The Covid-19 epidemic has significantly affected the way we conduct business over the past two years.
Strict measures were taken by our government to ensure our safety and the safety of others, and for many of us, it has become the biggest exercise for working from home.
For many companies, remote work is a brand new concept and one where employee recruitment rules no longer work.
At its core, employee engagement is the employee’s emotional commitment to the organization and its goals. By applying Abraham Maslow’s “classification of needs,” we see the needs of physiology, security, ownership, respect, and self-realization.
For example, the feeling of job security falls under the requirements of security and ownership. When this is met, employees can be reassured and focused on bringing their best efforts into their job, knowing that they will be there tomorrow.
Without this security, paranoia and insecurity creep in. And you can expect employees to be less dedicated to doing their best.
With the COVID-19 disruption, how can organizations continue to work in these critical areas and support these critical areas?
Before that, we need to understand what has changed over the years.
What is making the post-epidemic workers busy?
Not too long ago, job seekers looking for new jobs weren’t too critical.
A good salary and job security were the most important aspects of finding a job.
Nowadays, the generation entering the workplace cares about other things and has different expectations for finding an employer.
People are people, and they want to behave like people, not as employees.
They want to see recognition from their superiors for the work they do and build a good relationship with them.
They want to take care of their physical and mental health because it is so important.
Employees also seek growth and career development and regularly seek feedback on their performance.
Such an emphasis would lead to a win-win situation as research has shown that more employed manpower equals a company’s productivity.
An organization needs managers to be empathetic to its subordinates and to motivate them and build a good relationship with them to get the best results from their team.
2. Digital conversion
The Covid-19 epidemic has also accelerated digital transformation, and many organizations have become wary, especially those who have not relied heavily on digitalisation to survive and thrive.
Companies are being forced to think about future technologies to protect their right to exist, and this involves a painful assessment of what needs to be cut, retained or upgraded.
With digital transformation, the ability to engage with employees increases tenfold.
Just look at the impact on performance reviews. The traditional annual performance review can now be replaced by more frequent check-in. In addition, technology now allows companies to scale their outreach and engagement efforts.
Given the expectation of real-time satisfaction in our daily lives, it is important for companies to integrate the frequencies in their reward systems that one often expects.
3. Employee wellness
According to a report in the Straits Times on 15 November 2021, about 7 out of 10 Singaporeans said that this year was the most stressful at work, with more than half of them struggling with their mental health this year compared to last year.
This is in line with Willis Tower Watson’s 2021 APAC survey on employee experience where 79% of respondents believe that employee wellness is an important driver of a positive employee experience.
These are primarily due to uncertainty about the future and constant changes in the rules of Covid-19.
Burn-outs are no longer exclusive to lawyers and auditors because remote work has almost disappeared with a blurred line between home and office.
What can the company do?
There must be a change of mindset for a start, where companies consider incorporating a new ROI metric centered on employees.
Considering the great resignation, companies need to weigh the financial and time spent in hiring new employees and training them and keeping existing employees happy.
And the choice is a no-brainer-given study that predicts that whenever a business replaces a salaried employee, the average cost is 6 to 9 months.
I call it Employee Engagement ROI.
And to achieve that, companies need to focus on the following areas:
1. Increase motivation and morale
In early 2021, a research survey was conducted to measure morale growth and how it affects the organization.
The study focused on sending personalized symbolic letters of appreciation to social workers. Half of them received letters directly from their directors, others did not.
One month after this general intervention, social workers who received a letter said they felt more valued, recognized and supported by their organization for their work than those who did not.
Which makes employees more satisfied with their organization, more productive and less likely to leave.
And according to the study it is not limited to a hardcopy letter.
A short text message can work exactly the same way, especially when done in a public domain where everyone else will be confidential for recognition.
There are also digital tools that integrate recognition with a reward system and go above and beyond.
For example, Rewardz provides digital solutions like CERRA Points where companies can easily digitize their rewards and recognition programs for employees, sales channel partners and customers.
2. Choose balance on burnout.
In a work engagement study on the hotel industry at the University of Brauizaya Indonesia, researchers found that work stress created due to work stress had a significant effect on turnover intentions.
The results of this survey suggest that hotels should pay more attention to the tasks assigned to them according to their ability so that the employees are not overwhelmed and they can complete these tasks in the best possible, timely manner and create a strategy. Relieve employee stress during work
Another thing that can be deployed is to support employees with a structured mental wellness initiative, which may include issues.
- Boundary between work and leisure time – do not expect immediate answers outside of office hours
- Free access to a meditation app that encourages everyday reflection
- Weekly guided journaling practice
- For employees working remotely, one zoom-free half-day per week to reduce screen time intensity.
- Include mental health days in the company’s medical vacation policies to encourage self-care.
- Easy access to mental health resources.
3. Enable leadership confidence
It can be intimidating for managers accustomed to measuring performance based on observation when employees are not working within their vision.
But if it only leads to micro-management, you are trying to control the inputs when you cannot observe them.
A good way is to measure the output, which can only happen when trust exists.
It also represents a transition from the previous top-down approach to a partnership system, somewhat like marriage.
And like a married couple who trust each other, trusting takes time and effort.
Companies can start by having frequent check-ins and transparent conversations between directors, managers and employees to feel included in what is happening within the organization.
Another advantage of having frequent team meetings is that an uninterrupted feedback loop can be set up, where employees continually improve their work through open communication with management.
These exercises will increase employee engagement and help companies retain employees in the long run.
Although many organizations had difficulty adjusting their management style during COVID-19, lessons learned about employee engagement will positively change employee mentality.
And in today’s context, it’s easier than ever to use digital tools to help your employees scale engagement initiatives and build a closer connection between recognition and rewards.
Covid-post, sensitive connections and new habits and rules that are created between employees and their work will reduce employee turnover, increase productivity and motivate.
To encourage these connections, senior management and C-Suite need to adapt and rethink their current work culture.