Lockdowns in many countries leading to most employees working from home, has created an unfamiliar terrain for most managers and leaders. While they have had to figure out how to keep the business on track, they are also very worried about how to manage their employees in this new scenario.
How do you keep employees engaged and motivated in the midst of the uncertainty? The fact that you can’t just walk up to someone for an informal conversation to “test” their mood”, is also an issue.
I noticed a very unusual trend when I spoke to managers, leaders and employees over the last few weeks.
Most employees told me that they are significantly busier with work than before the crisis hit! Not just because they had to work harder at staying connected and getting things done, but because they just had more work. They felt that priorities that were planned for later in the year have been pulled in. Also, there are significantly more number of meetings with more than 4 participants.
I talked to leaders and managers about this. A number of them were candid about the reason why this was happening. They believed that the uncertainty was difficult for their teams. Their teams had started to worry. Productivity was dropping. To address this, a number of leaders intentionally (and some leaders unintentionally) filled their team’s plate with “busy” work. Their belief is that if the teams are busy, they will feel secure and this will result in them being engaged and productive.
That finding was a very big surprise!
So has Busyness become the new engagement tool in these times?
I have heard anecdotes in the past of keeping high performing employees super busy, so that they don’t have time to apply or interview for new roles. But this is the first time I have heard of Busyness as an engagement tool.
I wonder if this is a new trend we will see going forward….