I think we all agree, 2020 was a difficult year on many levels. Between the concerns of the pandemic, juggling remote learning responsibilities, and mounting political tensions, it was enough to make anyone stressed. Research has shown anxiety is cumulative and impacts employees in ways you might not expect, from mood to workplace performance to disengagement or even departure.
Providing ample support to your marketing operations team could be the difference in building a strong and healthy team or causing employees to look elsewhere. Keep in mind support may look a little different this year versus prior years, given that we’re all still navigating new routines and ever-changing conditions. That being said, as a seasoned leader who’s had more than my fair share of lessons learned and team successes, I offer you these tips to help your marketing operations team feel supported and productive in 2021.
Build Connection into your Team Culture
One of the more devastating impacts of the pandemic was social isolation. With COVID restrictions still in place in many areas, personal interaction limitations will continue for at least the foreseeable future. Many organizations have implemented virtual happy hours, but consider taking your cyber social gatherings to the next level.
Since Perkuto has always been a 100% virtual team, we’ve incorporated theme- and topic-based gatherings into our routine. Our new weekly employee “ask me anything” series, which allows employees to get to know each other in a fun, casual manner, is one of our more popular gatherings. Midday coffee breaks also offer opportunities for employees to connect, share details about their day, and know they are not alone. Look for opportunities to build staff connection into your schedule— it doesn’t have to be complex. Everyone wants to belong; enabling casual social interactions will boost employee morale and strengthen your team.
Recognize and Celebrate Contributions
With global uncertainty naturally comes professional and personal uncertainty. Amid the marketing job furloughs, layoffs, budget cuts, and hiring freezes, many employees were left wondering if they were next. Though much of the fallout has settled down, your marketing operations team may still need extra assurance they are valued and appreciated. As the team leader, you should initiate the charge.
Nothing builds self-esteem like authentic praise, positive feedback, and yes, even tangible rewards. At Perkuto, we promoted nine employees this past Fall, recognizing their professional growth and contributions during a difficult and demanding period.
Celebrating wins— no matter how big or how small— also helps to meet employee esteem needs. Giving shoutouts at team meetings, on public communication channels (Slack, LinkedIn) or a written note snail-mailed can really boost an employee’s mood. According to research, 66% of employees will leave their jobs if they don’t feel appreciated, and for millennials, that number leaps to 76%.
If recognition doesn’t come easy for you, look for opportunities to tell your staff they are important. Schedule time on your calendar if you need to, but as the leader, positive feedback from you goes a long way. With a shortage of marketing operations talent, you don’t want your team members jumping ship. Let them know you appreciate them and the work they do— and if you need more ideas, check out Bob Nelson’s book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees.
See the Person, Not Just the Employee
We often talk about separating our personal lives from work, but let’s be honest…how realistic is that anyway? This past year especially forced the two to merge. We saw our client and partner Zoom meetings shift from tidy corporate office spaces to personal living rooms, kitchens, and home offices. Employee homelife was more transparent too, as staff balanced caring for young children while monitoring local restrictions and public closures. And the impact of it all? MetLife’s 18th Annual US Employee Benefit Trends Study 2020 found that 2 out of 3 employees were feeling more stressed from the pandemic, women especially. That same study also recommends organizations take a holistic approach to better support employees, incorporating mental, financial, social, and physical health.
If you haven’t started seeing your employees as moms, dads, someone’s significant other, son or daughter, now is the time. Our mission at Perkuto is to create a better workplace. For us, that means flexibility in work schedules to balance work / life responsibilities, time off as needed, and most recently, a virtual gym membership. We’ve also launched a variety of new Slack channels, to allow employees to share parenting and educational resources as they navigate remote education for their children. Even the simplest of efforts can go a long way; the important thing is to acknowledge (and address) the human needs of your staff, holistically.
And if you need more convincing, a study from the HAAS School of Business at UC Berkeley found that employees who feel like people around them genuinely care are 43% more effective and productive. From our own experience, we know too, that happy employees make happy clients— it’s a ripple effect when employees feel good about themselves, the work they do, and the impact they have.
Be a Brand Employees Can Be Proud Of
Everyone wants to be part of an organization that is moving forward as well as one that is making a positive impact on their community. In fact, 71% of employees surveyed say a work culture supportive of giving and volunteering is imperative or very important. What is your company doing to make a positive impact?
Our staff is passionate about social responsibility and this past year, we saw our employees and their families give generously. From participating in peaceful Black Lives Matter protests to supporting COVID relief efforts, enabling employees to volunteer for a cause important to them makes them feel good about themselves, those they are serving, and where they work.
Let’s not overlook financial contributions either. I also have to give special kudos to Scott Brinker, who launched The MarTech Show in Fall of 2020, using his influence to provide great content to the MarTech community and donate thousands to a variety of charities via show sponsors. Amazon too has been extremely proactive during the pandemic, donating laptops and millions of dollars to support students in underserved communities. And most recently, Amazon donated an astounding $10 billion dollars to fight climate control— this one is especially near and dear to our Perkuto hearts, as we too, seek to protect our natural surroundings and reduce our carbon footprint. My point with all this: winning brands attract top talent; be a brand your employees can be proud of.
Encourage Feedback and Continuously Improve
Although the challenges of this past year have been considerable, so are the opportunities. I’ve come to learn that any situation is what we make of it— we either get the result we want or the lesson we need at the time. This includes employee feedback and fostering an environment of open communication. Of course, how you gather feedback varies by organization, influenced by size and structure. At Perkuto, we use OfficeVibe to encourage employee engagement, comments, and measure satisfaction. I attribute much of Perkuto’s growth to the employee input and feedback we’ve received over the years. And, when employees feel like they have a voice and they are heard, it keeps the lines of communication open and a feeling of transparency (also one of our core values) company-wide— a win for everyone involved.