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  • Writer's pictureCol.M.Rajgopal, TranscendOrg

Employee Engagement Rebooted

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs and are committed to the organization, and, consequently, apply discretionary effort to their work. Employee engagement is a popular topic of discussion for business leaders around the globe — and for good reason. Studies indicate that companies with engaged employees achieve greater productivity and higher profits than those with a less engaged staff.

According to a Gallup survey, disengaged employees account for 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability. When that translates into dollars, it means a loss of $3,400 for every $10,000 an employee makes! Despite this, many leaders do not know how to bridge the gap between disengaged and engaged employees. In fact, a study by Dale Carnegie reveals that only about 25% of business leaders have an employee engagement strategy.

According to a survey by Wrike across several countries, some of the reasons for an employee to be engaged are:

· Enjoyment of role and work ; challenge of the job

· Collaboration with co-workers, peer support, and a familial environment

· Understanding of how their work contributes towards the company’s success.

Top reasons as to why employees become disengaged are:

· Work effort goes unrecognized

· Impact of behavior of immediate supervisor/reporting manager

· Monetary reasons

· Burnout, poor work-life balance

· Unclear career path

We are almost midway into the 2020s, and a pandemic that has infected almost 7 million people world-wide has made us realize that nothing is permanent. Businesses have come to a standstill and, as per a World Bank report, the pandemic may push more than 60 million people globally into extreme poverty! It is devastating, but true.

In light of the same, organizations across the world are reworking their strategy so that the workforce stays engaged and productive. A Gartner survey revealed that nearly 50% of organizations reported that 81% or more of their employees are currently working remotely. The Gartner analysis also reveals that post-pandemic, almost 41% of employees are likely to continue to work remotely, for at least some more time. This leads us to believe that working remotely is going to become mainstream in the times to come. How does all this impact employee engagement?

Indeed, employee engagement has become an unprecedented challenge in this uncertain environment, where remote and seemingly isolated working has become the norm, and where stress as well as anxiety has permeated the ‘workplace’. In this context, organizations are evolving and introducing new engagement initiatives and also figuring out ways to measure their effectiveness. From hosting virtual sessions to virtual onboarding, managers are leveraging several techniques to connect with their team members whom they no longer meet in person, as frequently as they did earlier. In this contemporary reality, some of the measures that will have a substantial positive impact are enumerated below:

Communicate, Communicate & Communicate: Communication is very important while working from home. Regular conversations with colleagues go a long way in addressing the feeling of isolation, as well as detecting early signs of anxiety. Having regular video or audio calls, in addition to emails, can help one stay connected with the team. It is also a good idea to have discussions around health and safety so as to keep the staff updated about this important aspect. Periodical mailers/talks by the head of the organization will help keep people informed and connected. One can also host weekly virtual tea sessions or bring family members on board for virtual activities.

Emotional Well-being – A Precedence: Promoting well-being has never been more important than now. Employees experience a range of concerns around their mental and emotional well-being, especially about job security, salary cuts, EM I's as well as safety of their kith and kin. Regular check-ins with each employee, periodical info-graphics that keeps each person aware about good health, their jobs and related aspects will help alleviate some of the negative thoughts. The services of a professional counselor can also be kept on standby.

A cost effective yet simple option is companies using employee portals or intranet as an informal communication to throw challenges like decade look, childhood, plank challenge, yoga asana of the week, etc. If the first such post comes from the company’s Chairman/MD/CEO, throwing a challenge to another member of the organization – imagine the positive energy and impact it will generate. The best ones can be put up on social media platforms, which will help in promoting the organization brand as well. Similar initiatives could be put in place to lighten a stressed-out workplace.

New Competencies: Every organization is trying to restore normalcy and get back to operating the way things were before lockdowns. In this scenario, sometimes training takes a back seat. What organizations must realize is that this is exactly the time to train employees for a new set of desired competencies, that will make them professionally successful in the future. Competencies such as content writing for online initiatives,resilience, design thinking, systems approach and virtual leadership are necessary to meet the demands of the changing environment and to make organizations future-ready.

Executive Coaching – A Self-Reboot: Coaching is a wonderful developmental tool. While organizations should employ professional executive coaches to undertake online coaching, senior functionaries and line managers could also be trained to develop coaching competencies. In these testing times, it will be good to have a coach with whom one can bounce off thoughts, as well as someone who can guide the key staff to unclutter their thoughts and take meaningful action.

Emotional Intelligence: In these uncertain times, when employees are faced with workplace challenges that were unthinkable in the past, the support from their immediate supervisors is of paramount importance. In this context, Emotional Intelligence is a key trait that managers need to have. The ability to understand and, consequently, handle the mental and emotional state of the workforce will be essential. Organizations need to take necessary steps to inculcate EI, at least amongst the supervisory and managerial staff.

Employee engagement is all about employees having an emotional bond with the organization. Now, more than ever, driving employee engagement for enhanced productivity, has assumed tremendous importance. Premier HR consulting groups like Transcend Org can help organizations establish processes, protocols and systems that drive employee engagement.

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