There is no doubt that the coronavirus will have a huge impact on employee engagement and the workplace in general. Because of this pandemic, we are experiencing one of the biggest workplace transformations in years. It is indeed a health crisis, but it is also a huge opportunity for businesses to transform.
Employee Engagement at Record High
Prior to the coronavirus crisis reaching the United States, Gallup’s research showed that employee engagement was at a record high. Is it possible that this level of engagement can survive all the change and uncertainty that has been brought on by this pandemic?
Employers that treat their employees with dignity and compassion during this pandemic will likely be remembered in a positive way after the threat is lifted. These companies already had a healthy productive culture with high employee engagement, and thus they are more likely to come out of this pandemic not just surviving but thriving.
For the companies that were struggling with employee engagement before the pandemic, they will continue to face challenges as the country starts to open back up. Workers may have felt isolated working remotely, and they may have felt unsupported and maybe even unsafe.
A recent study by Willis Towers Watson, “Deeper Dive into the Employee Experience Implications of COVID-19,”completed in April illustrated that if employees don’t feel safe, supported and valued, they won’t perform their job duties well.
Keeping Workers Engaged during a Pandemic
Here are some things companies with engaged workers are doing well during this pandemic.
- Protect Workers – And it’s not just their health that concerns workers but also their jobs, the company’s ability to weather this storm, and their families’ well-being and security. Companies are responding by offering options and support to work from home as well as wellness and training programs.
- Increase in Learning – Online learning has skyrocketed. People want to not only learn all they can about the pandemic but also are showing an increased interest in learning what will help them in their jobs and possibly to get ahead. Learning about other hobby topics is also on the increase. People have more time to expand their interests like cooking, sewing, and yoga.
- Leadership Culture Change – The Willis Towers Watson study showed that 63% of HR professionals said their organizational culture has improved, 59% said their employee well-being has improved, and 55% said their employee experience has improved. In the time of a national crisis, these are amazing numbers, and taking care of employees is on the mind of every business owner and CEO. A focus on safety, empathy and resilience is now (and will continue to be) the focus.
- Remote Work is Going Well – Some companies had an easier time making the transition to remote work. Some already had remote workers, but for some this transition was costly and time-consuming and technologically challenging. The Willis Towers Watson study found that 79% of companies saw a positive or neutral change in employee productivity with remote work, and only 21% said it decreased. Overall the benefits of remote work seem to be much greater than any negatives.
Transforming Business in a Positive Way
It seems that it has taken a global pandemic to further the importance of employee engagement and workplace culture. When a company cares about its people, the people care about the company. The Willis Towers Watts survey showed that 95% of the respondents think company leaders have a sincere interest in employees’ well-being.
Business leaders will need to work hard to keep up this high level of employee engagement, but we hope it’s here to stay. It will make companies stronger and employees’ lives better!
Contact Incentra if your company would like some guidance in creating a sustainable employee engagement program.