Employee engagement has emerged as a critical concern, particularly when organizations are transitioning from remote work back to the office. From coffee break banter to high-flying brainstorming sessions, I've heard it straight from the watercooler gurus: the office must be an irresistible oasis of fun and fulfilment. So buckle up, because we're about to turn "I have to go to work" into "I can't wait to go to work!"
According to recent research, approximately 55% of individuals employed as of August 2021 have expressed their intention to seek alternative job opportunities within the next year. To combat the impending surge of employee turnover, organizations must prioritize the cultivation of employee engagement like never before.
Anirvachan Vasan, Global Head, Spardha, emphasized that employee engagement starts with fostering a positive culture. It involves aligning individuals with work they enjoy, leveraging their strengths, and ensuring they feel supported by colleagues. Face-to-face interactions play a pivotal role in this equation, as human beings are wired to connect through eye contact, body language, and micro-expressions. The challenge lies in adapting engagement strategies to the evolving nature of work.
"Human beings are not evolved to work online. We're not designed to interact solely through screens. Building a good culture and face-to-face connections are the foundation of engagement."
To foster connection, organizations can consider implementing team-building activities, cross-functional projects, and mentorship programs that encourage collaboration and relationship-building. This approach not only strengthens the bonds between employees but also cultivates a sense of belonging and camaraderie within the organization.
With the shift from remote work to the office, organizations must give employees compelling reasons to be physically present. Flexibility in scheduling and alternate work arrangements can promote engagement by acknowledging individual needs. However, HR leaders face the task of creating an office environment that genuinely energizes employees, moving beyond a mere checkbox culture.
"Companies need to create an emotional connection to the office. It's not about just showing up and working in isolation. HR must ensure that coming to the office is a resourcing and positive experience." - Anirvachan
Organizations can transform the office into a vibrant space by incorporating elements such as collaborative work zones, relaxation areas, and creative corners. Providing opportunities for social interaction, personal growth, and wellness can enhance employee engagement by making the office an appealing and inspiring place to be.
Anirvachan highlighted the potential of leveraging online platforms to design engaging activities. By using technology as an ally, companies can bridge the gap between remote and in-person work. For example, companies like Springworks have successfully implemented creative engagement initiatives that harness the power of the online workplace.
"We can use the very thing that has caused this divide—online work—to create captivating online engagement activities. Companies need to tap into the possibilities offered by technology."
Virtual team-building exercises, gamified learning modules, and online recognition platforms can facilitate connection and engagement among remote employees. Additionally, hybrid work models that allow for a mix of in-person and remote work can provide flexibility while maintaining a sense of collaboration and teamwork.
Traditional rewards, such as promotions and gift cards, have become commonplace. Anirvachan stressed the need for thoughtful recognition that resonates with employees on a personal level. Understanding their interests, passions, and aspirations can lead to rewards that touch their hearts, reinforcing a sense of value and belonging.
"Engagement requires thoughtfulness. Rewards should be tailored to each individual, acknowledging their unique contributions and aspirations. It's about creating an emotional connection." tells Anirvachan.
Customized rewards, such as experiences, learning opportunities, or support for personal goals, can go a long way in fostering engagement. Additionally, public recognition, peer-to-peer appreciation, and opportunities for professional development can create a culture of continuous growth and motivate employees to excel.
Job crafting can also be implemented, it is the process by which employees proactively modify their tasks, relationships, and perceptions to increase engagement and align with organizational goals. For example, an administrative assistant might take on additional responsibilities related to event planning, aligning with the company's goal of boosting employee morale and engagement. By expanding their roles, the employee not only enhances their own job satisfaction but also contributes to the organization's objective, fostering a positive and engaging work environment. Job crafting allows employees to shape their roles in a manner that benefits both themselves and the organization as a whole.
Anirvachan emphasized the role of leadership in fostering a culture of engagement. Authentic leaders who actively listen, inspire, and create a sense of purpose can fuel the engagement revolution within organizations. "Leadership sets the tone for engagement. When leaders lead with authenticity and inspire by example, they create an environment where engagement flourishes."
Leadership should focus on building trust, empowering employees, and providing a clear vision that aligns with the organization's values. Encouraging innovation, fostering psychological safety, and enabling autonomy can instil a sense of ownership and commitment among employees, driving their engagement to new heights.
In the post-pandemic era, employee engagement remains a powerful driver for organizational success. By prioritizing culture, reimagining engagement strategies for office and remote settings, offering thoughtful rewards, fostering belongingness, and inspiring through authentic leadership, organizations can unlock the true potential of engagement and create a thriving work environment. As Anirvachan aptly put it, "Engagement isn't just a buzzword; it's the secret ingredient to unlocking organizational success in the post-pandemic era." Embracing these insights will propel organizations towards a future where employee engagement is not just a metric, but a transformative force driving growth, innovation, and resilience.
Let’s Talk! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to feature in one of the issues.
Not just a newsletter, but your way into understanding
Learnings for HR
Insights from Aashish Punjabi