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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - Employee Engagement Is High. Here’s How You Can Maintain Momentum.

Tech and Innovation

Employee Engagement Is High. Here’s How You Can Maintain Momentum.

Meeting in office
  • Despite the difficulties of 2020, employee engagement is on the rise. As more companies embrace the hybrid workforce model, it will take a unique approach to keep your employees as interested and involved as they are now.
  • Remote work was a fun trend before the pandemic, but COVID-19 forced most employees to adjust to the telework lifestyle. The verdict? Overwhelmingly positive despite the difficult circumstances. PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that more than half (55%) of employees want to continue working remotely one to four days per week.

Considering how sudden the shift was, you might assume workers who telecommute are less engaged without organic office interactions. However, that’s not the case. According to Gallup, engagement increased to 39% in January 2021 — up from 36% at the end of 2020. Even the most notoriously disengaged workers (Millennials) are invested right now.

As the world returns to normal — or a new normal — most employers plan to adopt a hybrid workforce solution that meets everyone’s needs. The same PwC survey mentioned above indicates that 32% of leaders plan to increase how often employees telecommute.

To make a hybrid environment work, you’ll need to focus on employee engagement. Here’s how you can maintain this momentum:

  1. Move beyond Zoom happy hours.
    In traditional workplace environments, employees naturally move around throughout the day and interact with their co-workers. They’ll grab a coffee from the break room, stop by co-workers’ offices to ask questions, or talk together on the way to meetings. But in a hybrid workplace, you need to construct these touchpoints purposefully. Instead of adding another virtual happy hour to everyone’s calendar, you could host a cookie decorating class, guided painting lesson, or online yoga session.

    Austin Smith, CEO of Mission Control, recommends exploring gaming as an employee engagement tool. “An ongoing recreational esports league can regularly bring team members together and allow them to blow off steam,” he writes. “Leaders might also consider inviting employees’ significant others and family members, creating opportunities for deeper relationships despite the physical distance between team members. After all, it’s not just about the games — it’s about connecting with a community when in-person gatherings aren’t safe.”

  2. Create professional development opportunities.
    When growth stagnates or ceases entirely, engagement is next on the chopping block. Establishing opportunities for employees to develop and hone their skills will help them feel more valued and fulfilled.

    According to Matt Thomas, president of WorkSmart Systems Inc., modern training options leave little room for employer excuses. “With today’s technology, opportunities to coach and train employees are easier than ever before,” Thomas says. “Through online training platforms, such as Lessonly or TalentLMS, employees can log in from any location, watch recorded training videos, and complete course trainings based on their individual needs.”

    Employers and employees alike benefit from professional development opportunities. Try starting a mentorship program to encourage workers to pass on their knowledge, or give each employee a professional development budget they can use. No matter what route you take, employees will be more engaged when they know you care about their career paths.

  3. Encourage taking time off to relax and unplug.
    When they first left the office, employees might have relished the novelty of working from home. Since then, they’ve been receiving constant work emails and Zoom-ing their way through back-to-back video calls. According to a survey by Monster, an alarming two-thirds of employees are coping with burnout during COVID-19.

    Susan Heathfield, human resources and management consultant, explains that work-life balance can be one of the biggest challenges for a hybrid workforce. “With employees electronically connected to the workplace 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in the office or out, work and life balance is a challenge,” Heathfield says. “Set up the expectation, in your workplace, that when an employee leaves for vacation, it is okay to send an email that says he is on vacation with limited access to email. Honor the employee’s PTO by not contacting him unless it is truly an emergency.”

  4. Give gifts with company branding.
    You’ve probably heard of the tech company Palantir, which held its long-awaited initial public offering in September 2020. But have you heard about its T-shirts? Palantir gives out office-specific shirts to teams spread throughout the world, helping unite disparate departments and inspire camaraderie.

    Faith Bailey, a public relations intern at YouInkIt, believes company T-shirts can help build teams. “Providing employees with business swag creates a positive company culture by making employees feel like they belong to a community,” Bailey writes. “Your employees should feel proud to represent your brand in everything that they do. To encourage great company culture, it is wise to invest money in good quality products to give to your employees.”

    Quality is key, so a cheap mug or a flimsy tote bag won’t likely wow your employees. If possible, partner with brands that make quality goods and apparel that your employees will be excited and proud to wear everywhere they go.

Employee engagement is up, but whether it stays that way is up to you. By inspiring employees and investing in new engagement opportunities, you can smoothly transition your company into the new hybrid workforce model.

Written by Rhett Power.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - Employee Engagement Is High. Here’s How You Can Maintain Momentum.
Rhett Power
Rhett Power is responsible for helping corporate leadership take the actions needed to drive impact and courage in their teams that will improve organizational performance. He is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful (McGraw-Hill Education) and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company. After a successful exit from the toy company, Rhett was named the best Small Business Coach in the United States. In 2019 he joined the prestigious Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches and was named the #1 Thought Leader on Entrepreneurship by Thinkers360. He is a Fellow at The Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. He travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship and management alongside the likes of former Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and AOL Founder Steve Case. Rhett Power is an acclaimed author, leader, entrepreneur and an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.