It’s hard to think of another time when high employee engagement would be at such a premium. With the malicious tendrils of COVID snaking their way around every aspect of life, and the unintended diaspora to remote work, having committed and passionate teams is a life raft for so many organisations.
Often touted as a primary reason for overall success in companies, employee engagement is proven to boost retention, increase productivity and enrich that bottom line. In fact, Forbes even reported that disengaged employees in the U.S. cost companies $550 billion a year. Having the goals of your business and the ambitions of your workers align allows for tangible results. And it’s not about perks or salaries increases. Instead, engagement is about concrete behaviours that impact the very essence of a job.
But what are the key areas that companies need to address with fractured workforces? COVID has changed the rules. With less than a quarter of workers feeling truly engaged pre-pandemic, what does that mean now?
1. Trust and transparency
While the future continues to evolve, fostering a feeling of trust with your employees will form a solid foundation for engagement. According to a recent McKinsey report, ‘trust in leadership’ accounted for a 47.6% increase in engagement. So rather than hiding behind a smokescreen of indifference, it’s the managers who have been present and fully transparent about the situation that have garnered the best from their workers. Uncertainty lurks at every corner. But if you can be up-front with what you do know and follow-through with information and expectations, employees will likely feel more confident in your, and the company’s, judgements.
2. Support system
92% of employees believe that empathetic leaders are critical to retention and success. Engagement and empathy are inextricably synced. After all, if you want your team to invest and care about your organisation, surely you must do the same for them? Empathy may be a soft skill but it can pay dividends in terms of engagement. With workers dispersed and anxious about the effects of COVID, their job stability and wellbeing, it’s so important to be there for them. Show flexibility and understanding. Keep lines of communication firmly open. Check-in with your team regularly. Recognise their efforts and remind them of their valued purpose. It’s so easy to lose your way in unprecedented times, but the act of caring will always be reciprocal.
3. Learning and development
No-one wants to plateau, even during a global pandemic! Professional development is one of the most important ways to keep your team members engaged, even from afar. Chances to grow and thrive in a career are a must-have. It ensures that employees feel like they’re being invested in and that they are just as vital to the company as a profit margin. Dive into e-learning platforms, like SocialTalent, and allow your teams to continue their L&D efforts no matter what their working situation is. It fosters a sense of fulfillment and encourages employees to show up with passion and purpose. And remember, an engaged workforce has been reported to outperform competitors by 202%.
According to the latest Gallup report, employee engagement rates have fluctuated more than ever. Of course, it’s not surprising given the magnitude of unrest that 2020 has seen. And while COVID has caused some disastrous impacts on the working world, it has also taught us some core lessons. Most importantly, that we need to protect our most precious asset – human capital. Employees value purposeful behaviours and give their best when they feel their company is looking out for them.