Employee engagement is going through a revolution
24 February 2021 at 11:28AM
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The term ‘employee engagement’ has been around for a long time, and its true definition can be rather ambiguous and over-reliant on how a company chooses to implement it internally. Fundamentally, though, it focuses on how people express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally, as they interact with their jobs.
It is becoming more widely acknowledged that employee engagement is in fact seen as a psychological state experienced by employees. If the past 12 months are anything to go by, the psychological state of employees should be at the very top of a company’s agenda.
A recent survey of UK workers conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health’s (RSPH) revealed that 67% of employees who made the move to home-working during the pandemic felt less connected to their colleagues.
The survey – part of the RSPH’s Disparity Begins at Home report – also revealed that more than half (56%) of those who started working from home said they found it harder to switch off, and only 34% of the survey’s almost 700 respondents said their employer had offered them support with their mental health.
Despite the perception that more people are walking, running and cycling during the pandemic than prior to it, almost half (46%) of respondents were reported to be doing less exercise.
With feelings of social isolation, disconnection, disparate workforces, and lack of in-person leadership, coupled with the challenging home-working environment, blended work-life boundaries, and many people working longer hours than ever before; employee mental health is a high priority.
Employee engagement should no longer be approached in traditional terms, because the challenges facing employees are far greater than in the pre-pandemic world. It is crucial that companies address employee health and wellbeing in meaningful ways; to avoid the stress, burnout, and ill health that has been on the rise since the pandemic struck.
It’s also not a case of waiting until there is a problem before working to resolve it. Now is the time for organisations to proactively protect and nurture wellbeing through social connectivity, deploy initiatives to inspire and motivate their people, encourage activities that promote mental and physical health, and to ensure a healthy work-life balance.
Because the world, its organisations, and employees are all facing challenges that have not been experienced in recent history, it is unknown territory for many and in its rawest sense, employee engagement has to evolve with the times. It has to work to counteract the pressures of living in a world gripped by a pandemic, and to rebalance the swathe of negative consequences this is having on our mental and physical wellbeing.
Adaptation and innovation are core principles of the ‘revolution’ that is necessary in effectively engaging employees, and it’s certainly a philosophy that will carry through even in the post-pandemic world, as we collectively grapple with the challenges of the ‘new’ hybrid workplace and digitisation of company culture.
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