by: Brandon Currie, Training Specialist
What does an engaged employee look like? Involved, committed, passionate, and empowered, demonstrating those feelings in their work behavior. Employee engagement is a predictor of positive business outcomes, such as profitability, increased job performance, lower turnover rates, decreased absenteeism, and higher employee loyalty, just to name a few. Keeping your employees engaged is especially important in times of change like we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 outbreak. As a rockstar manager, there are many things that you should keep in mind as you manage your employees.
Trust is a huge driver of employee engagement. It is imperative that you are direct about scope of work, processes, timelines, organizational updates, goals, etc., demonstrating honesty and reliability. Monitoring employee work, above and beyond what you normally would in a regular work environment, can lead to lower trust levels, motivation, productivity, and overall engagement. It’s hard to find that balance between micro-managing and allowing too much distance; open communication helps with this.
The conference call among you, the company, and your CEO, Mike Sunderland, was a great example of trust, as he demonstrated honesty about the current situation and gave clear expectations of how the company would navigate through this challenge. The candidness of the call was a great illustrator of the trust that Apollo has in its employees and that each employee should have in Apollo.
The sections below also play into employee engagement and trust building, as well.
Now that COVID-19 has most employees working from home, it is vital to start effective communication habits. Open communication must be a priority; as communication levels go down, disengagement goes up. Employees need to be able to contact you, IT, other team members, etc., just as they would in the office. If you are often too busy to be available for your team, create “open office hours” when your employees know that they are available to talk. Apollo has an open door policy which is great, but you have to make sure to make this more apparent than ever during this transitional period!
Distance is not a barrier anymore! The use of collaborative technology is huge in fostering effective communication. Utilize the Microsoft Teams training materials on your company’s training website and the soon-to-come live training sessions! As managers, you must become as knowledgeable as you can with these technologies to use them effectively. Learn the “ins n outs” of Microsoft Teams functions so that communication between your team can be as rich as possible. Your employees, however, should not be expected to master these technologies right away, so give them time, guidance, and time to practice!
Performance appraisal is a major factor that contributes to your employees’ growth and overall satisfaction. Studies show that virtual workers are more committed to their goals through an interactive coaching manager, so set performance goals with your team members and check in on them. Not in a “give-me-an-update-on-your-progress” type of way, but rather making sure they are clear on their objectives and that they have all the resources needed to achieve those goals that they help set. It’s not like getting called to the principal’s office, you know. Set incremental, difficult, yet attainable goals to keep your employees motivated and more engaged. Give them frequent feedback and help them reach these goals and assist when you can! Don’t forget to recognize accomplished goals, whether privately or publicly, and encourage supportive communication between all levels of the organization!
Remote work brings on a whole new set of stressors that can lead to burnout and a loss of motivation. Don’t let the flame die out! Feelings of isolation from the company and co-workers can be frequent, which stems from the lack of casual and personal conversations throughout the day and loss of team connection. Utilize the video functions in Microsoft Teams! You can recommend your team to set up peer video calls to talk about work, get help from one another, and just chat, something to bring the team together to mimicking the cubicle setting. In Teams, Apollo's Org-Wide Team has a channel called "water cooler talk" you can join to chit chat among coworkers, too. Join Apollo’s private Facebook group, Apollo Buzz, and interact through social media. These tools are important because an employee who has more frequent virtual connections with their team is more likely to be committed to the team’s goals. Regularly checking in with employees mimics office interactions in the hallway, break room, quick talks at the desk, etc. So, as a manager, you can schedule daily short “group huddle” meetings. These small interactions have big effects!
Employee engagement is a tremendously intricate construct with many contributing factors; it is not a one-lane road, but a highway. Not only do you have to consider job engagement, but also employee engagement with co-workers, Apollo corporate, and all other intertwining factors. The topics discussed above are a great start in which you can immediately employ to help drive employee engagement. It is a very powerful tool for you and Apollo during this transitional period and moving forward as you return to your real office!