How to Improve Employee Engagement During COVID-19

Posted by Andrew on May 4, 2020

A popular statistic that makes the rounds among business leaders is that 71% of executives say that employee engagement is critical to their organization’s success. The statistic comes from a report by the Harvard Business Review, but there are other salient facts from that report that often go unmentioned. While almost three-quarters of executives indicated employee engagement is vital to a successful company, 76% reported most of their employees aren’t highly engaged.

Workplace Myths Hindering Employee Engagement

There is a persistent myth that employees crave feedback. While it’s true employees appreciate recognition for their work, it’s rare they enjoy receiving constructive feedback or critiques. It also doesn’t do much to improve performance. The reason for this is that it puts the individual into a fight or flight brain space, which impedes learning. It’s more effective to show employees in greater and better details what they can do going forward rather than focusing on what they’re not doing or how they’re falling short of expectations.

Another common myth is that employees care about their organization’s culture. Many employers invest a lot of time into cultivating a company culture that reflects the business’ values. While this isn’t a bad thing to have in regards to branding for customers, clients, or investors, employees don’t care as much as employers might like to think they do. For many employees, they relate more to the individuals they interact with daily than they do to the organization as a whole. While a toxic culture can bring down the best of teams, a positive culture won’t necessarily drive engagement on its own.

What employees care about is whether their work is invigorating or fatiguing, whether they receive support from their peers or not, and whether or not they have opportunities to grow and innovate. Company culture can affect those things, but teams are more likely to have a greater effect. Employees interact with their team members on a regular basis and it’s those interactions that can make or break productivity and engagement.

Engaging a Remote Workforce

COVID-19 created new hurdles for employers trying to engage their workforce. Many employees are struggling with feelings of isolation and a new host of challenges while trying to manage their workload from home, often without their usual resources.

Communication is key to keeping morale up during this unpredictable time. Providing employees with regular updates about the status of the company, even if there is nothing new to report, can ease feelings of anxiety and fear of the unknown. Understanding the difficulties they’re facing and empathizing with them as well as letting them know what resources are available to them can help keep the workforce calm.

Improving morale can be as simple as being more vocal in recognition of hard work. Company leadership taking a more visible role can show employees how executives are coping with the changes to the workplace as well as their struggles. Encouraging virtual social interaction such as weekly coffee chats to start the workday can give employees something to look forward to and remain engaged with their work.

COVID-19 will continue to affect businesses, forcing many to work remotely without a clear end date in sight. Businesses that fail to take proactive steps to keep their employees engaged will notice slips in productivity, dips in morale, and problems with absenteeism as employees mentally check out of their job. To learn more about engagement and other factors that affect absenteeism, contact the experts at Actec.