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How the Pandemic Has Changed the Face of Employee Engagement
15th April 2022
Employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment of an employee to the organisation. The term has varied meanings. For some scholars, more engagement means happier employees, for others, it is related to greater commitment and increased dedication from employees.
Employees ranking high on engagement try to cover an extra mile for the overall growth of the organisation and not just their gains. Some tangible benefits for the organisation are
Employees engrossed in their assigned task are more likely to show better results than those who are connected to the organisation just for the sake of material benefits. Moreover, they spend less time wasting office hours and work more than expected.
Increased customer service
Employee satisfaction reflects in their actions. The same attitude transfers in their interactions with customers or target audience. Satisfied employees is a symptom of getting ahead in the competition as well.
Positive work culture
By retaining the best workforce, managers create role models for the newer generation. Long retained employees are an asset in mentorship and guidance purposes as well.
From reduction in payroll to loss of jobs and increased stress of job security, the pandemic has changed the conventional work culture, eventually changing the employees' engagement with the organisation.
Factors which contributed to the decline of employee engagement are multifaceted and contingent but some are common in all cases such as
Lack of social interaction
For employees who have worked in offline mode, the whole virtual shift is enough to take a toll on their mental state. Lack of face to face conversations has reduced non-verbal cues and a large chunk of employees are feeling asocial to the organisation.
Sitting at one place with a laptop on for eternity seems nothing new for work-from-home employees. Lack of physical exercise and social strolls resulted in worsening of mental stress and exhaustion.
Financial and emotional loss
Many employees lost their close ones during the pandemic. On one hand, they are struggling with the financial consequences of the pandemic. On the other, emotional loss is at its peak.
Impact on employee engagement
Due to the above-mentioned reasons, it becomes challenging for HR professionals to make employees engaged with their work. Employees are feeling fearful and detached from their roles. Job satisfaction and engagement are directly proportional, the lack of one is resulting in degradation of the other. The virtual model has made internal communication in the organisation difficult. Chances of misinterpretation/ misunderstanding are higher than ever before.
Study shows that employee engagement has been declining 30% to their diverted interest. Due to the financial crisis, some are busy finding more than one source of income to support their household.
Lack of engagement is also shown in leaders' behaviour due to a less active workforce. The sudden firing of colleagues and reduction in payments is another reason for increasing questions on the status of the organisation.
Major shifts and impacts
- Everything turned virtual
- Slow and ineffective communication
- Loss of interest in the job
- Lack of coordination among teammates
- Physical and mental health deterioration
Importance of engagement in tough times
Retained employees create a positive office culture for others. Their experience and expertise result in the revival of the organisation in tough times i.e Covid-19 pandemic. After a loss in revenue, leaders often look for upward support from the employees. A charismatic leader and dedicated employees are all you need to redevelop your business again.
Despite negative impacts, we all can agree on the fact that we learnt to adapt to the "new normal". Here are some of them.
Lessons learnt from pandemic
Made technology our best friend
We all have adapted to innovations for the greater good. Even old school employees who used to call themselves "not compatible with technology", learnt and explored varied software during the pandemic. Our day is incomplete without using video conferencing, Slack, MS Office, Zoho and Evernote.
Became vigilant about mental and physical health<
In competitive corporate cultures, a healthy lifestyle is a far cry. Pandemic taught us not to be the older "Self" again. We all started exercising, meditating and trying to love our life a little more.
Keeping a track of health conditions (including mental health) helped us in being concentrated and avoiding unwanted problems.
Learnt Importance of upskilling
Let's take the example of X.
X lost his job as a PR manager during the pandemic. He applied to other companies at first but after numerous rejections, he started learning graphic designing. After 2-3 months of persistent effort, his freelancing career kickstarted
This shows us the importance of learning consistently. Even in permanently secure jobs, try to explore other domains as well. You never know what's there in life's pandora box.
The unpredictable risk of the pandemic brought the managers in the spotlight. Managers realise the challenge of diverse problems of employees and come up with a solution - autonomy; giving them control of their work. Results were overwhelming- more effort, commitment and persistence in actions?
Valued Work-From-Office time
Last but not the least, we all realised the importance of offline hours. Picking coffee from vending machines to annual social events, "Office blues" weren't that bad:-)
To sum up, the pandemic has changed the face of employee engagement completely, leaving us to adapt to the post-pandemic world. After the storm, we have learnt a bunch of life-saving skills- including how to make employees more engaged with their work.
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