A happy, engaged workforce is the key for businesses to get through a second lockdown
by Simon Johnson, General Manager, UK and Ireland at Freshworks
With regional lockdowns taking place across the UK, business leaders are coming to terms with the fact their workforces will remain dispersed for quite a while longer than perhaps first anticipated. The government has encouraged all those that are capable of working from home to do so, meaning the challenge of managing a remote workforce will likely remain in the majority of cases. While UK offices are able to remain open at the moment, a more severe lockdown has been threatened if people fail to abide by the new rules.
Keeping employee engagement as high as possible has quickly become more important than ever. If an organisation is not providing clear communication, they drastically increase the risk of employees disengaging and losing motivation. In the recent Freshworks-Harvard Business Review survey—Technology’s Make or Break Role in Employee Engagement—92% of the respondents stated that employee engagement is critical to their organisation’s success. While employee productivity and satisfaction are clear drivers behind the response, there is increasing evidence that high employee engagement increases customer satisfaction and overall business outcomes. Further research shows that employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer relationships, with a resulting 20% increase in sales. So, just how do businesses keep employees engaged as many remain at home until it is safe to return to the office?
Set clearly defined goals
Now more than ever, employees require a clear set of goals and responsibilities to work towards. When working from home, there may be times where the adapting roles and responsibilities of an employee become hazy unless they are clearly defined regularly. With the usual office conversation stripped from many teams, business leaders must be making a conscious effort to be updating their teams as regularly as they can.
There may also be times in the current working environment where an employee is impacted by a less than ideal home working environment. This can potentially lead to them questioning the attainability of the goals they’ve been set. A great leader is one who can help set realistic goals for their employees and actively help them meet their targets. While management cannot be there all the time, when it comes to guiding employees with the problems they’re facing, it is crucial business leaders make themselves available if required.
A sincere relationship between employees and their management motivates trust and builds teamwork. Employers should ensure they do not falsify relationships but instead develop a trusting workplace environment. When employees reach the point of feeling trusted within their workplace, they will be more comfortable suggesting fresh ideas to their peers and will undoubtedly enjoy their work more.
Building this trust can be done in many ways. Small gestures such as promoting the taking of breaks, show an appreciation of employees’ work and remind them their organisation cares. Similarly, asking for their feedback on other work shows their opinion is valued. This will undoubtedly increase engagement levels.
The responsibility of ensuring employee engagement remains high and keeping teams united while working remotely falls on management. Activities such as remote employee cooking classes or team sports projects can be introduced to ensure high employee satisfaction outside of work. These should coincide with continually sharing best practice tips to keep the team united.
Provide employees with the right tools
According to the research, powerful, easy-to-use software contributes to employee satisfaction by enabling a more productive experience. 82% of respondents in the survey referenced above said employees’ happiness on the job is significantly impacted by how well their workplace technology performs. Motivated and productive agents are determined to make their customers happy. Therefore, tools such as helpdesk gamification can be utilised to ensure employees remain engaged.
Software that is hard to use and inflexible will have the opposite effect, leaving employees discouraged and potentially even prompting them to seek better working conditions elsewhere. In fact, 77% of those surveyed said good employees will look for a new employer if their current job does not provide the tools, technology or information they need to do their job well.
Still, getting the right tools is only part of the solution. Empowering employees to have a say in selecting the tools is equally important. In a 2019 survey, 96% of the employees surveyed said they had little or no involvement in the software purchase decision and 50% of the respondents said having the right tools would result in happier customers and better employee productivity. The right tools are also crucial for helping employees stay connected and boost their productivity in the current working from home environment. With the company remaining connected with a clear line of communication, it will remind employees at home of the common goal they are working towards while also ensuring security and streamlined processes.
Keep it simple
Employee engagement is made simple when business leaders enquire about what needs improvement or the changes required to ensure maximum productivity. As a second lockdown looms large and morale likely to be impacted, it is now more crucial than ever for business leaders to prioritise employee engagement. Businesses will only be able to thrive in the current climate by having motivated, happy employees.