In the current, pandemic-fuelled crisis, employee engagement is reaching surprising highs. Gallup research reports that, in the US, the proportion of “engaged” workers hit 38% in early May, setting a new record since the research firm started monitoring the metric 20 years prior.
Similarly, Cover reports that, in May, 32.2% of UK employers reckoned that staff engagement had exceeded the pre-pandemic level. Still, exactly how much engagement employers will unlock in their COVID-era workforce is likely to depend on executive decisions such as…
It’s important to differentiate between engagement and wellbeing – which, according to Gallup’s research, has fell to historic lows in the current climate. The crisis has, for example, stirred fears about health and finances – though employers can act to quell such concerns.
To this end, they can click here to see examples of financial discounts they could offer their staff. In a study by McKinsey & Company, workers were found to be four times likelier to be engaged if their organizations reacted in a particularly trustworthy way during the crisis.
Helping employees to feel safe and secure
Gallup has suggested that one reason for the fresh peak in engagement could be that workers still employed are feeling especially grateful to be in that position. Nonetheless, with the future path of the COVID pandemic remaining uncertain, those workers will likely long for a feeling of stability.
Employers can foster this feeling in their staff by showing awareness, vulnerability and empathy in their own leadership – and striking the right balance between realism and optimism in their forecasts.
Creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace atmosphere
If work colleagues of yours are among the over 30 million people who lost their jobs as the pandemic exerted its strong economic bite, you might have been required to shift to new work duties and processes to fill the gap that the vacated workers left behind.
In this situation, a fair and respectable workplace setting where equality is actively promoted can help to ease the difficulties of such makeshift changes in work responsibilities, research shows.
Connecting staff to a broader mission
Research has also shown purpose to be a major driving force in workplace habits. When people are pursuing a goal larger than themselves, they can more easily contend with volatile uncertainty and change while keeping their efforts in line with the highest-value activities.
In the McKinsey research, respondents who reported “living their purpose” in the workplace had four times higher engagement than cohorts who did not express the same sentiment.
Applying a tailored approach to the disengagement crisis
While the COVID crisis has evidently – on the whole – been beneficial for staff engagement, the Gallup research indicates that, in the US during the study period, 13% of workers remained “actively disengaged” – representing no change to the 2018 or 2019 figure.
This situation puts the onus on employers tailoring their approaches to suit individual employees’ situations and requirements. A staffer tied to the traditional office, for example, could face starkly different challenges to a colleague working from home.