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5 Ways to Keep Your At-Home Workers Engaged During COVID-19 Outbreak

Being a good corporate citizen, you have sent those employees who can work from home to what may be a completely different situation for many. This scenario is not to be confused with those sent home due to lack of work that you are not compensating. If those are non-exempt, there are ramifications for both payment of hours if you engage them and possibly their unemployment eligibility.

Let’s talk about those sent home to continue working who you continue to pay

Some employees will be thrilled with working from home. Some will be paralyzed with fear or lack of information that they truly understand. Some will miss the conviviality and access to coworkers. What can you do to keep these trained and valuable components of your workforce productive, engaged, and committed to your organization?

1)  Set Clear Expectations

This may be a new scenario. Let them know what volume, work hours and quality of work is expected while they are at home.

2) Provide Resources

  • Technology support including emergency phone numbers and hours of access
  • Management support access and back up
  • Consider giving them contact information of other team members, with their permission

3) Daily Engagement

  • Consider a daily team call to touch base and keep everyone involved, discuss issues, and do something a little fun
  • If feasible, and if time permits, assign daily or weekly training goals, especially if you have online training. You may also be able to do 10 to 20-minute trainings online through Teams and screen sharing
  • Do a daily work-related puzzle or question. Make it a contest with a small prize. To keep a connection between employees, put them on teams
  • For smaller teams, do individual calls at least weekly
  • Invite employees to share their coping strategies as they deal with at home children, cooking meals, and pets that want to play

4) Keep Your Employees Informed

  • Do not comment on the coronavirus unless you are truly an expert in the field. If you pass on information, use reliable sources like the CDC. There is a lot of misinterpretation of information out there. Don’t add to it.
  • Do keep employees informed of what is going on with your company’s response and how it affects them. Consider making a list of frequently asked questions. The goal is to reduce employee anxiety.
  • Absent a reliable source of information, your employees will fill in the blanks with speculation. Avoid this by being as transparent as you can and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know or that something is an evolving situation.
  • Your employees are likely your most valuable resource. Take care to make sure they know you value them and that they are an integral part of your company. Use this time to do those things we often put off to being too busy- recognize, develop, and build better relationships.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at

About the Author

Deborah Powell is an accomplished HR Generalist with 30+ years of experience in consulting, banking, manufacturing, and services industries. As a senior-level HR leader, Deborah has extensive experience in developing and implementing HR strategies that support broader business objectives, including re-structuring and down-sizing initiatives, acquisitions and divestitures, talent management, employee engagement, compensation and benefit initiatives, change management, performance management systems, diversity, recognition programs, union avoidance, and labor relations. She has worked in both domestic and global organizations and has served as an effective coach and mentor to both line executives and HR professionals alike.