Has working from home made Employee Engagement more important, yet harder to achieve?
One of the first business staples of the pandemic to find itself irrevocably changed was the precept that employees had to be closeted in a controlled office environment, and that without this productivity, engagement and eventually the bottom line would suffer as a result.
The most adaptive and forward-thinking companies recognised this new reality and immediately started to find new ways to hold teams together. After all, success for many in constructing high-functioning teams that would work from home going forward has attractive benefits in terms of salary expectations and exorbitant city office rents. Fixed establishment and pay budgets that had always looked so hard to modify came into a sharper, more malleable focus. If productivity could be maintained at even an approximation of current levels, then there were serious profit gains to be made. And dare I whisper it, what if a new style of employee engagement could actually increase output and produce a win-win all round?
Virtually every day I hear about CEO’s who have been unwilling to see beyond the established work practises that they have always been used to. Not only can they not wait for everything to get back to normal, but they are also willing to ‘bend’ key worker rules to try and get everyone back as early as possible, often achieving the kind of employee disengagement that the rest of us dread. An inability to take any positives from this whole period does nothing to engender loyalty or effort from anyone, and as soon as you start to create wholesale lack of faith in leadership at the top then the cracks in an organisation can become critical.
As an antidote to this fearful lack of adaptability and refusal to grasp new opportunities are the leaders who have encouraged managers to develop personal touches, to increase contact and gain a deeper understanding of their staff and what motivates them. Be it with feedback, fun or a fundamental re-shaping of the way they interact with the people they direct, individual managers have changed behaviours and, in many cases, flourished. Staff who have been freed from the shackles of commuting, and feel motivated and committed, see less need to clock off at a prescribed time, and feel better about giving that little bit extra.
Serious technical innovations have of course made much of this possible in a way that even 5 years ago would have been just problematic. The provision of high-speed internet creates possibilities, that serious HR-driven employee engagement can turn into reality. This kind of strategy, allied with the kind of cutting-edge software and hardware that makes it possible, equips a toolkit that visionary leaders will use to come out of this with a company constructed to take full advantage of the post-pandemic world.
If you are asking yourself do I have the management ability where it’s needed to fulfil my successful post-pandemic vision, and am, I putting in place ideas and systems necessary to build an even stronger future? Then of course contact smart/tasking for input into how strategy-driven HR can engender a lasting and productive cultural renaissance.
Please feel free to leave comments below about personal engagement successes you have had.
By Debbie Scola | Client Partner