It’s easy for employees to become disengaged in their roles, especially in the current climate. The world is so unpredictable these days, that it can be difficult for employees to stay focused. This is where communication and employee engagement come in.
Jobs used to be a source of security. Now, though, with ever-changing rules and businesses cutting back or closing, that security is long gone.
This can lead to employees feeling undervalued and/or underperforming on their tasks.
It’s important you take steps to reassure them that you do value them, and want them on the team. Not doing this can lead to losing some of your top performers, increasing the strain caused by the pandemic.
Unfortunately, Gallup suggests that only 33% of people are engaged in their jobs. This has remained true even though the benefits of an engaged workforce have been proven time and time again. Caterpillar, a construction equipment manufacturer, saved $8.8 million annually by reducing absenteeism, attrition rates, and overtime in a European plant. They also increased profits by $2 million and customer satisfaction by 34%.
So what steps can you take to re-engage your employees? Here are some tips that will improve your communication and employee engagement, along with your culture, retention, and more.
Encourage open communication
Businesses talk about open communication a lot, but rarely actually practice it. This means employees won’t share with you what’s going on in their lives that could affect their work. As a result, when someone’s productivity suffers, the default is to punish them instead of supporting them.
When a company has a culture of open communication, employees feel more comfortable sharing their physical or mental health problems, or other situations which may impact their workload.
They’ll also feel more open to giving and receiving feedback, because it’s embedded in the company culture.
It may help to offer some sort of training around feedback and communication to help with this.
Too often, people assume they’re great at listening, but then talk over the person who’s speaking. Similarly, they may think they’re great at giving feedback but only focus on the negatives.
A brief training session—or even encouraging everyone to read a blog post on feedback or communication—reinforces that you’re serious about having a culture of open, honest communication. This is a key way in which communication and employee engagement deeply impact each other.
People’s lives have changed a lot in the last two years because of the pandemic. But many changes have happened outside of Covid-19, too.
Employees with elderly relatives may have become caregivers, or another employee may have been diagnosed with a chronic health issue. Employees rarely communicate these things to employers. They either don’t know how to talk about it, don’t think their employer will care, or don’t know what their employer can do.
If someone’s situation has changed, making simple accommodations like allowing flexible working or reducing their hours can show that you still value them and you want to support them as they adjust to their new normal.
Make them feel included in decisions
When companies make changes, they often fail to communicate them to employees in the right way (if they communicate them at all).
They simply announce the change to employees out of nowhere. This leaves employees feeling like they’re not valued and that their opinions don’t matter.
It’s impossible to make everyone happy when introducing changes. That said, it’s important to hear everyone’s opinions, even if they won’t change the outcome.
It isn’t about involving employees in every decision-making process (although if you can include them, they’ll always appreciate it). It’s about giving them the chance to have their voices heard.
People can get frustrated when it feels like they’re not being listened to. To remedy this, try running a survey, holding a drop-in chat where employees can ask questions, or inviting feedback via email.
These opportunities for openness and honesty encourage a positive atmosphere within the business, as well as keeping employees engaged. Changing your approach to communication and employee engagement can transform your company culture.
Ask employees what they want out of their roles
In smaller or newer companies, job descriptions can sometimes be flexible or hard to define. Leaders expect early employees to be jacks-of-all-trades, knowing a little about everything.
As the company expands, new opportunities become available. It’s important you offer these to existing employees as well as external applicants. It may just help you retain someone who’s great at what they do, but who feels disconnected in their current position.
Offer them the chance to retrain
If someone has been with a business for a long time, or their priorities/interests have changed, it can lead to them feeling bored or unstimulated. This can mean their performance goes down, and they may start looking for other opportunities.
However, just because someone is disengaged in that role, it doesn’t mean they’re not worth retaining or that they can’t excel in another position.
Always make it clear to employees—wherever they are on their journeys—that they can talk to you about moving departments or retraining should they start to feel dissatisfied.
This is particularly important for areas with high turnover or little room for progression, such as customer support.
If someone has the right mindset and their attitude is a positive influence on the company, see how you can support them, whether that’s through retraining, or helping them to move on by providing a stellar reference.
As much as you want to, you can’t keep everyone. Offering them support to move on shows them you respect them, and may encourage them to come back in the future.
Host team building activities
Team-building activities are a great way for employees to get to know their colleagues.
They’re even more important for remote teams, who may not get to bond with their colleagues in the same way that employees who spend every day in an office would.
Encouraging things like quiz nights, hackathons, or book clubs are just some of the ways employees can connect outside of their day-to-day work activities. Increasing interpersonal communication and employee engagement in this way can make all the difference.
Keeping employees engaged really boils down to one thing: making them feel like they matter. And the simplest way to do that is to listen to them and communicate openly.
You may not be able to offer a solution to the problem they’re facing, or have an answer for how they’re feeling, but you don’t always have to. To make people feel valued in any situation, it’s all about giving them the chance to feel heard.
If you want to provide more opportunities for employees to communicate both with each other, and with leaders, we invite you to check out Workrowd’s suite of tools. We’ve even streamlined the process of sharing and storing top-down employee communications. Paired with our automated employee engagement surveys, your workplace will have all the tools it needs to thrive. Visit us at workrowd.com or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.