EngagementCoronavirus and employee engagement: a catalyst for long-term change?

Coronavirus and employee engagement: a catalyst for long-term change?

Could the impact of COVID-19 transform our understanding of employee engagement for good? Sam Alberti and Jill Christensen examine the state of engagement post-coronavirus.

When it comes to people and culture, employee engagement is one of the core pillars of a thriving workplace. However, its delicate nature means that it can be easily disrupted. The spread of coronavirus seems to be doing exactly that, with a combination of unusual working conditions and personal uncertainty causing workers to become disconnected.

More specifically, this can primarily be attributed to the onset of remote working; however, hysteria can often play a big part in these scenarios, distracting the employee from the task at hand.

Not only are leaders already beginning to express concern at this prospect, but, according to one study, 38% of workers said they became frustrated and disengaged due to anxiety caused by the introduction of new processes.

Jill Christensen, best-selling author and employee engagement, offered her take on this, first clarifying the importance of safeguarding employee experience.

“Engaged employees trust leadership and feel an emotional connection to the company,” she said. “Because of this, they go above and beyond. It has a major bearing on how much effort they choose to give.”

The same study also reflects this, showing that 71% of executives rank employee engagement as ‘very important’ to achieving organizational success.

Acknowledging this importance accentuates the scale of the concern for employers. If the commitment and effort levels of a workforce are dropping during a time where the company is attempting to adjust to remote working, this can pose a major threat to the efficiency and success of the business.

“I would not be surprised if global employee disengagement rises in 2020, unless organizations are deliberate about putting an engagement strategy in place,” said Christensen. “Data tells us that remote workers tend to feel more neglected and disengaged.”

However, this does not have to be an inevitability. Leaders have an important role to play in reversing the effects of these circumstances and can take a variety of measures in attempting to do so.

The study, conducted by Harvard Business Review, examines this in greater depth, quantifying the impact of employee engagement on performance

The study also details the most impactful engagement drivers. From a survey of largely senior-level executives, 72% cited recognition for high performers, 70% cited communication strategy and 69% cited the extent to which business goals are communicated and understood.

What's Hot

Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

Whitepaper | Talent Development Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

1w

Learning to win the talent war: how digital market...

This report documents the findings of a Fireside chat held by ClickZ in the first quarter of 2022. It provides expert insight on how companies can ret...

View resource
HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce 5 May 2022

2w

HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging ...

We know hybrid working is here to stay, forcing many organisations to experiment with innovative and creative strategies from 4-day working weeks to u...

View event
HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain 3 March 2022

2w

HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What...

We know the pandemic has caused many people to revaluate their careers and relationships with work and have been seeing the impact in global trends in...

View event
Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

Leadership Development Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

4m Dave Ulrich

Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simpl...

HR thought leader Dave Ulrich outlines ways leaders can deal with complexity in an increasingly busy world, including how to think critically and turn...

View article
HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making 5 May 2022

2w

HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Org...

Historically, HR hasn’t been as effective as it could be in sharing and communicating data with wider teams. It’s paramount that we remove the self-in...

View event
Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

Digital HR Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

4m Leah Belsky

Digital transformation investment grows but critic...

Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of digital learning on a global scale. Coursera's latest report provides an update on employee proficiency in a numb...

View article
Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

Employee Engagement Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successf...

Remote working has impacted the way we communicate as a workforce, but striking the right balance between creating an engaged workforce and a successf...

View article
How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

Culture How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

How to create a company culture capable of empower...

While new working patterns that emerged from the pandemic have earned a permanent spot in the workplace, creating a purpose-driven culture based ...

View article
WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid workplace

Leadership Learnings WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid workplace

4m Amy Kirkham

WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid wo...

Alison Noon-Jones, VP of People & Culture at Leidos UK & Europe, shares how crucial employee engagement and participation is when shaping the people s...

View article
Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your leadership

Leadership Development Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your leadership

4m Terence Mauri

Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your...

