Employee engagement is an HR hot topic that has been high on the agenda as cultural and technological workplace changes have evolved over the past few years. Employee engagement strategies have proven to reduce staff turnover, improve productivity, attract the right talent and efficiency and reduce operational costs. Engaged staff are happier at work and in life generally. When you are engaged it adds energy to what you do, and it creates a circle of infectious fulfilment for you and those around you.
Employee engagement is more than taking an annual pulse survey. Much has been said and written in social forums and scholarly articles about employee engagement, and often when we talk about increasing productivity, increasing engagement is often the first thought. But how do you engage employees?
Employee engagement during times of disruption
Pulse surveys are a starting point, but it’s especially important to take a pulse of your employee engagement during times of disruption. If you had surveyed your employees every two months throughout 2020 you would probably have seen varying levels of staff engagement. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended workforces and workplaces, with constant change and uncertainty. This has ultimately resulted in lasting changes for employees that directly impacts engagement and productivity.
As businesses have adjusted to remote and flexible working, we have seen a direct impact on employee engagement and productivity levels in the UK. According to Personnel today, employee engagement levels remain ‘stubbornly low’ in the UK.
Though a traditional and sometimes useful measure, the annual engagement survey for 2020 may not actually give an accurate representation of employee sentiment, as it is taken at a point in time rather than measured continuously over the year. This is one of the key reasons that embedding and monitoring employee engagement is such a key priority for HR teams and why it’s on the HR Wish List.
Traditionally, if the annual litmus test delivers negative responses, the business reacts with engagement initiatives, which may help, but this approach is more reactional and transactional than organic and strategic. And with the shifting dynamics of workplace and social distancing, these initiatives need to be ‘living, breathing’ and active to respond to the various needs of the business and the staff. We all understand that engagement shouldn’t be a one-time activity, and we can avoid results being skewed by measuring frequently and regularly.
Employee engagement isn’t just HR’s responsibility
HR plays an essential role in overseeing engagement initiatives, but arguably HR should hold everyone accountable. A key way to enable a more ‘organic’ approach to engagement is to provide mangers, staff and leaders with the right tools, skills and opportunities. With the right enablement tools, delivering engagement strategies can feel less transactional, and less forced, yielding a more natural, longer lasting result.
We frequently see the barriers to delivering engagement strategies come from manager’s engagement with the process. However, the right mix of tools in place enables HR to see the real-time status across the organisation, at any time, so there are no excuses and no need to wait for the annual pulse survey. Viewing engagement data at all levels, means remedial action can be taken in relation to a single team or business unit where needed.
Managers need to motivate
Anyone working in HR understands this. According to Gallup, managers account for over 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Employees with highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than employees supervised by disengaged managers. This goes to highlight why improving staff engagement does not sit solely with HR teams. Provided with the right mix of tools some engagement initiatives will deliver results, but mangers need to be engaged themselves. And who engages the managers?
In our experience, the most successful engagement outcomes are when managers are provided with the right balance between targets and opportunities versus data and tools to deliver. Managers can’t deliver targets or change without the data or tooling to aid with their decision making. This is why manager self-service is so important for modern HR. Managers need to be provided with information, summarised and presented in a way where they can take action. Not just about core HR or Time and Attendance for their direct reports – but also how staff engage with systems and other staff members via interactive dashboards. By giving managers the information and tools to succeed, this breeds successful employee engagement.
Employees play a key role in their own engagement, however this year circumstances have inflicted other challenges for managers, leaders and their people which suggests the need for ongoing and perhaps more dynamic approaches to increasing and maintaining staff engagement.
HR professionals care about the wellbeing of their people, which is why employee engagement is something they are passionate about, and why it’s on their HR wish list this Christmas.
For more information about how elementsuite can help you with your employee engagement initiatives next year, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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