The outbreak of COVID-19 early last year sent waves of stress and anxiety for businesses and employees alike. The pandemic crisis triggered many small businesses to make drastic unplanned organizational changes such as closures, employee termination and discharge, and remote work arrangements.
Not to mention the ongoing health crisis, all these abrupt company changes significantly affected the mental health, morale, focus, and productivity of employees.
In a study conducted by Ginger, 70 percent of employees agree that stress and anxiety brought by the coronavirus pandemic made them considerably less productive.
Even with vaccination rollout, as long as COVID-19 continues to pose a threat to the health and safety of workers, employee engagement will stay at its lowest. Nonetheless, organizations can always implement ways to keep their employees happy and engaged throughout this crisis.
Employee Engagement Defined
There is no exact definition of the term employee engagement. However, it covers passion, commitment, job satisfaction, and involvement of employees in their job.
Workers who genuinely care for the good of their organization will strive to help the company reach its goals, even when it means going beyond the job description.
In The New York Times article, it is said that there are four core needs of an employee that every employer has to address. These core needs include:
Accordingly, organizations that can provide these four core needs are likely to have engaged employees.
Why All the Fuss About Employee Engagement
There is a multitude of benefits for having engaged employees.
For one, engaged employees are more likely to give more effort when doing their job. Everything they do, from the time they get to work to the time they leave, only exudes positivity. Even if the task handed out to them seemed beyond their job description, they are willing to undertake it.
Second, engaged employees learn faster and recall information better since they see their work experience as a new learning opportunity. Furthermore, they are more creative in looking for solutions when they encounter issues at work.
Third and last, happier and more satisfied employees are brand ambassadors of your business. In their social media posts and personal interactions, they are happy and proud to say that they work for your company.
How Small Businesses Can Keep Their Employees Engaged
#1 Prioritize Employee Mental Health
There is a good reason why employee mental health has been a controversial issue lately. The impacts of COVID-19 cannot simply be brushed off.
What employers can do to reduce the mental and emotional strain of their employees is to expand the company’s mental health benefits and educate them on how they can use such.
Apart from that, companies should encourage their employees to use their leave credits. Drawing a line between personal and work life should also be emphasized.
#2 Keep an Open Communication
Communication is crucial for any productive manpower with high employee morale. All the more with remote work arrangements, employers should give more effort in checking in with their employees.
Encourage your workers to express their thoughts, job-related or otherwise. The lack of in-person communication right now left so many employees feeling burnt out and depressed.
Aside from surveys and feedback, talk with each of your workers. Your employees’ needs may have changed since the onset of the pandemic. Reestablishing their needs and expectations shows how much you truly care for their welfare. Perhaps they need help with child care or applying for personal loans.
#3 Clarity on Work Expectation
Most often, employers assume that their staff knows exactly what is expected of them at work. While it is true enough that employees do not need much guidance pre-pandemic, with the change in your organizational landscape, your workers need additional guidance.
This helps them better understand what the company expects them to accomplish at the end of the day.
#4 Provide Enough Resources
Several studies agree that employees with highly demanding and stressful jobs who have more access to job resources are more engaged.
However, rather than looking up resources that could make your team do their job more efficiently, consider giving your employees additional skills and training for their future development.
Doing this measure shows your employees that your business does not care solely about brand awareness or increasing bottom line, but it also puts value on the lives of its workers.
Engagement means putting a premium on your employees so that they feel passionate, fulfilled, and energized at work. Although it can be tedious and sometimes costly to put up measures to boost employee engagement for your company, you will see soon enough the long-term benefits it can offer to your business.