How to Keep Employees Engaged During a Pandemic.

Employee engagement. It sounds like a catch-all buzzword but is actually a data-driven metric used to measure employee job satisfaction, motivation, productivity, and retention. It is obviously a useful measure for leaders and managers to track and work to improve, the importance of employee engagement runs much deeper than one would initially think. Research has found that engaged employees: 
  • Produce substantially better outcomes
  • Treat customers better and attract new ones
  • Are more likely to remain with their organization than those who are less engaged
And, most critically during a global pandemic, “engaged employees are also healthier and less likely to experience burnout.” Since Gallup began tracking employee engagement in 2000, the metric has been incredibly steady, but 2020 was an exception. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, employee engagement was at all-time highs, actually rising in the early months of the pandemic before settling back to pre-pandemic levels in the fall.  It’s remarkable that employers were able to keep employees engaged during COVID-19—here are some lessons for leaders and communicators looking to do the same in 2021. Provide Frequent, Effective Feedback  In a remote environment, effective feedback has become all the more important. Gallup found that the more frequently remote employees received constructive feedback, the more engaged they reported to be. But feedback is not just about volume, it’s about delivery. For example, Sprout Social’s Elissa Boswell created a ‘getting to know you’ guide where team members shared how they give feedback and how they prefer to receive it.  Eliminate Uncertainty from Internal Communications  There is no quicker way to kill engagement among employees than uncertainty, especially in crises. Our flight or fight response has evolved to interpret the unknown as a threat. If you’re walking alone in the woods, fear of an unknown sound may keep you safe. But in a work setting, uncertainty triggers that same response and could kill employees' motivation. Cultivate Transparent Information Sharing One major roadblock to remote work is effective information sharing. In 2020, a majority of employees avoided sharing a document with a colleague because they couldn’t find it or thought it would be too difficult to find. And nearly 60% of those working in a hybrid environment missed out on important information because it was only communicated in person. Trello, a productivity software developer, recommends building transparency into all workflows and ensuring that there are frequent, open conversations. Even a simple step such as using public channels instead of one-off conversations to share information will ensure everyone has what they need to stay on track. 


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