The way many of us work has changed drastically over the last couple of months. Where we work and how we work is much different than what we expected. As a business owner and team leader, it’s important to do what you can to encourage working as close to normal as possible, and that includes maintaining your people investment strategies. Recognition and training programs are as important as ever, allowing your team to feel connected, valued, and involved in your organization. Financially speaking, not all organizations are in a position to spend like they used to, but investing in your team goes beyond dollars and cents.

When you have a team who are physically in the workplace, informal appreciation can occur almost naturally, through actions like chance meetings in the hallway or getting coffee in the break room. With a team that is working remotely or virtually, the recognition and training need to be purposeful and thoughtful, to show team members you’re still invested in them.

Recognition, in particular, helps to strengthen relationships and bonding, and builds a sense of trust between team members. Sharing recognition gives your team a sense of belonging. Having a sense of belonging releases positive energy, which allows your team to be more creative, productive, and connected to your organization’s vision. Recognition and training programs also help to reinforce the behaviours and values that your organization wants to continue. With isolation, team members are likely to be more disengaged, which may lead to low productivity. It’s more important than ever to teach and appropriately recognize the behaviours you want to continue when things when we navigate our way back to the workplace.

When it is possible, investing in the development of your team through ongoing training sends the message that your organization is planning to pull through this pandemic. Online courses and virtual conferences are more readily available than ever. Encouraging your team to take advantage of this opportunity to learn and strengthen their skills may result in an even stronger team when you re-integrate back to the workplace. It also shows that the fundamental commitment that your organization has towards team members, both long term and short term, has not changed. Your team can see that you continue to care about their work and wellbeing, even if they aren’t in their typical workplace.

With all of the changes that have happened recently, keeping your programs, policies and expectations as similar as possible to they were will provide a sense of security and routine for your team, which can help lowers levels of anxiety. Being in this remote workforce situation may tempt team leaders to cut back on employee development and training, but limiting these kinds of training opportunities could lead to disengagement, lower productivity and potential employee turnover in the long run. Your commitment to your team’s growth and development haven’t changed, and your team members will appreciate the consistency of expectations you put forth.

Remember, you’re not in this alone. Your team will look to you for answers, and it’s fine to say you don’t have them. The important thing is to be available and communicate frequently. If you need help, reach out to the HR team at RLB.