How can you spot an engaged employee? An emotionally engaged employee is more motivated, content, passionate, and committed to their job and their employer. Per a recent Gallup poll, in January 2021, the engagement rate was at 39%, which is higher than it was at the end of 2019 (pre-pandemic), of 35%.
All this despite what a difficult year 2020 turned out to be. It was arguably one of hardest years many of us have faced, for a variety of reasons. The impact on our emotional, physical and mental health has affected nearly every area of our lives. It stands to reason that the pandemic, racial unrest and polarizing political events of last year had an impact on the emotional health of your employees.
Speaking of the term “workplace”, that changed too, didn’t it? Pre-pandemic, most employees got into a car, drove to a destination, and carried out their work responsibilities there. The pandemic necessitated a dramatic change to how many people work, and where they work. Dining rooms, guest rooms, and basements, (and in some cases, a closet), became more common workplaces.
In addition to the upheaval of the working environment, people worried about their health; the health of their friends and loved ones; faced financial uncertainty; dealt with childcare obstacles as schools closed; and missed on many aspects of their lives they took for granted. The disruption to our lives has taken its toll. Many employees ended last year feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and emotionally depleted.
But let’s focus on the positive for a minute:
- The stress and financial drain of a daily commute has been reduced or eliminated entirely for some; and
- Many people have reported that they enjoyed the extra time with their families and pets as a result of commuting time, social obligations, and errands being removed from their lives.
Why is it important for employees to be emotionally engaged?
- When employees are happy, it helps to create and sustain a positive work culture and environment. (Positivity is contagious!)
- Emotionally engaged employees are more productive; their contentment with their role motivates them to exceed their goals.
- Due to all of this contentment, working relationships will likely thrive.
- When people are engaged, they are committed to their company’s vision, mission and goals.
- All of the extra effort and passion of these happy employees leads to higher levels of customer and client satisfaction, which often results in stronger profits for your organization.
- When an employee is motivated and happy to work, absenteeism is lower and so is turnover, which is fantastic for the business and morale.
How can I tell if my employees are emotionally engaged?
There are ways to learn how engaged your team is, and the key is being proactive, not reactive!
- Observe their job performance and productivity patterns. If there is a sustained dip in either of these, it is an indicator that people may not be happy in their jobs.
- Take a look at your turnover and absenteeism rates. If these are high, that is often a sign that people are not as motivated in their jobs.
- Ask them! While you can use surveys for this purpose, open and on-going dialogue is best. Ideally, regularly scheduled one to one “check-ins” between managers and their employees will facilitate some honest discussions about how things are going.
- Professional development interest can indicate how engaged an employee is with their employer. If they are striving to take on new projects, are interested in advancement opportunities, and enjoy learning and new challenges, it is a great sign that they are committed to your organization.
- “Stay” interviews are a fantastic tool! The employer can learn more about why their employee likes their job, what they are not as happy about, and will often provide valuable information and insights into what makes your organization a great place to work, and what areas need improvement.
Even with the increase from 2019-2021, 39% is still on the low side of employee engagement.
Let’s work to get that number higher this year!
Here are some ways to help your employees become more emotionally engaged and happier at work:
- If you do not already have one in place, consider a Mentoring Program for your employees.
- Put together a thoughtful onboarding program. The introductory period can be difficult for many people. It also sets the tone for their experience at the company. A program with careful planning, training, strong communication and availability of support can go a long way. First impressions matter!
- Prioritize wellness! This can include flexible work schedules, generous PTO offerings, an EAP program, and fostering work/life balance.
- Invest in your employees by offering professional development support. This can include reimbursement of learning expenses, and paid time off for study and attending professional events and classes.
- Frequent one to ones with employees, initiated by the employee or the manager. Listen to concerns with an open mind. If you promise to make an improvement, follow through.
- Recognize employee contributions. This includes the smaller, everyday tasks that can be taken for granted. If someone compliments an employee, make sure you pass it along to them! Praise people in a public way, as long as they are comfortable with it.
- Encourage and embrace innovation. When a team member has a new idea, be receptive to it. Many younger members of the workforce, in particular, love an opportunity to make an impact.
While an employer cannot change the events going on in the world, they can work to create and sustain a more positive work environment. If your goal is a workplace with happier employees, let’s work on making them as content and engaged as possible!
Interested in other current employment trends? Click the link to view the recent blog: The Value of a Mentor Program for Your Employees – and Business! or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.