Worry, anger, stress and sadness have been the most common emotions experienced by the entire world since the onset of the pandemic. Even though these emotions have always existed, it is only now that they are being taken seriously by everyone.
Since the levels of stress have taken a spike across all organisations, employees feel a sense of hopelessness, helplessness and the high stress and anxiety is evident in their final productivity. This has resulted in a visible impact in the wellbeing of an engaged employee vis-à-vis an inspired and enthusiastic individual.
As per the Global Employee Engagement Trend, 22% employees were engaged at work in 2019, which dropped to 20% in 2020 with the spread of Covid-19. (Source: Gallup Inc.) This drop can be attributed to individuals doing a life evaluation and realising their priorities, which indicate how they perceive their lives at work and outside it.
Connecting with the employees
Organisations today are investing more in their workforces. The focus has been on creating a positive work environment to ensure personnel are excited about coming to office, connect with their colleagues and stay motivated.
A popular trend seen across companies is to encourage employees to share their personal quests and journeys and feature them in internal communications. These initiatives give individuals a boost of confidence that the company cares about them and wants to be a part of their life. Internal networks and platforms are created to encourage exchange of ideas and drive conversations between different departments.
Companies also conduct surveys, employee participation events to get a pulse of their employees. However, even with these insights, companies rarely transform them into actions and behavioural change that benefit the employees. Most of the time, these efforts are sporadic and lack continuity and are unable to create a significant impact for the employee.
What’s the missing link?
Employee engagement is a yardstick for measuring how emotionally and intellectually satisfied the individual is in their overall work life. Their engagement at work is directly impacted by factors outside work too, but that’s beyond the control of the company. It is important for companies to look at employees as individuals too. The missing link in the equation is the overall well-being of an individual and empowering each individual where they take charge & ownership of their happiness & mental health.
With the new work culture, experiences at work and outside work overlap and directly affect the organisations’ success. If an employee is not in a good mental health space, has conflict outside of work, burdened with multiple responsibilities, it will affect his overall well-being. Also, a prolonged exposure to such negative emotions can lead to saturation and burnout. All the efforts to engage with such an employee will yield no response, even if they have positive experiences at work.
Organisations must change their perspective on approaching employee engagement to be relevant in today’s world by:
- Contribute to their employees’ well-being by fostering guiding them in owning the responsibility of healthy habits for their better mental and physical health.
- Help them to work towards developing positive and happy habits for a healthier lifestyle.
- Encourages to build connections at work where individuals can speak their heart-out as well as update family friendly policies to bring more inclusion.
- Recognise individuals who give back to the community.
- Uniting employee and organization purpose to drive experiences and to create a sense of belongingness
While individual ownership to bring a positive culture will surely contribute to the well-being, the managers play a crucial role in this change too. Consistent and transparent conversations with the team focusing on overall individual journey has the power to do wonders. Leadership teams themselves can lead by example and everyone shall follow suit.
Making the world better
Workplace culture can be a good start point to make the world a happier and a better place. Regular conversations with managers and leaders to dedicate time towards well-being and help in focusing on building healthy & positive habits should become second nature to all. As the new generation enters the workplace, including them in the success story can help businesses measure success not just by profit, but by happiness levels too.
Defining specific goals and working towards them can lead to sustainable change. The goals could cover the below dimensions:
- Timescale – Ensuring peace with the past and looking forward to the future
- Our Being – Consistently work towards better well-being
- Achievements – State aims to achieve and celebrate each win
- Relationships – Develop new friendships and create a social bond with the community
- Work-life – Strive to create a balance with work and life and pursue hobbies
- Meaningfulness – Pledge to a cause close to one’s heart and contribute to the society and others
In this volatile age, a traditional employee engagement activity may not fit or meet the needs of an organization. In 2022, organisations need to focus more in terms of bringing the right “Values” to create “WOW Employee Experience” and to do so it would be more important to evaluate if the organization’s VALUE system narrates TRUST and BELONGINGNESS. How do we behave & practice the right values consistently as an organization and also as an individual, would take a huge precedence over random one time engagement activity. There would be considerable focus on activities which would tune in architecture of “individual ownership” to craft a happy & productive culture. Activities which would allow individuals to cultivate positive habits, allow them to be in more control of their mental & physical well-being and help them to align their individual purpose with organizational purpose, would take a leap.
Committing to change for the benefit of the employees will not only give the company a productive and healthy employee, but shall serve towards a larger purpose of global well-being. As the future and nature of work evolves, it is up to the companies to ensure the link between employee engagement and their well-being is not broken.