A living labs case study Staying the Course:
Keeping Employees Connected and Engaged for the Long Haul

We’re now well into the COVID-19 pandemic and we have entered a different phase.

Most people have moved beyond the initial shock of the situation and worked out most details of setting up at home. Now, reality has settled in—and people are becoming weary.

As waves of uncertainly crash over their employees, stalwart leaders will navigate true by creating organizational cultures that support employees during times of crisis and bypass burnout when we face an emergency or not.

As Eagle Hill has worked through our own COVID-19 response, we’ve drawn on the strength of our award-winning culture and change management expertise to support employees through what’s proving to be a drawn-out, evolving challenge. Keeping our people connected and engaged keeps them secure in our ability to weather the crisis (and keep them OK) in the long term.

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45 percent of employees are experiencing burnout. 1 in 4 attribute their burnout to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Only 1 in 3 say that their employers are increasing flexibility while just 1 in 4 say communications are improving.

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Not surprisingly, about half of employees say they feel less connected to colleagues and less productive.

source: EAGLE HILL CONSULTING

5 Steps for Reaching Long-term Employee Engagement

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Follow your true north

Early on, Eagle Hill made the commitment to our core values to shape our every action in response to the crisis, and to do so in a way that stays true to what we as a company have always held dear. We started by creating a vision, to stay our constant guide throughout the crisis. Amid the uncertainty of COVID-19, the vision cuts through “the fog” and allows us to navigate unforeseen shoals.

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The vision shapes how we organize and communicate information so employees who may feel adrift, get solid direction.
One of our core values is family. Our vision for navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic includes clear direction that family comes first.
Our CEO and leadership team send videos to all staff while on walks and with family—modeling Eagle Hill’s values of family and fun.
Team leads reinforce that understanding by modeling the frank openness leadership has shown within their own teams.
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Keep your eyes on the horizon

At Eagle Hill, we’re practical optimists. We hope for the best, but we planned for the worst. Weeks before official orders came to shut offices down, we looked far out and then planned even further. Eagle Hill anticipated very long closures and planned accordingly. Of course, we also considered how we eventually will ramp up again when normalcy returns.

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Our crisis team walked through each project, mapping out the current state and built not just a worst-case scenario, but an every-case scenario for each.
We scenario-planned by visualizing the impacts on our business and people, then worked through the steps we would take to weather numerous scenarios.
We developed plans for potential intermittent start/stops and for hotspot flares in one geographic area that do not affect other offices.
Moreover, we keep all our employees and clients abreast of our plans as they evolve.
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Monitor Morale

Eagle Hill recognizes COVID-19 for what it is—the mother of all change management challenges. And we know that to see our way through successfully, we have to bring our people along. Central to our success has been an emphasis on protecting our interpersonal connections and a commitment to honesty and authenticity, from the top down.

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Where we used to connect as an entire company once a week for an open conversation with leadership, now we have doubled the frequency of our engagement.
We take anonymous questions from staff throughout the week and our chief addresses every single one (even the sticky ones about finances and job security) at our virtual companywide weekly meetings.
We admit when we don’t have complete answers and give at least point-in-time pictures of our solutions or plans.
We pulse employees to get a sense of their ongoing experiences and mindsets, then create word clouds to inform what we discuss in our meetings.
Our teams hold daily stand-up meetings to check in and connect.
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Captain your ship

As with any monumental change challenge, our leadership knows to keep a very firm hand at the helm. That’s why Eagle Hill leadership has taken such a high-touch approach in communicating the impacts of the transitions the organization is going through. We want our employees to see consistency in how they are treated and genuine care for their well-being.

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Continually our leadership team has communicated their steadfast beliefs that this is a challenge, but Eagle Hill as a whole is in it together.
We emphasize the expectation that while no one can operate as normal during the pandemic—everyone can work toward the priorities laid out in the vision.
We keep our people involved by asking what they can do to help us come out ok.
Our leadership has communicated their expectation from the first that a 9-5 schedule will not work for everyone during these times.
We ask what supports our employees need and have provided a central repository of resources, including: physical and mental health, emotional wellness, operating procedures, IT support, a community for working parents, and even birthdays, projects spotlights, and links to how to help in the community.
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Stow the wisdom of your experience.

At some point, hopefully not too far in the future, our corporate ship will return to safe harbor. Rather than simply picking up where we left off when that happens, Eagle Hill has already begun taking inventory of what we don’t want to leave behind from this experience.

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Maintaining connections

To maintain a cohesive culture, we plan to continue a series of short, informal videos with positive messages from leadership

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Building camaraderie

Daily team stand-ups, no matter how brief, have helped build a stronger sense of team for many employees than they had even before the crisis.

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Learning together

To get people up to speed quickly on a new collaboration tool, we hosted a series of light-hearted competitions that required employees to learn features of the platform in order to compete.

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Reinforcing our values

Above all, we will hold tight to the lessons we've learned about empathy for each other. For Eagle Hill, weathering this crisis together has been an opportunity to build closeness and reinforce our values. In that regard, Eagle Hill already feels stronger and better prepared for however future winds blow.

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To do:

Eagle Hill is already helping clients reach long-term employee engagement.

Want to learn more? Let us send you the full case study.