Employee engagement within any business organization has always and remains a key aspect of overall success. And, it has taken on a new importance in our post-COVID world. Whereas COVID has not been declared a thing of the past by any means, it has been the basis for major changes. How an organization functions … how and where the needed work is accomplished … what employees demand and need from their leaders. These are all issues that have and will impact the extent and degree of employee engagement that exists in any organization.
Companies have been forced to evaluate and alter several aspects of doing business. Making certain that a top priority includes how to increase the reality of employee’s desire and drive to be enthusiastic, productive contributors has become foundational. Within a company it is felt that the engagement of employees was excellent in the past. However, in today’s changed environment … the new normal … it deserves and needs ‘front-burner’ evaluation and focus.
For the sake of clarity, employee engagement refers to the level of emotional commitment an employee has to their organization and the others within it. It is not about employee satisfaction or high salaries or being shown appreciation after completing a long day at work. Rather than this being a focus and issue related to human resources, it is actually a business one. Thus, it demands attention and is the job of upper management. It is management who must employ work methods and policies that further emotional connections between employees and the workplace.
There were several ways in which the pandemic affected employee engagement:
- A forced shift to remote work … something that remains at least part-time for a significant percentage of businesses.
- Isolation from co-workers and disconnected from the company’s mission was real
- Distractions at home have made it challenging to maintain consistent focus on work
- Distractions in the home environment
- From other family members also working remotely
- From children who return from school well before one’s workday is complete
- Furthered with actual or anticipated pay cuts
- Having a partner who has lost their job creates critical concern and worry
- Bringing meaningful stress into the lives of many
- The need to juggle things that simply were not an automatic part of one’s workday like juggling parenting and teaching responsibilities. The impact is on the employee’s accomplished work and the company’s bottom line.
According to a recent Gallup poll, two key realities were revealed:
- The extent to which employees are happy at their jobs really matters. Engaged employees work harder, put in longer hours and stick with a company longer which offers increased expertise and efficiency. These employees are more likely to go the extra mile for customers, drive teams to accomplish more and be mentors and train new employees.
- Companies who poll in the top 25 percent of organizations having engaged employees enjoy 21% higher profitability than those in the lowest 25%. This is of major significance Less engagement translates to working less, experiencing more workplace accidents and greater likelihood of leaving.
There appears to be little disagreement around the importance of seriously evaluating the current state of employee engagement in one’s organization. And, along with that, believe in the value of conducting a review of the extent to which your team is truly engaged for all the related benefits. Here are some areas worthy of evaluation and potential change:
- Focus on the company culture
A strong and positive culture improves morale and engagement and makes workers feel like their company cares about them. It builds and sustains both enthusiasm and optimism.
- Provide both growth and learning opportunities
Offering a culture that promotes continuous development helps build the skills needed for the employee to be successful in their job. However, it also communicates that the organization values that person and believes in their potential.
- Offer flexible schedules
The initial challenges that remote work carried have clearly been improved upon and employees do remember the advantages that working remotely included. Thus, developing a system of bringing various teams into the office together and not necessarily daily combines the best of both worlds. Productive efficiency of working with teammates while able to maintain the convenience and advantages of remote work is both beneficial and attractive.
- Timely recognitions
Employee appreciation is extremely important in our ‘new normal’ era. Providing time recognition will continue to remain one of the most motivating factors to drive engagement and commitment. Incentives and bonus programs impact one’s productivity. Recognition programs i.e. star of the month appreciating one’s effort reinforces bonding with the company and further motives employees to perform better and meet goals.
- Touch base with employees with periodic check-ins
Showing personal caring and interest in everyone goes a long way in building goodwill between you. Interest in how they are doing overall or what challenges they are experiencing will go a long way to build and maintain goodwill. It will also help the leader gain insight of changes they want to make that will have a positive effect on others as well.
As Gautam Kumar has expressed, modern workplace culture demands an innovative approach and flexible mindset. With time, employees have adapted themselves to the new ways of working and technologies. The key is to understand employee needs through constant engagement, feedback, conversations on managerial levels, better interpersonal communication, and driving a sense of belonging and call to action. By focusing on effective practices around employee satisfaction, wellness, and productivity, companies can nurture a sense of pride in their employees, which in turn will encourage them to contribute towards sustainable growth.
The pandemic disrupted life, but it also created an inflection point for organizations to redefine what they want to be and where they want to go. Organizations must seize this moment to transform ambiguity into opportunity across their work, workforce, and workplace. To succeed in the future of work, the time for change is now.
1.What Employee Engagement Looks Like In The New Normal Workplace –TenSpot
2. How To Build Employee Engagement In The ‘New Normal’ – Roy Lipton
3. The 2022 Guide To Employee Engagement – Gallop
4. 4 Tips To Increase Employee Engagement in the Organization – Gautam Kumar in Voices