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Improving employee engagement

Elizabeth Richards outlines why appointing an employee director and directors’ use of social media have particular relevance during COVID-19.

It is an ideal time for companies to find new ways to build closer relationships with their employees. Firstly, there is a lot to talk about. There may be advantages to temporary ways of working being made permanent; employees may be confused by the restrictions or feel more comfortable if they remain in place longer than is strictly necessary; or new business opportunities may have arisen as a result of COVID-19. Secondly, companies can show appreciation for the way employees have adapted by also demonstrating flexibility. Lastly, companies depend upon their employees having the resilience to keep going; but during COVID-19, employees may be feeling detached from their company and worried about their job security.

Accepting an employee director onto the board is a proportionate response to these challenges. It signals a step-change in attitudes, and it is a public acknowledgement that employees are central to the company’s success both during the crisis and beyond. Employees will have more confidence in decisions made by boards during COVID-19 if a peer has contributed to the process. Directors’ use of social media also signals unity as it increases the chance of connecting with a critical mass of employees. Doing more on social media is a low-cost way to modernise, democratise and boost morale.