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Is This the Time to Pay Attention to Employee Engagement?

by Jody Ordioni

Is This the Time to Pay Attention to Employee Engagement?

Most leaders may have already asked themselves the question mentioned above. The short answer to it is, yes, this is exactly the time that employee engagement is threatened significantly because the human connection is lost. How can we describe the situation that is currently gripping the world? It is unprecedented and scary. Even adjectives such as those cannot fully encompass what is going on right now. At a time, when many businesses are struggling to stay afloat, is it correct to talk about issues such as employee engagement?

Should you be paying attention to employee engagement at this time?

This, however, does seem like the exact time when one should be talking about employee engagement. Engagement, at the very core, is about how employees process their experience in the company. How employees feel about their work and professional life matters to the company. Thus, employee engagement should not be neglected at this time.

Before the pandemic forced us into work-from-home spaces, employee engagement was another target on the to-do list of employers. The primary concern was to beat some benchmark that had been set or to show the incremental increase in yearly performances. Many HR advocates, in the past, have voiced their concern over taking a different route to engage employees, one that does not make it a mechanical task. Now, more than ever, a holistic approach to employee engagement is important for the well-being of the workforce and the organization too. It is not about the numbers anymore. The focus is on the employees.

It is no news that the foundation of any company is the employees- the people matter. Employee engagement is the yardstick that lets us measure the experience of the employees within the company. This begs the question of what can companies do now to accurately gauge the engagement levels of the employees, using tools that were created for a workplace setting? It is important to understand how employees feel right now and what support they need.

Firstly, leaders have to acknowledge that work is an experience charged with emotions and change in emotions can frequently impact the work an employee does. This holds especially true in times of extreme stress, such as now. This implies that now is the time when companies should be doubling down on employee engagement and understand how to support their employees.

Employee engagement surveys to understand how to support employees

Beginning with engagement surveys, studies have shown that the frequency of employee surveys is mostly annual. It is a dismal rate, even when the external conditions are normal. Engagement surveys, when done quarterly, are shown to be more effective in grabbing the pulse of how people are doing. It allows the company to respond more quickly to crises. Given the expedited amounts of stress that exists with the pandemic, organizations may want to ramp up the frequency of the surveys even more. A survey conducted every 4-6 weeks may be more helpful.

However, the surveys should not become redundant or tiresome, given that the frequency is increasing. A few choice questions should be included in the survey to convey an actual picture of the level of employee engagement. Instead of bombarding employees with questions, choose a few parameters that can capture the experience of employees best. Incorporate people who are consistently contributing to high-quality work. Why does this matter, you ask? This is because such employees set the tone for the whole workforce. They are natural leaders who lead the way and become a beacon for the other employees.

To make the task easier and efficient, organizations should focus on employee engagement team-wise and not at the individual level. While overall engagement is important, it is at the level of the team that engagement happens effectively. Thus, it becomes imperative to share the results of the engagement surveys with the leaders of the teams, on a priority basis. Since team leaders are the immediate contact points for most of the employees right now, they should be armed with knowledge about the team.

The Bottom Line

Measuring engagement in real-time, especially with the chaos that the pandemic has caused, can provide organizations with key insights. Employee engagement during times like these shows the employees that their company cares about them. Engagement is not just another HR initiative, rather it is the most important task right now.

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