Employee engagement and wellbeing have always been topics which Human Resources (HR) functions are tasked with monitoring and influencing where possible. The current pandemic has really elevated the importance of both, as they have become strategic imperatives rather than operational ones and are now even being discussed at a board level.
Employee engagement has a direct connection with productivity and profitability and as many studies by Gallup have shown that organizations with high levels of engagement tend to be more productive by around 22% and as a result more profitable.
However, due to the advent of work from home policies which have been imposed on companies because of the current pandemic; traditional forms of engagement are no longer effective or applicable. Especially since people are working remotely and the office environment is no longer existent in the traditional sense, in attempts to implement social distancing and limiting face to face interaction.
Therefore, HR within organizations have to be creative to adapt to the new normal and leverage virtual tools to keep the engagement of employees at a high level. Yes, it’s possible to be done remotely! Take an example of virtual learning using e-learning platforms, webinars or blended learning (e-learning and remote instructor-led) have become common place in many organization and if properly communicated to the employees and aligned to organizational goals then it can really boost engagement.
Furthermore, leveraging collaboration tools to host town halls or virtual gatherings which are not solely focused on work related activities can really minimize the impact of social isolation. In the month of Ramadan, many companies have replaced their traditional Ramadan gathering with virtual ghabgas or majilis.
Creating vibrant company-specific social activities that can also be showcased on social media platforms such as Instagram, can really create a nice harmonious vibe among employees even if they are working remotely. Ultimately, this harmony connects employees and reminds them that they’re part of a team rather on their own, which is possible to sense with the working-from-home situation.
While these measures can never truly replace face to face interactions, they have proven to be a welcoming distraction that’s capable of raising morale during the pandemic. Plenty of organizations that have adopted these cost effective measures have reported healthy levels of engagement when conducting internal employee engagement or pulse surveys.
As for the second incredibly important topic, wellbeing; people tend to focus solely on physical wellbeing. That was especially true at the beginning of the pandemic, where forward thinking organization took proactive measures to ensure they safeguard employees and their dependents wellbeing by allowing them to work from home and ensure they have all necessary support should they contract COVID-19.
It’s no secret that wellbeing is much more than the physical parts of people, it’s a lot broader and includes the mental health of employees. Successful organizations can, and should attempt tp help their employees where they can with their mental, and financial wellbeing.
The mental distress caused by the pandemic is often an overlooked element to wellbeing in the workplace. The many unknown and sudden changes in circumstances do impact people.
While no one can provide absolutely certainty to when this pandemic (will be over?) it is imperative of HR to provide assistance to employees to allow them to raise their mental resilience to cope with social isolation, fear of the unknown and being away from their families and friends. This can be done by hosting experts to conduct webinars or again using e-learning tools to provide employees with the knowledge and competence to enhance their coping mechanisms.
Aa for assisting employees with their financial wellbeing during these times, HR officials can organize financial webinars with leading practitioners. This can help them get advice on how to manage their finances or provide access to relevant learning materials to enhance employees acumen on how to better manage their expense.
HR in organizations which have embraced change and adapted their HR offerings to suit the current situation can really drive engagement and enhance wellbeing. In turn, this allows organizations to deliver business results while enhancing the employee experience and providing timely support. Eventually, they can emerge stronger post pandemic and gain a competitive advantage vs companies that stood still and were reactive during this time.