Enhancing employee engagement during COVID-19

COVID-19 is setting new challenges to the working environment. How can employees feel close to their company and culture while working remotely?

This post is adapted from its original article written by PayU CHRO Priya Cherian: “The redefined role of HR in a post-covid era.”


The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and introduction of social distancing measures this Spring forced companies and employees around the world to quickly adapt to working remotely – a development which caught many industries unprepared. While the tech and IT sectors have long embraced the idea of working remotely, other sectors needed to quickly adapt to create the infrastructure necessary for employees to work efficiently from home.



Overcoming the misconceptions of remote working

One reason remote working has been widely frowned upon for a long time is the misperception of its supposedly negative effects on productivity. Conversely, the new reality of working from home has brought light two positive aspects:


  • More focus:  Employees can aim their attention solely on their tasks due to a lack of distractions present in the office.


  • More time:  Time otherwise spent in commuting can now be invested more productively either in work or in leisure, resulting in a better work-life balance.


While these positive effects are quite encouraging, to fully adapt to remote working and keep negative effects to a minimum, HR departments must confront the challenge of maintaining employee engagement virtually.


Physical and social distancing should not translate to employees distancing themselves from the company’s culture. With this in mind, here’s a summary of the work-from-home initiatives we’ve started this year at PayU:



1. Maintaining employee engagement online

Like many companies, PayU uses Facebook’s Workplace platform as an important way to promote employee collaboration and communicate internally. To maintain employee engagement during COVID-19, multiple new communities have been created on our Workplace platform. Communities range from groups acting as information and resource hubs to our PayUneers sharing their personal COVID-19 experiences, both negative and positive. Be it venting frustration, sharing a new hobby, or motivating and supporting each other to uphold a healthy lifestyle, the main objective is to keep a constant flow of communication helping everyone feel more connected and less lonely.


One example is our Global Coffee Corner group. Among various interesting content, PayUneers can share their own experiences on very personal topics under #InItTogether. Here we can open up on topics such as the challenges of homeschooling, parenting during the pandemic, and moments of loneliness and boredom and how to overcome them: creating a bonding, supportive feel to this online community.



2. Walking the talk on employee mental health

At PayU our PayUneers come first. We recognize the importance of the physical and mental health, safety, and well-being of our employees and their families. Therefore an important step towards “walking this talk” was launching the Employee Assistance Programme.


The program offers counseling, legal and financial consultation, and crisis intervention services to all our PayUneers and their dependents. It is free of charge, strictly confidential, and can be used when facing emotional, financial, legal, or work-life concerns. This professional service is also designed to support employees to cope with the sudden changes to working lifestyles that this year’s lockdown measures have brought.



3. Enhancing employee wellbeing through “screen time off”

Short term measures as a response to the sudden changes caused by COVID-19 can be highly effective, but at PayU employee wellbeing is an important part of our long-term strategy. With screen-times reaching a new peak due to everything going virtual, employees are encouraged to work with their manager to decide on daily ‘screen time off’ – two hours during each day when employees shut all screens.



4. Increasing employee productivity through adapted performance management systems

Implemented revisions in our performance management system have resulted in a tremendous increase in productivity among PayU employees. 12-month goals are broken into quarterly objective and key results. These short-term OKRs give a clear line of sight into productivity measurement thus having positive effects on employee motivation.



We are all in this together

Maintaining a healthy balance between high productivity and well-being is a responsibility carried by both our leaders and our employees. Adapting to the new normal takes the constant implementation of new practices and initiatives ensuring employees at every level are well-equipped with softer professional skills such as teamwork, time management, ownership, and communication.



Further reading:

Humans of PayU: The Power of Sharing Personal Stories

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