Article

Thoughts from HR: 3 effective ways to support your employees during COVID-19

By Sarah Manning, Senior HR Director, EMEA

Published April 28, 2020
Last modified April 28, 2020

Employees expect the same clear communications from their employer as they do from their favorite brands. That’s why it is now more important than ever for HR teams to make staff feel supported and to offer them the resources they need to continue do their job. There are 3 important ways in which HR teams can play a key role in achieving this.

1. Open conversations and humane communications

It is incredibly important to give updates as much as possible, so employees feel they have the necessary support. Following that, HR teams need to make sure they are able to respond to feedback as well. Don’t underestimate the anxiety that unanswered questions will cause for an employee. COVID-19 has definitely made the biggest impact on the absolute imperative of communication: Clear, concise, transparent communication.

Outgoing communications don’t only need to be transparent, but also empathetic. Teams are struggling with balancing personal and work priorities while adjusting to working from home. Many are worried about the long-term impact of this pandemic on our economies and their own livelihoods - something that is, of course, very personal to them. HR deals with different types of questions and concerns and the key is to tackle each one of them in a caring way that recognises this context. But being empathetic with yourself is of equal importance. We are all learning as we go and as long as our main goal is to take care of ourselves, and our teams, we’re definitely on the right track.

2. Empower your remote workforce

We know that empowered employees require less supervision and work more efficiently. They also feel more creative which leads to autonomous decision making and being overall good team players. However, making sure your team feels empowered might be more difficult when remote working is involved.

It is important for employees to feel like they are still part of a tight-knit working environment while working remotely. This can be done by setting up communities for teams to engage with co-workers beyond day-to-day tasks. At Zendesk we use Slack channels to share our ‘work from home’ lives and bring people together - we have set up everything from cooking channels to WFH pics and a morning highlights channel... just to have that feeling that we’re in this together. An internal helpdesk is another way to meet expectations and keep connected. Our recent research, done in partnership with Culture Amp, has shown that companies who use Zendesk as an internal helpdesk are 11% more likely to have employees who are engaged.

3. Give employees the right tools to do their job efficiently

Communicating is essential right now, but offering employees the right tools to get the information they need during these uncertain times is equally important. Employees need to be able to do their job swiftly and without any obstacles. Tesco is a great example of this - by using Zendesk Support and Guide they managed to resolve 79% of internal tickets in one touch. The help centre allows teams to contribute and share knowledge which has proved to be very popular as Tesco employees now view about 30,000 articles a week.

Realistically, every employee in a company is going to have a point when they need information from their employer - whether it’s about holiday policies, benefits, online learning tools or an IT support request. With that kind of volume, especially for companies with large and dispersed teams, it is crucial to be able to empower employees with the resources to access information as and when they need it.

Supporting your employees should be one of the key goals for any company today. You not only outperform employee expectations but satisfy customer’s expectations as well. After all, happy employees lead to happier customers. HR plays a central role in making sure that everyone at the company can feel supported; and by communicating transparently, empowering people and giving them the right tools, your teams are set up for future success.

To learn more about best practices on scaling your employee support, check out these additional resources: