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Engaged employee working remotely during covid
5 Min Read

5 Employee Engagement Trends In The Post COVID Era

Leah Bury

The term “employee engagement,” isn’t a new one. But since its original concept in 1990 and now, the way we view engagement in the workplace has shifted dramatically. The emphasis is no longer on the employee to be happy, but rather, on the employer to ensure each employee feels fulfilled in their role, supported by their manager and leaders, and connected to the company’s purpose.

Currently, people across the nation and the globe continue to experience the high levels of stress that were initially brought about by the pandemic. As we face an economic downturn/shifting tides after the Great Resignation to potential mass layoffs and uncertainty, it is going to be super important for organizations to keep the pulse on employee sentiment and engagement levels.

Here are five employee engagement trends and tips to help you make more informed decisions about your people strategy in the midst of a crisis.

1. Embrace flexibility

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 50 million jobs are currently work-at-home capable. For many job functions, there are no definitive reasons to require people to come into the office every day, or for work to be done between 9 am- 5 pm. And although there are certain roles that don’t have the same opportunity as most to be remote—think, health care, retail, services industry, etc.—we have come up against an enormous opportunity for the majority of the nation to migrate into a flexible work environment.

While some companies are beginning to return to office, many are maintaining the option to work fully remotely or adopting a hybrid work model. The reality is that the great shift to remote work during the pandemic ushered in a new wave of working norms that will stick with us for the long term. With this shift comes a lot of opportunity to reimagine what work looks like, and make it better for employees so that they can do their best work.

2. Reimagine the employee experience

If asked a few years ago, most HR leaders would have likely shared their vision for an employees’ experience to be centered around wellbeing, work/life balance, collaborative office culture, and luxury work perks, like gym memberships or learning and development stipends. But today, we’ve had no choice but to rethink what the employee journey looks like, as there are now many more factors affecting employee morale. 

Expecting your employees to leave personal problems at home is impossible, especially for remote employees whose work and home happen in the same location. And many of the work perks previously offered may not be accessible due to social distancing or the shift to remote work. Although it’s an enormous responsibility to take on, HR leaders are having to rethink the overall employee experience in order to support every individual through difficult and changing times.

3. Bring compassion to every conversation

“High performing leaders of today are different. They’re empathetic, they think about people and society, and they really listen. There will always be financially-driven executives, but they’re getting pummeled and won’t be effective today,” says leading industry analyst, Josh Bersin.

While there are so many uncertainties we face during times of crisis, one thing is for sure: we’re all in it together. Times of turbulence are the perfect time to take the opportunity to help form more meaningful relationships with your people. These relationships are what help build more resilient workforces, drive up employee engagement, and help employees avoid burnout — and they will contribute to the speed at which your business recovers.

4. Focus on developing your talent

Before the world knew that COVID was at our heels, the business world was facing another threat—a talent shortage. One survey shared that 69% of U.S. employers say they struggle to find the talent they need, and during a time when budgets are being slashed, and in worst cases, layoffs, reskilling your employees is more vital than ever. 

One way company leaders can avoid facing a talent shortage is to re-envision their org chart. Think of your company as a “talent marketplace,” where employees are part of a network and can be assigned to new teams when their skills are needed on a project. This flexibility requires knocking down traditional hierarchies and allowing people to work on projects that energize them and where they can contribute.

5. Leverage employee strengths to drive engagement

Organizations spend around $720 million every year to measure engagement. But according to Gallup, only 36% of the workplace is engaged, and 64% are either miserable in their role or simply going through the motions.

Because performance can’t be directly managed, it’s important to understand what areas of an employee’s role drive behaviors that directly impact performance, and to help your employees find and apply their strengths to their careers. 15Five’s Strengths Discovery feature makes it seamless for employees to find and communicate their strengths so they can succeed in their current roles and pursue their career goals. It also helps employees communicate their personal values and create alignment with their work duties, which in turn advances their engagement and motivational drive.

Overall, businesses can be viewed as a living, breathing entity. It undergoes change, it grows, and it also recedes. A business can break, but it can also heal. Each of these employee engagement trends will be vital in your company’s recovery and will ensure that your people remain taken care of, productive, and engaged—during a crisis, and beyond.