Keeping Work From Home Staffers Engaged Tests Advisors' Leadership
David Berman, a certified financial planner in Timonium, Md., manages 24 employees — 19 of whom are currently working remotely. In February, he and the firm's other co-founder, Joseph McAleer, formed a committee of staffers to propose ideas to keep everyone connected. Results include sharing recipes on the firm's intranet and enrolling in fitness and meditation programs led by a virtual trainer. Roughly 20% of employees' compensation at Berman's firm flows from quarterly bonuses tied to its revenue. Recognizing that some employees may face a cash flow crunch, Berman decided to accelerate the payment of their second-quarter bonus rather than wait until late June.
Berman has taken other morale-boosting steps as well, including offering to pay for upgrades to employees' home internet connections and cover the bill for a life coach for any team member experiencing anxiety and seeking expert guidance. When you supervise people in the next room, you can praise them as you meet in the hallway. But absent these casual face-to-face encounters, communicating your admiration for their performance becomes harder.
Jeffrey Filimon, a certified 401(k) professional who consults with advisors around the country, recommends that they send lunch to an employee's home as a sign of appreciation for their efforts. He also suggests that advisors hold a "virtual coffee break" every morning for about 15 minutes, allowing staffers to interact freely before plunging into their workday. To bring far-flung groups even closer, he says advisors can throw a movie party over the weekend where everyone watches the same film from home. "It's also important that you continue to communicate your goals and expectations," Filimon said. "You have to trust that your employees are responsible and continue to encourage ownership of their job responsibilities and how important their role is to the firm."
Investor's Business Daily, May 29, 2020