5 Ways To Boost Employee Engagement
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The Importance Of Boosting Employee Engagement During Disruptive Times

In recent months, the way the world worked has undergone a sea change. What hasn’t changed though is the fact that employees continue to remain the most important asset of a company. As the COVID-19 pandemic brought about massive business transformations, companies had to count more on the dedication, energy and, most importantly, engagement of their employees. While employee engagement has always been a dominant factor for companies, it has assumed increased importance during these disruptive times.

In early May, a few months after the pandemic had swept the corporate world off its feet, a Gallup poll brought some good news on the employee engagement front. It found that the percentage of "engaged" workers in the US had reached 38%, which is the highest since Gallup began tracking the metric in 2000. Research by Willis Towers Watson around the time also echoed similar thoughts, showing that 84% of companies believed their employee engagement had gone up. Unfortunately, this happiness did not last long. Just within a month, in June, another Gallup poll showed a drop in the figures revealing that now just 31% of the working population was engaged.

While there may have been minor drops in employee engagement levels in the past, owing to some tough times (recessions, 9/11, etc.), this time, the seven-percentage-point drop was considered to be a record. The pandemic has had an overwhelming effect on the lives of global employees, leading to anxiety, burnout, and frustration. It’s about time businesses address the issue of engagement if they wish to boost employee productivity, and in turn, their own output.

Here are 5 ways in which organizations can boost employee engagement, especially in a disruptive work environment.

1. Offering Flexibility And Support

With work from home becoming the new normal, the boundaries between personal and professional life have disappeared in the last few months. This is where companies need to play a role by offering employees the opportunity to set and design their own schedules. While there is a prepossession that giving employees a free hand to set their own working hours will cause a decrease in productivity, a fair amount of studies suggest quite the opposite. When given the freedom to set their own schedules, employees are often more productive, happier, and more engaged.

Now is also the time for managers to keep open channels of communication, recognize signs of distress in employees, and facilitate regular conversations to boost morale. Two-way communication with managers and colleagues helps employees achieve the perspective they need.

2. Setting Clear Objectives

It is important for organizations to establish a direct link between the performance of individual employees and that of the company in general. This can help in making employees feel valued and in turn boost their confidence. Setting clear objectives and offering regular updates on possible changes also helps in ensuring that employees can stay focused, energetic, and work with a sense of purpose. One of the key engagement drivers for employees is seeing their work contribute to the overall goals of the company.

3. Providing Feedback And Recognition

While managers may not be able to accept every feedback and suggestion given by every employee, it is important for the latter to be heard. Leaders must also be transparent about whether the feedback will be put into action because it helps the employee feel worthy, leading to increased engagement.

This is also the time to offer recognition to employees for their efforts because it not only keeps them engaged but also motivates them. If monetary rewards are a tough option for now, there are other ways like acknowledgment on a company platform, token of appreciation, perks, etc. When an organization cares about employees’ development in this manner, it can definitely lead to increased confidence.

4. Offering Training And Development Opportunities

Investing in employee training and development is a significant way of ensuring that they stay engaged. A lack of training opportunities often leads to employees feeling undervalued and demotivated, thus negatively impacting engagement. In these unprecedented times, companies have had to adopt digital transformation and become more proficient with remote meeting and training platforms to ensure that training and development activities continue by embracing new technologies.

5. Focusing On Positivity

As the pandemic has altered workplace interactions (no more coffee machine/water cooler sessions, no more HR offsites, no more annual functions for a while), it has brought to the fore the need for a new normal to drive positivity. Companies now have to find innovative ways to drive employee engagement by going virtual—undertaking yoga and group exercise programs online, organizing fun activities like cooking sessions, even setting up virtual party nights! With physical distancing norms becoming the need of the hour, it is imperative to find other innovative ways to add to the fun quotient for some time.

Employee engagement has always been a crucial aspect for the growth of any company. In these disruptive times, as organizations are adapting to the new ways of working, employee engagement remains a decisive element to safeguard businesses' sustainability and growth.

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