The global pandemic has brought on a monumental shift in the way many businesses operate. But it’s not just businesses that have had to adjust — In some way, shape, or form, a majority of American workers have also been affected. According to research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35 percent of employed people telecommuted, and 19 percent were unable to work at some point in the last four weeks because of the pandemic.
This enormous impact on employees has forced many organizations to make dramatic changes in their communications, operations, and wellness programs to provide some resemblance of normal for their employees. With so many disruptions affecting workers, business leaders have a tremendous opportunity to identify gaps, challenge the status quo, and modernize their employee engagement programs to improve employee productivity and overall job satisfaction.
A Legacy Approach
A majority of companies know that happier, healthier employees lead to more positive business outcomes, and research backs this up. According to a Gallup meta-analysis from 1.4 million employees, companies with high engagement report 22 percent higher productivity. Similarly, the Workplace Research Foundation discovered employees who are engaged are 38 percent more likely to have above-average productivity.
This research isn’t new. For years, we’ve known that employees who are more engaged are also more productive and feel a deeper connection to their place of work compared to their coworkers. However, many organizations are still using a legacy approach to understand, measure, and improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Here’s a typical legacy approach used by many organizations:
- The company sends an “anonymous” employee survey once or twice a year to gauge employee satisfaction.
- The company doesn’t offer a formalized learning/training program.
- Managers don’t track essential metrics like employee turnover, absenteeism, employee NPS, or overall productivity in a data-driven way.
- Managers don’t have a way to identify and recognize when individual employees are driving important OKRs for their team.
- The company doesn’t regularly update training material and often relies on employees to “learn on the job”.
A Modern Approach
Employee engagement isn’t only about productivity. Actively investing in employees can improve customer satisfaction, reduce employee turnover, and promote a healthy business culture. However, organizations need to change their approach to maximize the benefits of their employee programs — pulse surveys or scheduled annual reviews are no longer adequate ways of collecting and measuring employee feedback and performance. Instead, leaders need to move beyond traditional methods and include strategies and technologies that embed employee experience best practices in everyday work. Utilizing tools that empower employees to effectively do their jobs and provide leaders with a way to monitor and improve training and outcomes are essential to future employee engagement programs.
Below are a few ways businesses can implement employee engagement best practices in everyday work:
Improve onboarding and training
Developing a comprehensive training program is a heavy lift for most organizations, especially in fast-paced, complex, or high-turnover environments. But this is where the employee experience begins, and companies must invest in tactics and tools that make it easier for employees to adopt training and for managers to enforce compliance, even in high-skilled positions.
Automate redundant tasks and workflows
Nothing saps productivity and engagement quite like mundane and routine tasks. Leaders need to find ways to automate tasks by either unifying systems or investing in new technologies that streamline monotonous workflows and amplify employee productivity.
Spending less time on routine tasks allows employees to be more productive by focusing on more meaningful, value-added functions that drive the business forward.
Enhance employee knowledge
Putting relevant data at the employees’ fingertips when and where they need it is crucial for most frontline employees and can be the deciding factor between positive and negative prospect/customer interactions. Although this can be difficult, artificial intelligence tools can radically improve employees’ access to necessary documentation or essential next steps and are becoming the standard within most enterprise companies.
Build a collaborative organizational culture
One of the leading indicators of unengaged employees is a lack of coordinated collaboration in the workplace. Tools like Slack and Zoom are increasingly being utilized to improve collaboration and company culture. Using Slack and Zoom apps (Donut, Polly, Kudos, and more) to enhance company meetings and bring employees together without disrupting other important work functions.