As a result of the lockdowns or circuit breakers mandated by the government due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, some are still working from home. Not being in the office, attending meetings with co-workers and bosses might be a first for many. For employers, getting employees to be engaged while working remotely is a fresh challenge. It might not be exactly the same as when everyone’s working face-to-face, but the fundamentals still apply. So what is employee engagement, exactly?
What is Employee Engagement and Why is it Important?
The concept of employee engagement is workplace approaches that aim to have all members of an organisation put out effort at an elite level while being committed to the values and goals of said organisation. Factors that affect employee engagement include: employee satisfaction, motivation, leadership, compensation and so on.
When employees of a company are engaged, they look at the big picture and they understand their role and purpose within the company. They are more resilient, make better decisions and perform better than their non-engaged counterparts. Organisations with better engaged employees have higher earning per share and recover more quickly from recessions and financial stumbling blocks.
How to Keep Employees Engaged?
The rapid change in global technology and workplace culture has influenced the perspective of engagement in the workplace. Employers should adapt accordingly and utilize different engagement strategies.
1. Practice Precise Communications
This is especially crucial in work-from-home situations, but also applies in the office. Workplace communications can be streamlined to increase efficiency and productivity as well as cut out a lot of redundant, back and forth calls or emails. Incidentally, this also has the side effect of reducing the employees’ perception of micromanagement on the part of their superiors.
2. Keep it Positive
Promoting a positive workplace culture helps with the upkeep of employee motivation, satisfaction and overall morale. Studies show that employees affected by toxicity at work are absent more often, make more mistakes and have more accidents. Workplace stress has been linked to a decrease in physical activity and increase in risks of coronary heart disease.
3. Give Meaning to Work
No employee enjoys feeling like what they do doesn’t matter. Achieving an understanding of their role and tasks in relation to the values and goals of the organisation means working longer because they want to, not because they have to. This also contributes heavily to job satisfaction because they’re given meaningful work.
4. Seek Feedback
Sometimes, employees can be reluctant to approach their manager when they run into problems. A reason that’s commonly given is that they don’t want to look incompetent at their jobs. Empower them and give them your trust and look for solutions together whenever they seek you out for assistance or advice.
5. Recognize and Reward
Getting validation from your superiors is an extremely powerful and a massive confidence boost. Let your employees know how much you appreciate them and take the opportunity to give them your feedback regarding their work. This should ideally be done in person, but since current circumstances may limit that, a video call will do.
Employee recognition, rewarding performance and employee satisfaction all go hand in hand. If an employee goes above and beyond their job scope, they should be rewarded with some type of incentive. Set up a system that works for your company.
Tips for Work-from-Home Engagement
As mentioned before, not everyone is back in their offices yet. Some of the regular strategies to keep employees engaged have to be tweaked a little bit. Here are some hacks to reach out to people who are working from home.
People are definitely missing the water cooler chat that used to be a daily thing in the office. Sure, they might still have phone or video calls, but it’s just not the same. Inject that social fun factor into office interactions, like hosting drinking parties (alcohol or otherwise), virtual workouts or just a simple session involving hands-on games. Leverage technology by using apps to keep each other up to date or just have a chill pill.
This ties back to the hosting of social gatherings. Trust your employees and give them the responsibility of hosting some of these activities. A suggested method is to have them done in a rotation, for example: Employee A plans the activity for week 1, employee B does week 2 and so on. Plus, employees know what’s fun within their cliques, and chances are, participation numbers will be higher.
Speaking of participation, how can be it encouraged in a virtual setting? Prizes can serve to attract attendees and it doesn’t have to be cash or its equivalent. Enticing them with prizes like discount vouchers at “hot” dining venues can be equally appealing. Dividing employees into multiple “teams” or “houses” results in a form of positive social pressure that stimulates participation and teamwork.
Try not to micromanage your employees that are working from home, especially if that wasn’t your organization’s culture before the lockdown started. Micromanagement breeds mistrust, low morale and clock-watching. Many companies have started adapting virtual information boards where employees can report on their progress, ask questions.