When it comes to the success of any business, employee engagement is a key factor that each employer needs to strive for. This factor has an impact on everything from productivity to that all-important bottom line. It can also be used to measure how happy employees are and how effective managers and HR departments are. If you are not paying attention to your employee engagement levels, then you risk losing unhappy employees to other companies, giving those on HR departments more headaches.
The new working normal
Whilst Covid restrictions have been lifted, things have certainly not returned to their pre-pandemic normal on the business front, and there are some clear indications from businesses that things may not return to how they were before. For many employers, the working from home rule has been something of a revelation, showing them that employees can work well from home, and should be allowed to continue to do so, at least part of the time.
According to recent research in February 2022 occupancy levels in UK offices hit their highest figure since the beginning of the pandemic. However at a rate of just 27.5 per cent these figures are a long way from reaching the high levels that everyone was expecting; normal occupancy levels for most offices is around the 60 per cent mark. In fact these kinds of figures mean that many companies are even considering the possibility of downsizing their office space whilst introducing a more hybrid working style. Hot desking, working from home, team meetings carried out via video conferencing; these are all things that companies are implementing, and while this can give the HR department more tasks to keep on top of, not being able to easily meet employees in person, it can benefit them; as a happy workforce, wherever they’re working from, are less likely to leave their roles.
What does all this mean for the employer?
Studies have shown that when employees are happy in their role there is a greater chance that they will stay with their current employer. Employee engagement is a vital tool that is employed by HR departments within any company in order to help promote a happy working environment and keep staff retention high. It is one thing to put measures in place to ensure that this is happening when everyone works in the same physical office space, but quite another to achieve similar results when a workforce are remote or a hybrid working pattern is used.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is defined as the degree to which the employees of an organization are willing to go that extra mile, have a profound connection to the organization that they work for and work with passion.
There are three defined and completely separate levels of employee engagement that should be considered, and the employees who fall into each of these categories have specific behaviors and attitudes that differentiate them.
- Engaged – individuals who are involved in the company and highly invested. They have enthusiasm not only to their role but also the company mission overall.
- Not engaged – individuals who have a somewhat neutral attitude towards their role, they are never late, and lack any motivation to do tasks beyond the basic requirement of their job description.
- Actively disengaged – individuals who lack engagement and also have negative feelings of resentment. This attitude has the potential to drive a person to act in such a way that the company is undermined.
Research has shown just how important good employee engagement can be. Those companies who have a higher level of engagement are likely to have:
- 22% higher productivity
- 21% higher profitability
They are also more likely to have a lower staff turnover, fewer safety issues and also fewer quality issues – all of which will benefit the company.
So how do you achieve this with remote and hybrid teams?
If you want to ensure great levels of employee engagement with those employees who are no longer office based, then the HR department needs to put a few measures in place:
- Make sure that they have the technology and tools they need to do their job
- Ensure proper training has been put in place, whether courses for PMs, or onboarding training for new employees. This should include appropriate leadership training for any managers – this can be done virtually in many cases. Where leaders will be expected to handle remote or hybrid teams, arranging training that caters specifically to this could boost engagement considerably.
- Consider interpersonal relationships; when employees work together in an office it is likely they will socialize. Consider how you can achieve this with remote and hybrid team members – could remote quizzes be held, with breakout rooms? Perhaps training for PMs, new employees and other CPD courses could be delivered in this manner too.
- Encourage employees to check in regularly – schedule catchups but also allow employees to lead the interaction – perhaps bookable HR department consultations could be held regularly to talk about career paths and potential opportunities.
- Conduct employee surveys and use the data to improve the way things are done
- Prioritise the wellbeing of your employees – send out regular memos pertaining to coping with stress, work/life balance and opportunities to chat should they need to.
- Recognise contributions from employees because this can go a long way to improving employee engagement.
The bottom line for any employer who wants to improve their employee engagement levels with a team who are predominately remote, or hybrid workers is to actively engage a little more than they would for an office based team. This is significantly easier than it might have been just a few years ago thanks to the huge improvements that we have seen in video conferencing software, home office broadband speeds and perhaps most importantly the understanding that employers have around just how important good employee engagement is. With a few simple measures you can avoid your employees being part of the staggering 59 per cent of the UK workforce who when polled stated there was a high likelihood they would be looking for a new job in the next 12 months.