest possible leadership for your employees. Think of the kind of person you would trust to lead you through tough times (whether from a governmental or business standpoint). Then try your best to emulate them.

In our team we have tried to lead with clarity, compassion and honesty. One thing you could try that has worked for us is to implemented daily zoom calls to stay connected.

2. Make use of government assistance and/or outplacement

The government has put measures in place to ensure as many Australians as possible can keep their jobs. To avoid having to let staff go permanently, and to ensure you can bring them back to work as soon as it’s feasible, see if you’re eligible for subsidies like the JobKeeper scheme that will help you retain staff you aren’t able to keep at work right now.

In the unfortunate case that you do have to let go of some employees, consider utilising outplacement services to assist in their transition to new roles. Not only does this help out your previous employees, it also gives your remaining talent (and future staff) confidence in your commitment and ability to support workers through difficult times.

3. Communicate clearly and openly

Clear, open communication is always a key part of a positive employer-employee relationship, but never more so than in a crisis situation. Now more than ever, it’s absolutely vital to welcome dialogue and discussion, and keep channels of communication open.

You might not be able to sit down for face-to-face meetings with your team members right now, but emails, instant messages, video chats and good old-fashioned phone calls are great ways to keep everyone in the loop. Talking things through helps you navigate the options available to you and your employees in a difficult situation, ensuring the most favourable outcomes for everyone involved. And as your company settles into its ‘new normal’, regular communication and updates are essential to ensure everyone is on the same page and reassure your team that you’ve got things under control.

As well as replacing your regular in-person discussions with calls and Zoom meetings, try things like communicating via workplace apps like Slack, and sending out weekly email updates or newsletters to keep everyone abreast of what’s happening. (See below for some tips on the more social side of workplace communications!)

Open communication is an important part of our management style at GWG. Throughout the pandemic we’ve provided regular and very honest updates of business operations, sales and govt changes that impact the organisation. Rather than keep our employees in the dark we feel its critical to be open and clear about the companies position, our expectations and our future goals so we can all work together to achieve them.

4. Keep existing staff motivated and engaged

With most people now working from home wherever possible, employees may be experiencing a certain sense of distance and isolation from their company and coworkers. It can be hard for even the most diligent employee to stay motivated and engaged in this situation, so it’s important for you to step in wherever you can to help out.

As we mentioned above, communication is key. Set clear expectations for your staff and ensure they feel comfortable coming to you with any problems they may have. Do everything you can to encourage a healthy work-life balance (which can be difficult to achieve when the boundaries between work and home are blurred). The happier and healthier your employees are, the more motivated and productive they’ll be while working remotely.

Many employees thrive on a sense of community within the workplace. While typical team-building activities or social engagements won’t be on the cards for the foreseeable future, you can still facilitate things like virtual after-work drinks and coffee breaks, or even fun activities like Zoom trivia or games nights.

We open the ZOOM Bar on Friday afternoons.. its got us through some of the more isolated weeks 🙂

5. Add the personal touch

Times are tough for everybody right now. Chances are that some, if not all of your employees are going to find themselves struggling at one point or another during lockdown. And while you might think there’s not a whole lot you can do to help, you’d be surprised how effective a simple gesture of understanding and care can be.

Ask staff how they are feeling. If they’re struggling, ask what you can do to help. Find out if there’s anything they need to change about their current work situation to ensure that they’re able to work to the best of their ability, and that their mental and physical health are taken care of.

Most of all, ensure your staff know they are appreciated. Caring for your staff and showing them they are valued will help you keep your best and brightest on board throughout lockdown and beyond.

Keep an eye on the GWG blog throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for more tips on navigating the new business world we live in. And if you need assistance with recruitment or outplacement, don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out how we can help.

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