The pandemic has forced the type of workplace change that would have taken years to happen: working remotely, re thinking about the business travel and moving in person training to virtual. As we are approaching the end of 2021, the workplace, how we work, where we work and the technologies we use to stay connected to the team members and customers have changed forever. The new style of work has become the next normal of working remotely, learning and collaborating online and engaging the people in the workplace.
Disengagement can cause a lot of damage to a company’s productivity giving the HR teams an opportunity to spark a positive change. Low employee engagement remains a consistent problem for companies of all sizes around the world. A study found that just 15% of the adults in full-time employment are actually ‘engaged’ at work where engaged means being highly involved and enthusiastic about their work.
Most often, it’s the HR teams who are tasked with measuring and solving the employee engagement problems. Here are seven ways that HR professionals can bring in to better engage the employees with their work and in the organisation.
If there is high engagement and low wellbeing, then there is a risk of burnout over a period of time. So, it is necessary to take steps to in order to create a healthy workplace – for example introducing an EAP (employee assistance programme), training people for first aid of mental health and promoting healthy eating and exercise. All of these can help in improving staff wellbeing which in turn helps in having much more engaged employees. But you have to take a look at the organisation’s culture and the behaviours what it expects from the employees to demonstrate, like a long hours culture where people often stay late, either to cope with the high workloads or with a well intentioned but a misguided attempt to project their commitment. You have to carry out your own research into the causes of mental and physical ill health in your company and then take the appropriate measures to tackle the issues uncovered.
As the companies grow, the ties that bind the workers can loosen and weaken. The departments can start working in isolation and the staff becomes disconnected from their colleagues. So, you need to have a dedicated internal communications team to take charge of the company communications.
You need to start communicating news intentionally wherever your employees are spending their time – be it digitally or physically. Simple steps like making use of the intranet or putting up posters in the shared spaces help keep people in the loop with what’s going on, whether that’s a change in your HR policies or a good news about a client.
Managers working remotely have to be even more intentional about their communications. You need to encourage them to make full use of the chosen digital tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and schedule regular meetings with their direct reports and management partners.
When an organisation’s purpose and vision is clearly defined and also ‘lived’ by the senior leaders, employees will buy in to the company’s mission completely and clearly understand how projects are aligned to it’s overall goals. Are the attributes you look for in the new hires aligned to your company’s mission and values? Are the organisational values measured through the appraisal process you have in place? Can the rewards and recognition be aligned much more closely to the goals you have set?
One of the four enablers of engagement is the employee voice. Their views are sought, listened to and acted upon by the senior leaders and managers. The technology makes it easier for the employers to regularly seek and collate feedback from the employee like through online surveys. However, introducing such tools may have very little impact if the leaders don’t give merit to the opinions expressed by the staff and don’t respond to their views. This might need a change in the culture that your company isn’t ready for yet, so you have to think carefully about when, how and why you might want to create the formal feedback channels.
When micromanaging people becomes the norm, then employee engagement comes under threat. The employee’s enthusiasm and creativity will go down by constant correction and negative feedbacks. The workflows will become stifled by the managers who act as roadblocks and ultimately, retention will suffer.
The way out for this is to empower, support and trust the employees to work autonomously and refer back to you only if they need more guidance. If you see micromanagement in action, as an HR professional speak to the manager in question. Help them in understanding the consequences of their style of management and help them develop an action plan to trust and delegate more power to their employees. You can also help them in identifying the staff development opportunities and put in place the appropriate courses.
Does your company willingly, regularly and publicly recognise and reward its people for their good work? Even if some of the leaders thank their staff for their efforts, there’s always more to be done – at all the levels of the organisation. Putting in place digital channels through which the staff can thank and appreciate each other for going the extra mile or introducing an incentive based scheme or awards programme are great ways of cultivating a culture of thanking and recognizing publicly.
As work from home has become the next normal, employee experience is more important than ever as companies realize that physical, cultural and technological aspects of working have changed. As Covid-19 swept the entire globe, there has been one significant change to focus on the employee experience and engagement. Companies are rethinking about the employee experience and engagement to include the entire family of the employee.
Many employees in today’s job market feel uninspired by their work, get bored after sometime and start hunting for a new job. This quick turnover drains the companies, both financially and creatively. Apart from the financial loss, employee turnover puts a ceiling on the quality of an individual’s work or a team. So, employee engagement is very essential for the business to thrive and in order to achieve that the above points need to be kept in mind and followed for the benefit of both the employee and the employer.
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