By Richard Clough, Media Strategy Manager - Employer Brand Advisory
When things are going well, everything seems easy. From the phone calls you make to every interaction, they all feel positive. For many, this is how it was for years, yet what we didn’t know at the time was this was just ‘normal’. Hitting targets, being rewarded, taking holidays – it’s what we did. Then in 2019 Covid struck, and everything changed. Fast forward three years, and we’re all paying a heavy price.
Costs are rising, wages are static, our mental health has been compromised and what once came easily to us feels like a distant memory. This, coupled with the exponential amount of pressure on everyone, means people’s behaviour can quickly change.
Previously high-performing and cohesive teams can become fragmented. Dissatisfaction can become an all-consuming focus, and a constant distraction. In isolation, these things might not appear to matter and could simply be misconstrued as ‘people being people’. But it’s not the case. Do not underestimate the power of the grapevine; once an actual ‘chat’ during breaks, is now something that only takes place on Teams.
At times of uncertainty, employee engagement must be carefully nurtured. It’s important to be aware of and focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t. Here, we explore six ways you can easily achieve better employee engagement:
- Gratitude – Whether collectively or individually, you can thank everyone for their contribution, reminding them of how valued they are. It might seem trite, but the underused word ‘thank you’ goes a long way to making people feel differently towards their work.
- Openness - Give your teams an open forum for discussion where nothing is off-limits, and nothing is recorded. Where they can share their concerns and opinions in a group environment. We’ve done this at AMS, calling it ‘Frank Fridays’, where the whole team is invited and encouraged to be frank. It’s fun, but sometimes there’s a serious undertone: ‘If we’re doing well against our budget, how come we aren’t backfilling Dave’s role?’, for example. But it’s these kinds of conversations that, if left, can breed anxiety. So, open the debate.
- Recognition - When the opportunity for hiring comes, always aim to promote from within. Recognising and rewarding existing talent sends a clear and positive message, which exalts the values of the business.
- Development - For those who have unsuccessfully applied for internal roles, it sets up the perfect opportunity to create a development plan based on a tangible outcome. By identifying gaps in an individual’s skillset and providing targeted training, it will close the gap and increase their chance of success for future applications.
- Training – At AMS, we have a dedicated training resource platform we can draw upon at any time. But for those that don’t, the web has a wealth of training material (some accredited) that can be tapped into, providing employees with skills to be even better at their jobs. Employees often need these resources to be signposted and given ‘permission’ to pursue the training as part of their working week. My team have recently upskilled and improved their outputs after completing LinkedIn accredited training courses in running successful paid media campaigns.
- Flexibility – We all like a bit of flex, but is everyone aware of the extent of flexibility existing within your organisation? At AMS, we’re fortunate to be able to work almost anywhere. For most, this means working at home or being around for school pick-up and not having a commute home. But what if you took it further? You could ‘Air BnB’ your home for a month in the summer, leaving to ‘live’ overseas. Or, with a global footprint, you could encourage staff to do a house-swap. Australia anyone?! There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking here but getting people to think differently about the benefits they enjoy can help them re-evaluate their feelings towards them, and how important they are.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather an example of just some of the things we can all do as managers to help people feel more engaged. There is no financial investment required, only time, which is something we’re all short of but that we all have. It’s just a case of carving out some of it for your people, and their engagement.
Ultimately, it’s about creating a deeper sense of belonging. Helping your teams to feel that they are part of a thriving community. A place where their contribution really matters, and where they feel truly valued for the work that they do.