Are Your Managers Doing These Critical Things?
Tips for Enhancing Employee Engagement & Motivation
Employee engagement is so important to all organizations as it has a profound impact on creating a better workplace culture, reducing staff anxiety, increasing productivity, building a better work and customer relations, all which impact the organization’s bottom line.
The first thing you’re going to say is you don’t have time to do this. Well, if you don’t, there is a good chance you will be experiencing more turnover, resignations, and difficulty in finding skilled employees. Trust in the leadership to support their employees is critical during these stressful times created by the pandemic.
With all the changes, interruptions, vaccinations, social distancing, masking, etc., it has been difficult to maintain employee engagement throughout the pandemic. As a leader, it is important that we help our employees through these difficult times of constant change. It requires increased levels of leadership, planning, and high levels of communication. It is vital that you keep your employees engaged, connected, and productive. To do so requires leaders to shift their strategies just a bit to rally their workforce to adjust to the many changes and disruptions they are facing at work and personally.
Here are some key techniques you can use in adjusting your leadership strategies that will help your employees sense and feel your desire to help them and thus keep them focused and productive.
Face-to-face time: Meeting face-to-face physically or virtually, is the best method to bridge the engagement gap. Put time on your calendar to do this each week. If it’s a virtual meeting, tell employees not to worry about your attire, hair, or messy desk as no one is at their finest right now. The fact that you are connecting with them shows your support for what they are doing and provides an opportunity to make yourself visible to them and they to you.
So how often should I do this? It really depends on the department and individual role of the employee. If you are currently doing this once per month, increase the frequency to two times per month.
As the “new normal” becomes the “normal,” it may seem a good idea to reduce the communication frequency. Be careful here. Employees need opportunities for social interaction, direct support from managers and other leaders, and continued structure and support toward what they are doing. Uncertainty, social isolation, the lack of that ‘community’ feeling, and associated anxieties will emerge if they are left to deal with this major life disruption.
Utilize surveys or quick polls at meetings. This technique brings the employees to providing meaningful input, continues the connection to the organization they badly need and shows you are interested in possibly doing what is best for them.
Acknowledge the pandemic disruption but don’t let it be the lead topic: The pandemic has impacted everyone in many ways and there is no point in pretending it is anything but disrupting. Try using the first couple of minutes as a “check-in’ on how everyone is doing.
Consider varying your leadership style. If you don’t normally have an empathic leadership style, empathy may feel unauthentic to you. Consider sharing an amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person, picture of your home life or things that will help you find the right channel to connect with individuals. During these times, you need to prioritize the needs of your employees over you own leadership style.
Leadership during this pandemic requires a lot of you. You need to show compassion, empathy, and a commitment to personal interactions. Take a hard look at what your employees might need to do their best work. Do they need more flexible hours to accommodate the realities of the family life? More frequent check-ins? Increased or decreased independence on their tasks or projects. What is it that will help them in their efforts to be that good employee?
Train and Upskill Employees: There are many articles addressing the retention of employees. Training and providing your employees with new skills that they can apply in expanding roles is a great way of improving your workforce and showing the employees that you value their skills and contribution. This doesn’t need to be a major change; it can be accomplished in small incremental steps over time. Another approach is cross training an employee to do other jobs.
Maintain the key goals and vision: During a major disruption like the pandemic, you will need to maintain the key goals and vision. Engage your employees in discussing how best to accomplish this. Frequent discussions can help maintain alignment with those key goals and vision. The vision provides much-needed structure by enabling employees to feel a part of the greater organization and can be a motivator during these crazy and disruptive times.
Maintain those projects: When we entered the heart of the pandemic many projects were either put on hold or permanently cancelled. Take that list of projects and engage your employees in categorizing and prioritizing these projects; take one of two items from the list and put them into motion. OK – you have less staff and the same amount of work to do – right. But something new and different has a great impact on engaging employees in something different – especially if it is something that can make their job easier, more efficient, or more effective.
If you’re concerned about employee engagement, corporate or workplace culture, recruitment, or other business operation impacts, let Invista Performance Solutions be your partner in helping you build solutions that will transform your people and organization through these and any other operational or behavioral issues.
Deloitte. (2021) What has COVID-19 taught us about employee engagement. https://www2.deloitte.com/mt/en/pages/human-capital/articles/mt-employee-engagement-and-covid-19.html
Forbes. (2021, May 20) 15 Innovative Ways to Boost Employee Engagement. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2021/05/20/15-innovative-ways-to-boost-employee-engagement/?sh=7ecd5b1f374b
Gallup (2021) Create a Proven Employee Engagement Strategy.
Harvard Business Review. (2021, October 13) How Companies Can Improve Engagement Right Now. https://hbr.org/2021/10/how-companies-can-improve-employee-engagement-right-now