HRD thought leader and Hack Future Lab founder Terence Mauri sets out why the biggest risk to leadership is not turbulence itself, but leading with ye...

View article

In a time where remote working is not only widely accessible due to modern technologies, but essential due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that organizations implement or improve such measures to control the situation appropriately.

“Companies must create a strategy to effectively manage remote workers and keep them engaged,” said Christensen.

“Your organization will be off to a good start if your managers focus their efforts in three key areas: Connection, Communication, and Collaboration.”

However, there exists another dimension to this scenario. Not only can a concerted effort be made to remedy the current state of disengagement, but leaders can also use this as an opportunity to stabilise what is already a volatile landscape.

For instance, according to Gallup research, just 33% of American workers are engaged by their jobs. In addition, 52% say they are “just showing up”, and 17% describe themselves as “actively disengaged”.

This provokes a straightforward conclusion: virus or no virus, many employers have a lot still to achieve when it comes to fully engaging their workforce and unlocking their full potential.

Christensen offered her take on this, saying she hopes the situation could spell a permanent change in the way employers deal with disengagement.

“Many organizations approach employee engagement incorrectly,” she said. “They either outsource it to HR or ask a culture committee to fix the problem. Neither of these solutions work.”

Christensen, however, has her own personal remedy for disengagement, and bases this in culture and leadership.

“In order to re-engage employees, you must create a strategic plan to create a better culture and then put the plan into the hands of the people who have the most impact on engagement – frontline managers.”

Finally, Christensen says that organizations should “hold managers accountable for their progress” in this regard, ensuring that they have the greatest possible impact on the engagement of their teams.

In sum, the issue surrounding coronavirus and disengagement is multi-dimensional. First and foremost, leaders must step up in this time of uncertainty and apply their best efforts to reengaging their employees.

But secondly, this must be viewed as an opportunity to correct engagement pitfalls that predated the pandemic. Christensen argues that these engaging qualities – such as good communication and performance recognition – should occur year-round, and not simply as a knee-jerk reaction to crises.

As a result, it is plausible that the impact of coronavirus could create a landscape-altering shift in the realm of employee engagement. Many hope that this will see permanent changes in the way employers approach the challenge of engaging their workforces.

Subscribe to HRD Connect for daily updates on the future of work, including thought leadership, video interviews, the HRD Live Podcast and more.

Comments are closed.

What's Hot

Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

Whitepaper | Talent Development Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

1w

Learning to win the talent war: how digital market...

This report documents the findings of a Fireside chat held by ClickZ in the first quarter of 2022. It provides expert insight on how companies can ret...

View resource
HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce 5 May 2022

2w

HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging ...

We know hybrid working is here to stay, forcing many organisations to experiment with innovative and creative strategies from 4-day working weeks to u...

View event
HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain 3 March 2022

2w

HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What...

We know the pandemic has caused many people to revaluate their careers and relationships with work and have been seeing the impact in global trends in...

View event
Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

Leadership Development Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

4m Dave Ulrich

Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simpl...

HR thought leader Dave Ulrich outlines ways leaders can deal with complexity in an increasingly busy world, including how to think critically and turn...

View article
HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making 5 May 2022

2w

HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Org...

Historically, HR hasn’t been as effective as it could be in sharing and communicating data with wider teams. It’s paramount that we remove the self-in...

View event
Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

Digital HR Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

4m Leah Belsky

Digital transformation investment grows but critic...

Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of digital learning on a global scale. Coursera's latest report provides an update on employee proficiency in a numb...

View article
Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

Employee Engagement Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successf...

Remote working has impacted the way we communicate as a workforce, but striking the right balance between creating an engaged workforce and a successf...

View article
How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

Culture How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

How to create a company culture capable of empower...

While new working patterns that emerged from the pandemic have earned a permanent spot in the workplace, creating a purpose-driven culture based ...

View article