As employees begin going back into the office and other places begin to reopen as normal, workers are not always going to be as enthusiastic for that to happen as their employers might have hoped. Some businesses may have to work at re-engaging their employees in a post-pandemic world in order to get things back on the right track.
Why is Workplace Engagement So Important?
Rebuilding a business requires fully engaged employees who are loyal, productive, and committed. But what happens if at least 50% of the team are disengaged? While these employees can still be productive, they may feel no connection to their company and are thus more likely to have absent days or even just simply leave. Managing disengaged employees is crucial to prevent them from negatively impacting other individuals, particularly those who are already somewhat disconnected.
Businesses might not be thinking of employee engagement as a major priority right now, with their attention understandably focused on starting back up, tax reductions they may be eligible for, closing deals, and customer relations, but neglecting employee engagement for too long could make it impossible to re-engage them in the long term.
What’s the Current Challenge?
Many employees have been working from home for so long that they have not only become accustomed to it but also realised how much time and money they are saving as a result. Consequently, employees are starting to ask for more flexibility in regards to their working lives, including the expectation for companies to be open to new styles of working and the option to continue to work remotely.
This shift in attitude is going to have a major impact on the reopening of the workplace. While many people have regretted losing the social aspect of working in the office, even those individuals are making it clear that they feel a change is needed.
While businesses are hardly likely to want to start making massive structural changes in the wake of an already financially damaging global pandemic, keeping their employees engaged is something they are going to need to think long and hard about how to do.
The Re-Engagement Process
Engaging employees, and keeping them engaged long-term, was never an easy task even before the pandemic and it’s only going to be more difficult in the face of looming job losses, a recession, a still circulating virus, and after months of being able to work from home.
However, the traditional ways of engaging employees that have been used for many years by employers are still applicable and should be implemented to re-engage workers. Some companies may decide to make a slow transition back to the old model to allow workers time to adjust to being in the office again after months of lockdown, while others may adopt a hybrid approach that combines the traditional office model with working from home.
Employers also need to ensure their workers have the right tools to enable their success and productivity when working from home. These tools can include video conferencing and chat applications to enable contact with supervisors and co-workers, as well as file storage tools to ensure easy access to documents and resources. Modern intranets play an important role in business success, helping to raise productivity of workers, increase sales, and save on costs.
1. Offer Growth Opportunities and Show Recognition
Employees are always more engaged when they feel there is a chance to develop and grow in their current position. However, this is a difficult situation for employers at present given that any corresponding growth in their business is likely to have been stifled for some time due to the pandemic.
While this may present itself as an issue, it’s important to focus on ensuring that employees feel secure in their jobs and that they’re not at risk of being made redundant. Otherwise, there’s a risk that they’ll be very quick to disengage.
Employee engagement is also more common when they receive recognition for their contribution. Many employees consider recognition more valuable than gifts or rewards and are more likely to be actively engaged with the company they work for if they feel as though the work they do is genuinely appreciated.
The great thing about showing recognition for the work done by your employees and offering praise in return for it is that it costs no money and takes very little time. Consider the achievements made by your remote workers during the pandemic and when your workplace reopens, be ready to start expressing gratitude and issuing praise for their efforts.
2. Have Fun
The simplest and most effective method of ensuring employees stay engaged and motivated is to provide a working environment that encourages the team to take care of each other and enjoy themselves. This can be achieved by developing stronger relationships and encouraging extracurricular hobbies given that most people want to find a working environment that is healthy and non-toxic.
It’s important to keep in mind that the experience of working from home, including the time and money it has saved, will actually have been welcomed and enjoyed by many workers, providing the opportunity to achieve a better work-life balance and potentially even discover new hobbies.
One way to ensure the work environment is more fun is to create new methods of communication and ensure employees are comfortable with approaching management to discuss new ideas and suggestions. Building better relationships with colleagues and supervisors will result in happier and more motivated employees, which is likely to lead to an increase in employee engagement.
3. Set Expectations and Be Transparent
The goals of your business may require adjustments in order to weather the crisis and you may need to change marketing strategies, distribution methods, or even your product offerings.
Being open with workers will mean they can quickly become more comfortable with future changes in their roles. In addition, this transition can be made a lot easier by privately discussing the new roles and ensuring that clear expectations, objectives, and goals have been set.
In addition to providing a sense of importance and respect towards employees, having clear targets to work towards will also reduce their doubts relating to job security.
Making the Transition Back to the Office?
Successfully achieving employee engagement isn’t a simple task, especially when considering the return to the office after long periods of remote working. To ensure employees are motivated, dedicated, and engaged, it’s important for your business to take the simple steps above to encourage this mindset and attitude towards your company. This not only benefits employees by providing a more enjoyable work experience and environment, but it also has the potential to bring considerable benefits to overall business performance.