Employee engagement is a concept that most HR leaders are familiar with. And, if you’re like most companies, it’s one that you’ve recently moved to the top of your priority list. But with COVID-19 leaving your employees stressed and disengaged, you may be wondering how to take action in this challenging environment. We share our top ideas for boosting employee engagement below.
Why it’s important to boost employee engagement
Before we dive into the actual ideas, let’s refresh our definition of employee engagement. Essentially, employee engagement reflects the level of emotional connection and commitment a worker demonstrates to their company. This isn’t the same as employee happiness. While they’re certainly closely related and have the power to impact each other, an employee can technically be happy where they work without being engaged in what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis.
Let’s explore exactly why employee engagement is so critical to pay attention to:
- Increases productivity. Organisations with a high level of engagement report 22% higher productivity. It’s easy to see why this is the case. When an employee is truly immersed in what they’re working on, they’re likely to produce better outcomes – especially in comparison to a disengaged employee who may not give their full attention to the projects they’re working on.
- Reduces absenteeism. A Gallup study also found that highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism. Absenteeism currently costs the Australian economy over $32.5 billion each year, so you can see how this decrease can have a profound impact.
- Saves on costs. Finally, it makes sense that high employee engagement leads to many cost savings for an organisation. Not only is this as a result of the increased productivity and lowered rates of absenteeism, but more engaged employees are also less likely to leave companies. This means less resources invested in hiring new talent or dealing with the consequences of a high turnover rate.
10 ideas to boost employee engagement
We put together a diverse range of options to help you boost employee engagement. Feel free to take on whichever tactics make the most sense given your organisation’s current needs, resources, and goals.
1. Make virtual fun
Remote work presents many opportunities for engagement. For instance, video calls can be used for activities beyond meetings. Companies have been using this technology to create fun, bonding moments – whether that’s through virtual happy hours, costume contests, or cooking lessons. SafetyCulture, for example, launched a virtual pub with multiple themed rooms to create a space for employees to enjoy social time with one another.
2. Create communities
Many employees may be feeling isolated during these times, which can negatively impact their levels of engagement. To foster a stronger sense of community, companies can take advantage of technology to start virtual clubs like Canva did. These clubs can represent any range of interests, from wine tasting to books to pasta. The purpose is to bring people together around shared interests and create a space for those conversations to unfold organically.
3. Open up access to leadership
Having the opportunity to engage more with company leaders can be inspiring for employees. So use this time to open up access to the leadership team, whether that’s by having more regular updates from the CEO or hosting virtual “office hours” for people to ask questions. Having employees feel like they’re being seen and heard by executives can make a huge difference to engagement levels.
4. Diversify communication efforts
It may be tempting to maintain your regular methods of communication. However, given the unusual circumstances around COVID-19, it’s important to diversify your communication efforts. You can do this by increasing the cadence and switching up the channels that you communicate through. So instead of a weekly, in-person all-hands meeting, you may want to consider daily updates in the company Slack channel. Things are changing by the minute, and employees want to know what’s going on with their organisation.
5. Roll out new stipends or initiatives
Your employees are likely struggling with the impact of the pandemic. So if you have the ability to do so, demonstrate that you care by offering out new types of stipends or initiatives. A great example of this is introducing new mental health programs or budgets to create ergonomic workspaces at home, which is exactly what TransferWise did for their employees. This can enable your employees to work better and smarter.
6. Take advantage of existing resources
Thankfully, we live in a time where there are many valuable resources to help with employee engagement. These include everything from communication tools to HR management platforms. At Flare HR, we offer a free onboarding and employee benefits portal, which includes discounts from leading retailers like Woolworths, JB Hi-Fi and Amazon, that can help both new and existing employees feel more engaged.
7. Offer flexibility
There’s a good chance your employees are more distracted than usual right now. Not only are they managing their work schedules, but they’re simultaneously trying to take care of their families and themselves. To make the balancing act easier for them, practice flexibility. This means allowing employees to set their own schedules and being understanding of the fact that working parents may not be able to join 9 a.m. calls because they’re busy getting the kids ready for the day.
8. Encourage time off
Employees may feel like they don’t have the luxury to take time off these days since they can’t travel. This can lead to burnout, which will eventually cause a significant drop in engagement and a potential increase in health problems. To prevent this from happening, proactively encourage your employees to take personal days, mental health days, or even a few days off for a “staycation.” Even one week of time off can help an employee feel refreshed.
9. Boost recognition efforts
Investing more in your recognition program is also an effective way to directly improve your engagement levels. A study by Bersin by Deloitte revealed that organisations where recognition occurs have 14% better employee engagement, productivity, and customer service than those without. So whether it’s finding more opportunities to say “thank you” to employees for their hard work or dedicating a budget to rewards, know that a little bit of recognition can go a long way.
10. Prioritise wellness
Finally, supporting the health and wellness of employees should be the priority of every employer right now. If you don’t already have a holistic wellness program in place, now may be a good time to start thinking about one. Or, at the very least, start pointing employees to the existing mental and physical health resources you do have available so they know there are options available to them.
Even though COVID-19 presents many challenges, this is also an opportunity to strengthen your workforce and boost the engagement levels of your employees. Regardless of whether you start off with just one of these tactics or several, you’re sure to see improvements in the way that your employees work.
Flare offers a free paperless onboarding software and free employee benefits with access to hundreds of leading retailer like Woolworths and Kmart. If you want to learn more about how Flare HR can support your business and employees during this time, please request a demo.