More than nine months have passed since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic Covid-19. Hundreds of millions of people have lived through lockdowns. Many have made the abrupt shift to working from home. If there is one thing we can all agree upon in 2020, it is that it has been a year of severe disruption for most companies. Particularly for HR and Benefits leaders who are grappling with many employees now working remotely, the loss of day-to-day team interactions, in-person meetings, and workplace camaraderie, means that it’s harder than ever to measure employee engagement.
Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection of employees feel toward their places of work. Employee engagement is often used as a catch-all term for employee job satisfaction, motivation, productivity and retention. Measuring employee engagement helps you gain insight into what your employees think your organization does well and areas to improve.
The uncertainty has crushed the economy, employees are in stressful situations, and HR professionals are trying their best to keep everything in perspective and aligned. The top priority for HR professionals is now crisis response and how to keep the employees engaged, provide the right communication channels and tools for remote work, and more. The top challenges that managers are facing due to covid-19 are as following:
- Managing remote work
- Lack of agility
- Employee communication
- Employee engagement.
Companies start to notice the signs of disengagement when employees lack energy and motivation, only put in enough effort to do the bare minimum, do not appear to be committed to the task at hand and lack focus. The traditional methods of in-person reviews aren’t available so how HR teams measure and optimize employee engagement during Covid-19 and, many employees are feeling a heightened sensitivity over sharing too many personal details since many are grappling with trying to juggle kids at home, anxiety over Covid-19, and uncertainty about the future.
Now companies should adopt the following practices to engage employees during this pandemic such as management team to measure employee engagement, consider bringing in an outside, neutral research agency who can conduct in-depth interviews (unidentified) with your employees to get feedback on how engaged employees are as well as what their needs are during this exceptionally difficult time. There are multiple ways that an outside research agency can collect employee feedback, but the most effective way, during high-stress times, is to use the format of in-depth interviews, instead of relying only on surveys (even when surveys are anonymous).
A research agency will interview your employees, one-on-one, over the phone, in an interview lasting 30 minutes up to 1 hour. The researcher will cover key points and themes that are pertinent to your company, with the goal of understanding where employees are at, how they’re feeling, what their concerns are, and what can be done to help maximize their engagement. The conclusion of the interviews, the firm will analyze the responses and compile the results anonymously in a report that identifies the key themes, barriers, and opportunities for improving employee engagement during Covid-19.
The advantage of neutral agency work with your firm interviewing them, anonymously. Employees will feel more at liberty to share their current experiences and advice on ways they want to feel supported for optimal engagement without fear of the effect on their jobs or careers. Measuring employee engagement is a challenging task. Coming up with good questions, preparing the questionnaire, and ensuring a high response rate are all critical parts for taking a successful measurement. There are the following recommendations about how to improve employee engagement:
- Choose the right tools from video conferencing to group collaboration. It’s important to choose the right communication technology for your team.
- Take a supportive management approach
- Create a positive work environment
- Encourage trust in leadership
Engaging employees has become very essential in today’s pandemic situation due to COVID‐19. Organizations know very well that engaged employees are the key to success in this tough time. That is why businesses must look forward to keeping their employees satisfied and motivated through the engagement of employees during pandemic circumstances.
Submitted by Ramsha Ibrahim, Date 01 January 2021.