Lockdown has had a huge impact on most organisations, but the good news is that employee engagement in April and May has risen. Will this be a blip, or can organisations sustain these improvements over the longer term? We pinpoint six areas to focus on.
Leaders are key for engagement
Many staff have been very positive about their organisation’s response to the crisis and the way that communications have been handled. The crisis has been an opportunity for leaders to increase their visibility and demonstrate that they care. In the main, this has landed very well.
Leadership is a key driver of employee engagement and it would be disappointing if these gains are lost as we emerge from lockdown.
Help your leaders to understand what’s been working well with their new approaches. How can this be continued and developed further in the future?
Listening to your people is essential
We’ve had many organisations take our pulse surveys during lockdown, eager to understand how things are for people and what can be improved. Coupled with more visible leadership, this has been bringing about more engaging and trusting cultures, characterised by better two-way communications.
There may well be tough times ahead as organisations need to pick their way through the challenges of innovation, restructuring and change.
Keep the listening going so that your plans and communications are well-informed by your understanding of how your people are feeling.
There’s been a welcome focus on wellbeing, staff care and support
Organisations have recognised that their people can’t be effective if they don’t feel supported and have good psychological wellbeing.
Many organisations have stepped up the support they provide, including signposting to information and resources, as well as promoting and extending provision. Many managers have been more proactive in understanding and supporting their people.
In our Not-for-profit Sector COVID-19 Employee Engagement Survey conducted in April 2020, we found that wellbeing has deteriorated for a substantial minority, and there are also concerns over job security and amongst furloughed staff.
Keep a focus on wellbeing and in particular seek to understand where the issues are, and what support may be needed.
Look after your key workers
Another finding from our April survey was that key workers were less positive. These were staff who were not able to work at home because their role was providing face to face services often in social care settings
The issues here were about safe working practices including PPE, social distancing and cleaning. Organisations with key workers will be well aware of the issues and potential solutions and will wish to ensure that they continue to understand staff views and experiences over time.
Working from home has been working surprisingly well, but it’s not for everyone
All the evidence is that working from home has been surprisingly popular and productive. And having experienced it, many won’t want to return to the grind of the daily commute. They will want to work from home more and some may wish to couple this with a relocation.
However, there will be others who haven’t enjoyed home working, and will be itching to be back to the office as soon as possible.
Going forward the key is to create as much flexibility as you can. This will involve rethinking the role of the office, when you expect people to be there and how your key processes.
Technology is here to stay
Video conferencing systems like Zoom, Teams and WebEx have revolutionised the way we communicate and work. They’ve enabled us to feel connected and in touch with each other throughout lockdown.
Those who previously worked from home and therefore had to dial in to meetings which were happening in the office, now feel fully part of the conversation. And on screen, leaders are the same size as everyone else which perhaps gives everyone an equal chance to have their say.
As we emerge from lockdown, it will be great to be able to have face to face meetings again. But we predict that many organisations will wish to keep the virtual meetings they created during lockdown and use face to face meetings more sparingly than they used to. And there will be much to learn from organisations with long experience of virtual teams and long-distance management.
To help organisations keep in touch with their people we are running our Emerging from Lockdown programme of short surveys running in August and October 2020. Find out more here.