What 2020 has taught us about employee engagement

What 2020 has taught us about employee engagement

As the year end approaches, many of us will begin a natural process of reflection which will help us plan for the new year ahead.

Employee engagement is a journey, not a destination and every year we learn new things that help us better support our people and our clients. This year has been no different. Despite the challenges and difficulties we’ve all faced, 2020 has delivered some real positives that we can take into next year. So, here’s a round-up of what 2020 has taught us about driving employee engagement.

Employee engagement is essential

Working in the employee engagement industry means that we have the benefit of knowing and understanding just how important employee engagement is. Once the pandemic began and we went into lockdown, it was interesting to observe how many businesses became more conscious of engaging their people as they went about implementing remote working. As a result of this, there’s a sense that it’s now more widely understood that employee engagement should be a priority for businesses to ensure they remain operational and competitive.

On top of that, employee engagement is a process that needs to be continually worked on and I think businesses have really felt this in 2020. Once you’re in a good place, you can’t be complacent. You need to consistently measure engagement and be seeking feedback to refine your approach to ensure that your employees truly feel valued, supported and have the ability to thrive in their roles. It’s a tricky task to do while facing a global pandemic, sure, but I believe more businesses now know what it takes to drive employee engagement than ever before. And if not, are willing to learn.

Trust is a key component of employee engagement

Probably one of the biggest changes we’ve seen implemented across the country, perhaps even the world, is the move to remote working. And for this to happen, yes all our wonderful tech teams had to put the infrastructure in place on a rapid basis (kudos to them!) but, most critically, organisations had to take the leap of faith to trust their people to deliver in this new way of working.

Research has shown that showing trust in employees results in 76% of employees feeling more engaged in tasks. So, I’m sure many businesses that have truly put that trust in place this year have seen a sustained, if not increased, level of productivity and innovation while also enjoying other benefits of employees offering their so valuable discretionary efforts.

Recognition helps to strengthen workplace culture

With more people working from home than ever before, it’s been a challenge to prevent employees from feeling isolated and disconnected from their business’ culture and community. Recognition has played a critical part in this by encouraging employees to support each other and lift each other’s spirits during this difficult period to highlight why they appreciate a specific colleague.

We’ve always known the power of saying “thank you” but this year has truly demonstrated just how much a difference it can make in uniting teams, spreading positivity and strengthening company culture in a virtual space. When all instances of recognition are displayed in one place like a social wall, for example, employees get a real sense of what’s going on in the business and really feel part of a special community of people all contributing towards a common goal and helping the business succeed.

The power of teamwork

Now looking back at the collaborative efforts of teams working within organisations during these difficult times, it’s been simply brilliant. It’s a natural desire for us to all to feel connected and part of something bigger at work, so it’s been incredible how teams have become closer during the year despite being physically further apart. Teams that previously struggled to meet in person now find it much easier to regularly catch up thanks to the likes of Microsoft Teams and Zoom, so there definitely have been some positives to come out of this new way of working.

The importance of creative communications

Here at peoplevalue, we’re proud of our community and work hard to ensure our team is engaged. There is no doubt that seeing each other every day face-to-face contributed to engagement levels and strengthened our community. Many of us had lunch together in our social area, chatted in the kitchen while making a coffee and generally had fun when we saw each other around the office. So, when the pandemic hit and we knew that we needed to shift to become a remote workforce, I have to admit I was concerned about the impact this would have on our special community.

Our spaces employee engagement hub allows our teams to recognise each other, share pictures and communicate quickly and easily throughout the day, but to really help our people feel connected and part of a community, we knew we had to also deliver creative internal communications.

As the year has gone on, we developed our internal communications plan to better suit the current situation. For example, we scheduled virtual coffee meet-ups twice a week to support the connectivity of our teams. These give our team the opportunity to catch up with each other and talk about non-work-related things. On top of that, during the first lockdown, we held a photo competition through our hub which gave everyone an insight as to what people were doing to keep themselves entertained. We’ve also hosted regular virtual company huddles to provide business updates, announcements and deliver our monthly employee recognition “Limelight” awards. We even did a fitness challenge throughout November which ran in parallel to our Movember charity event too.

All of these activities and events required creative communications which helped us maintain our company culture and community.

Written by Andy Caldicott, Managing Director at peoplevalue

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