There's no doubt that 2020 was a year filled with unpredictability, anxiety, and stress. Employees across all industries were impacted by the global pandemic, resulting in unprecedented changes to how and where Americans work.
In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 70 percent of employed adults said work was a "significant source of stress" during the early months of the pandemic – a notable rise from the 64 percent who reported the same in 2019.
But despite the high levels of stress, employees are still engaged at work. In fact, even though the pandemic has forced many employees to work from home, engagement reached its highest point in July 2020, with 40 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll reporting that they felt involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their jobs. Productivity, job satisfaction, and of course, retention are all linked to a certain level of employee engagement.
To keep employee engagement high, the latest Gallup research finds that employers must do one thing above all: Communicate, communicate, communicate!
It's crucial that leaders engage in consistent communication with their teams, as employees want to feel they are valued members of the company and a part of their organization’s big picture. Emphasizing communication during the pandemic can also help ensure employees stay abreast of off the benefits available to them, giving them the greatest opportunity to embrace the full range programs that your benefits team offers. Accolade’s team can help your employees make the most of all their healthcare benefits , but there are other tools you can employ as well.
Instead of conducting annual surveys with dozens of questions covering various topics, employers may consider implementing pulse surveys . This easily executable variety of survey typically features less than ten questions and focuses on a specific topic.
Due to their brevity, employees aren't bogged down with a survey that may take more than 5 minutes to complete, and employers get valuable feedback they can put into action immediately.
Stay interviews are structured discussions between individual employees and management personnel. The purpose is to discover specific actions that can be taken to strengthen the employee's level of engagement and retention with the company.
Conducting stay interviews makes management concretely responsible for listening to employees' requests and concerns. Implemented effectively, these interviews can help managers understand their departments better while also building employee trust in their organizations, says the Society for Human Resource Management.
Employee focus groups
Focus groups aren’t just useful for understanding what will resonate with your audience or customers – they can provide valuable insight into your own organization as well. Many companies use employee focus groups to examine and discuss survey trends, strengths, and weaknesses that exist within the organization. The focus group will take the survey feedback to gather deeper insights to boost employee engagement.
Most focus groups consist of a moderator who acts as a go-between for fellow employees and management, a coordinator who oversees scheduling and logistics, and other company employees from around the organization who can provide input and insight on their level of engagement and how it could be improved.
Don't forget about remote workers
According to a Gallup poll , remote workers enjoy three times higher rates of engagement than in-office employees when they get frequent feedback from management - at least three times per month.
Employers can further support remote employees by conducting regular check-ins in addition to providing feedback. Whether it be on a daily or weekly basis, be sure to maintain a constant stream of communication with work from home employees. This communication can range from brief pulse surveys to understand the challenges faced by remote workers, to reminders about Employee Assistance Programs and other benefits that may help your team to cope with the stress of the pandemic and the increasingly blurred lines between work and personal time.
Employee engagement has become an expected perk as a way to attract and retain qualified prospects. Here's the bottom line. While the uptick in the rate of employee engagement is encouraging there's still work to be done. But maintaining a steady focus on communication will go far in encouraging a sense of belonging and appreciation, in the workplace.