It’s been two years since the start of the pandemic and the working landscape has changed considerably. Flexible working practices, the prioritization of culture and access to mental health support have all become a need rather than nice to have.
Employees are voting with their feet when organizations aren’t open to prioritizing employee welfare and pursuing new, dynamic ways of working. But the companies that are embracing these new work practices need to move one step further. They need to create a compassionate culture that empowers their people to be their best selves, allowing them to thrive at work, but this takes dedication and time.
In this article, we explore how companies can reignite their workforces’ motivation in a post-pandemic world. Looking at the tactics to keep employee engagement levels high despite the catalogue of changes that workplaces have had to adapt to.
The importance of employee engagement
As a starting point, let us define what employee engagement really is. It’s the strength of the mental and emotional connection that employees feel towards their place of work. With true engagement comes a wealth of benefits for both staff and the organization. Engaged and happier employees means lower absenteeism and higher retention, which in turn extends to greater loyalty. This has a positive impact on all aspects of business from customer service through to higher sales results, all of which happily affects the profitability and productivity of the company. With better engagement also comes a sense of belonging, and the benefits of this are similar and widespread.
Engaging different generations in the workplace
For the first time in history, we have five generations in the workforce and companies need to make sure that they have company benefits that serve all.
Employers right now have the challenge of managing employee engagement initiatives and benefits that appeal to five generations. What works for Gen X won’t necessarily be up to par for Gen Z. There needs to be an expansion of traditional benefits and schemes that fit this new hybrid approach to working. Commuter benefits, tuition reimbursement, on-site meals and on-site child care need to now be traded or integrated with more flexible and holistic solutions such as off-site child care, health and wellness (including mental health) care packages.
It’s said that Millennials and Gen Z create strong emotional ties to an employer and they expect potential employers to be part of positive change and social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Workplaces that drive work-life balance and offer support for mental health are key to attracting this generation. Whilst Gen X and Boomers have a more formal relationship with organizations and will look to social justice and health focused schemes as essential traits from a future employer. It’s finding a balance between these desirable benefits and packages that will help stimulate motivation across generations.
Well-being at work and how it impacts employee engagement
The uncertainty of the pandemic shone a light on well-being and mental health challenges at work, but there’s still a stigma to be broken. Whether it’s from burnout or stress, companies need to address wellness on a scale far broader than ever before.
Team member’s mental health needs to be pushed up the agenda and seen as a strategic priority by companies. According to the American Institute of Stress they estimate that more than $300 billion is lost every year due to workplace stress; due to absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal, and insurance costs.
Well-being needs to move beyond a tick-box exercise and HR leaders need to ascertain what their employees need to be happy to remain in the organization.
Companies need to have a collective responsibility to enhance well-being across the board when they’re auditing ways of working and exploring how this impacts their workforce’s engagement. It’s essential to remove bias of both age and gender when seeking a review of company benefits. Anonymity is key to gain an honest picture of what employees need to stay motivated.
Having relevant well-being benefits that are tailored to a workforce is one thing, but communicating these perks efficiently, is another. This is paramount in helping staff realise what support a company has to offer whether it be parenting resources to health checks and bereavement counselling. A well rounded and comprehensive offering of wellness benefits, will help staff to feel valued and cared for, and this in turn promotes engagement and motivation.
How to increase motivation and empower your workforce
Whilst an increase in ROI and productivity is often the desired outcome for a business, first comes the need to retain key talent – and for that a motivated workforce is key. So where to start? Tactics to drive motivation need to begin at senior leadership level, and then spread downwards throughout the company.
Here, we share our 8 top-tips on how to empower your workforce to boost motivation and engagement to make sure that your people are always a priority.
- Create a supportive work environment – Respect and honesty need to be the main pillars to build this supportive network. Ensure that your teams experience job fulfilment by giving them the tools to do so. Consider creating or using an employee portal or a communication platform such as Slack, to build a work community but also to give the added benefit of sharing key information seamlessly, regardless if you’re office based or remote.
- Give prominence to teamwork – By allowing your people to create bonds with other team members, employees will feel a sense of belonging and this inclusion will help to aid retention and boost happiness.
- Show appreciation and reward achievements – Ensure management are reinforcing employee efforts with positive feedback. When tasks or projects are done well, those personalised tokens of appreciation will go a long way in showing that your company has taken note of individual accomplishments.
- Focus on providing workplace flexibility – Otherwise known as time management empowerment. Give your staff the ability to have flexibility around their schedule, deciding on their own work hours and location that will allow them to do their best work. It is now a given that employees will expect options around a hybrid or fully remote working environment.
- Provide constructive feedback regularly – By talking to your employees about what motivates them will help to provide a transparent feedback loop. They will feel empowered that they are part of this process, it’ll also help to aid their career paths as well as improving your organization’s retention strategies.
- Ask for input, ideas and insights – By creating a cycle of open communication for your employees to share their thoughts and opinions, you’ll help them feel as though they are part of the mission, driving that all important sense of belonging. Being heard truly matters and helps to stimulate creativity. Shared information goes both ways, and employees that are included in important decisions will feel valued and in turn motivated and loyal to the company.
- Demonstrate that team members are trusted – Place trust in your people’s ability to execute projects without micromanagement from above and allow room for mistakes to happen without retribution. Have an open door policy where your team members can approach you with their concerns or worries. This also needs to extend in giving financial transparency, in letting them run with their own budgets and funds in certain situations.
- Stretch each team member’s capabilities – Mentor team members that are driven towards moving up. This will in turn help nurture the next generation of leaders for your organization, and can be seen as a benefit to show talent that career progression is feasible. Provide opportunities for outside training and educational experiences for team members to enhance their knowledge and be up to speed on technological advancements.
So, the key takeaway from this is that empowering employees really matters. It can only lead to bigger and better things. Improved quality of work, lower employee turnover, increased productivity and therefore the quality of performance and customer relations, which leads to higher revenue. But perhaps one of the most far reaching and long-term benefits is that companies will build a strong and unique company culture, something that money simply can’t buy.