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How to maintain employee engagement on a budget during a crisis

The world has taken a knock with the Corona Virus pandemic and there’s a lot of uncertainty about, however businesses are trying hard to hold onto everything they have in order to resume some degree of normal operating. Many have been furloughed, sadly others have lost their jobs and the remainder are working from home, so for the HR function there’s a lot of pressure how to make the best with what they have. Employees are feeling fearful, somewhat disengaged while working from home and unsure of what their future may hold. So, more so than ever before, maintaining employee engagement is critical for organisations.

There's no value a company can attach to a team of employees which are engaged, passionate and happy, especially while working from home, during a pandemic. Engaged employees are priceless. Currently with very clear reason, employers are slightly hesitant to spend buckets of money on new initiatives, but there is so much which can be effectively achieved within a pre-determined budget to maintain and enhance employee engagement.

Recognise your employees
Feeling recognised and acknowledged is one of our basic human necessities according to Maslow. Thus a lack of recognition has the potential to have negative consequences, which can create a wave of disengagement and bad vibes like wildfire. Recognition doesn't only need to be about the bells and whistles, it could be as simple as taking the time to say "thank you" or "well done." Words go a long way, especially when not working face to face within an office environment. Alternatively investing in a more structured and formal reward and recognition programme can also do wonders. With everything from team nominations, peer-to-peer recognition and social recognition, the potential for engagement is endless.

Wellbeing and wellness
Looking after your employees' holistic wellbeing will engage the team. There is so much an employer can do to take care of their team from a wellbeing perspective. With the additional pressures society is experiencing at the moment, why not subscribe to a meditation App and give your team access so they can wind down in the comfort of their own home? You could do Zoom yoga classes where everyone could join and do together. An EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) which a lot of companies have in place can offer the emotional support which employees may well need. There is confidential access to GPs, Therapists and counsellors. Once your team feel well, they know they are looked after they will be more engaged in the company and their job role. A well-rounded positively healthy employee will impact on engagement levels, will reduce absenteeism, decrease staff turnover and ultimately impact the overall culture. 

Employee training and development
Employees like to feel challenged and that they have the opportunity to grow and develop. Disengagement happens when employees feel stagnant with nowhere to go. There are many ways to introduce this into your team, from having monthly learning days by team or department, to offering part time courses or online courses, to shadowing other team members or giving your employees time off to develop the skills they are after. If employees see there is growth opportunities, they have somewhere where they can move up and make a difference, the more engaged they will be.

Trust and respect the team

Trust and respect are free, it doesn't cost anything to give your employees the respect they deserve, especially during a pandemic while there's a lot of uncertainty. Firstly, don’t micromanage your team. If you recruit the right candidate to do the job, trust and respect that they will get the job done both efficiently and effectively. The majority of employees do not feel engaged when they do not have the freedom and autonomy to do their jobs. Micromanaging can have severe negative consequences with over 65% of employees saying their morale was dampened and 55% said it lead to a decrease in productivity. While working from home, it is so easy for management to over ask how a project is coming along, as the lack of face to face interaction is hard to gauge productivity. If you want to create a culture of engagement and productivity, give your team the space they need and be available to guide and support as and when is needed.

Focus on the Employee Experience (EX)
The employee experience is the sum of all the interaction an employee has with the company. Everything from interviewing, recruiting, induction, reviews, meetings, conflict management etc. Employers need to make the experience seamless, employee-centric and transparent. For many employees, they demand more than just a salary at the end of the month. They want a conducive working environment, they want to be heard, they want to be valued and want to feel as they belong. Employees feel engaged when they know they are a company's priority, that they are valued as they live and breathe the brand and are the actual ambassadors. Employers need to listen attentively to what its employees want and need, how improvements can be made and what critiques they have too. By taking this on board, not only will the workplace be in demand but employees will be more productive, there will be less absenteeism and retention rates will rise. 

Download our Employee Experience deck to find out how best engage your employees.  

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