It took a global health crisis for business and HR leaders to realize that if the people do not feel happy or supported, they simply cannot do their jobs. The pandemic generated a swift change that was long overdue.
Why employees’ engagement is so important?
Before the pandemic, according to a Gallup research, in the U.S, only 33% of Americans were engaged in their jobs, 55% were “just showing up” and 17% were feeling “actively disengaged”. It was apparent therefore that most employees were lacking enthusiasm for their jobs. Senior managers and company leaders of any sector experience the impact of employee engagement to company’s success.
It leads to low retention, high profits, successful completion of projects, enhancement of the employer branding and company’s reputation.
“On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.”
Did COVID-19 change perceptions on how the employees’ engagement should be alike?
Absolutely, yes. During the first months of 2020, when COVID-19 forced most economies of the world to a sudden and abrupt halt, enterprises were pleasantly surprised by the realization that employees felt more engaged and attached with their companies than ever. When the ship is sinking, nobody abandons the ship.
“It all came down to employee engagement. It all came down to recognition. It all came down to leadership, which led to every sailor feeling ownership and accountability for the results. You can ask a team to accomplish a mission but you can’t order.”
Mike Abrashoff, Ναύαρχος του USS Benfold
A Willis research found that:
- 90% of companies believe their culture has improved,
- 83% believe their employees’ experience is better, and
- 84% believe employees’ engagement has gone up.
The ship of economy never actually sank and that is due to the workforce of each company.
Coronavirus placed a serious threat on people, not only for their health, but also for their jobs. It is an instinctive reaction to feel threatened in such a transcending period. For this reason, leaders need to protect their employees by offering the conditions to keep on doing their jobs unintermittedly. Managers also need to consider employees’ personal needs, their family status, as well as wellbeing factors. Management in the times of the pandemic is becoming more personal than ever.
Boosting Employee Engagement during the Pandemic
Managers and HR Executives are opening new communication channels to help employees feel attached to the company. As working remotely is the new reality for the majority of the workforce, managers need to be more available to their teams and more resourceful than ever. From providing the proper tools and equipment to work from home to building emotional support, effective manager is the one who shows empathy and concern for their people.
Cal Henderson, co-founder of messaging app Slack, when asked what their best decision was during the pandemic, answered, “focusing on health and wellbeing of our employees. We were clear that we want people to take care of themselves and their families. We are all human first”. This decision has driven the business forward after all.
Mitchell Baker, chief executive of Mozilla corporation, commented that the best decision she took as a leader is “the commitment to openness with our employees and community about the state of our organization and business” because this led to “long lasting rewards in the form of employee commitment and dedication”. There is a need to reconsider leadership and opt for an emotional style leadership. When the company takes care of its people, people take care of the company. Engagement is a two-way process. Inspired leadership leads to engaged employees and engaged employees embrace company culture and work towards the company’s success.
How do we perceive work engagement, really?
If we try to define what employee engagement means, each of us will come up with a different definition. Sometimes we also interchange job satisfaction with the engagement. However, satisfaction refers to the personal contentment of the employee depending on factors such as the remuneration, the quality of the working environment, perks and benefits, whereas engagement refers to the attachment and connection the employee feels towards the company. Aon Hewitt gives his own definition of employee engagement as “the level of an employee’s psychological investment in their organization”.
To address the employee engagement in LMW, we work towards the following directions:
- Introduce methods to help management comprehend the importance of the employee engagement and enhance it
- assess employees’ engagement by placing the right questions through our specialized surveys
- working with employees and leaders together through the action method of psychodrama
- practically enhance employees’ engagement making it a substantial part of your company’s culture
For us, employees’ wellbeing is the core of all successful companies.