Buck Bond Group
Engagement counts, more than ever before

Engagement counts, more than ever before

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In today’s environment, employee engagement is critical to retain and motivate quality staff. It’s also vital to help offset quiet quitting, wherein employees simply go through the motions in performing only the basics of the job. Hard-dollar costs of a disaffected workforce can include costs to replace lost workers, reduced productivity, and potential declines in customer service delivery.  

Some employers may think that given the challenging economic environment, including high inflation and fears of a recession, employees may be less prone to look for other opportunities. But that is not necessarily the case. Following the upheavals of the past nearly three years, employees remain restless. “Whether employees are stressed because of work,” reports Gallup in its State of the Workplace Report 2022, “or their stress is carrying over into work, one thing is clear: The world’s employees are feeling even more stressed than they did in 2020 (the previous all-time high).”

The emotional and financial losses experienced by workers around the world, along with deeper introspection about the sense of purpose they want at work and in other aspects of their lives, has led to a “great reassessment” – with many reconsidering their commitment to their jobs. Add employee frustration over return to work mandates, with employees wanting greater flexibility than some employers are willing to grant, and it’s a recipe for continued resignations. 

Engagement “booster shot”

So, how can companies increase employee engagement, particularly in this time of ongoing remote and hybrid work? 

Here are some strategies that can help.

Encourage face-to-face interactions: Social wellbeing and support counts; studies by Gallup and others show coworker bonds create a feeling of community and can enhance productivity and reduce attrition. Managers need to creatively and consciously facilitate relationships among workers. Partially or fully remote workers can be encouraged to take “touch-base/onsite days” rather than relying solely on remote meeting technology. However, time onsite needs to have meaningful interactions without simply being tethered eight hours on Zoom or Microsite Teams.

Listen and keep on listening: Ongoing pulse surveys and focus group feedback can reveal disengagement risks while demonstrating empathy as employees juggle pressures in work and home life. Such listening sessions can be framed to discourage excess venting and unreasonable demands, to focus on constructive ideas that address needs. Employers and managers can’t act on problems if they don’t understand the employee experience and identify priorities that need addressing in order to stay ahead of burnout and attrition. 

Get creative with workplace flexibility: Work/life balance is a big employee priority, especially given the pandemic era backdrop, and winning companies are getting innovative in addressing some of the simpler needs of employees: Promoting and modeling boundary-setting and balance, addressing the cost to commute, even tackling the time it takes to get to and from the worksite, are examples. Resources to meet unique subgroup needs, such as those of caregivers, can be pivotal.

Care holistically – for the whole person: Stress, isolation, and financial worries all affect a person’s sense of wellbeing and contribute to the continuing epidemic of anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges. Employers need to review, update and better integrate and promote wellness resources. In addition to encouraging good physical health, consider addressing the other dimensions of wellbeing:

  • Mental health – including EAPs and virtual coaching (and adequacy of available counseling resources), and resilience and mindfulness apps and solutions
  • Social health – through a culture supportive of diversity, equity and inclusion; recognition programs; Employee Resource Groups, community outreach and volunteering; and social channels in communications
  • Financial health – such as discount programs, voluntary benefits that can cost-effectively fill gaps, financial training and coaching, child/elder care assistance, free education, student loan benefits, earned wage access, emergency savings accounts, personal lifestyle accounts (or flex funds) and more creative solutions given current and ongoing economic stressors

Tout your total offerings. Creatively communicate and promote your total rewards—not only pay and incentives, but all basic and voluntary benefits, policies around flexibility, cultural attributes, respect for diversity, sense of community, and learning and development as well as upward mobility—and now more important than ever, the ability to derive a sense of purpose and meaning in one’s work.

Winning back employee trust

To help your business weather economic and business storms, it’s imperative to keep your workforce engaged. Building relationships, listening to employees, and caring for all aspects of wellbeing are issues all organizations need to address with sensitivity and imagination. 

We’ve seen that communicating with employees as openly and often as possible can increase trust, foster a sense of being appreciated, and improve job satisfaction. This, in turn, can lead to having a sense of purpose at work, so employees remain committed and prepared to put in that extra effort. After all, employees need a compelling reason beyond a paycheck to show up and excel each day.