No doubt, the pandemic took its toll on employee engagement programs, as organizations have struggled just to keep their people working. With the return to a more normalized, though in most cases, modified workplace, leaders are scrambling to reinvigorate or launch new initiatives designed to improve the employee experience. As important, strengthen their people’s connection to the mission, values, and strategies of the organization.
However, there’s a problem. The shift to remote, hybrid, and mixed attendance workplace has alteredthe bar for what employees are looking for from their workplaces. A recent global study by McKinsey & Company indicates that, across the board, employees want and expect more flexibility in their work hours, whether working remote or on premise. They want to spend more time on meaningful work and less time participating in programs and initiatives that don’t have a clear purpose and personal benefit.
For sure, employees still want to be valued, listened to, and recognized by managers. But, in the new workplace, theresearch suggests traditional employee engagement methods such as surveys, feedback and listening sessions, town halls, suggestions systems, and the like may no longer be enough to strengthen employee connections to their organizations. The results is diminished willingness by employees to go the extra mile when required.
How can leaders close this emerging employee engagement gap? In our experience, it’s no more complicated than leaders making a renewed effort to engage employees in their “agenda.” Thisrequires translating organization strategic priorities into opportunities where employee ideas can make a real difference. It also requires re-discovering what real employee engagement has always been about:Valuing the potential in employee ideas and being willing to empower employees to the put their ideas into action.
Engaging employees by trusting the wisdom of their ideas is not a new strategy. But it can be a big leap of faith for some leaders, particularly in times of uncertainty. How can leaders find the intersection between what the organization needs to accomplish and where employees can add value and find additional meaning for their efforts? Here are five simple criteria for making the connection:
- Can employee ideas improve results on this key objective?
- Will employee engagement speed implementation?
- Will employees be motivated to work on this objective?
- Are all leaders onboard with empowering employee to put their ideas into action?
By rediscovering the foundations of employee engagement (along with investing in the tools and coaching resources to ensure success),leaders can achievebigger and faster results, while strengthening employee connection to the organization.
Rick Tucci is CEO of Leap Academy, a firm focused on helping organizations optimize their human capital. Visit www.impactfaster.com for a tour of their all-in-one platform for engaging employees in executing organization objectives while building a culture of that helps employees find more meaning in their work.