As workers from all sectors slowly trickle back into the office, it’s plain to see that what was previously regarded as “the norm” has shifted. Nine-to-five lifestyles, as the pandemic has recently proved, are a thing of the past. Employees are not only happier but more productive when work is scheduled around their personal lives, leading to better relationships with family and more time to cultivate physical and mental wellbeing.
But with the new normal comes its own challenges. After months of flexible working, how will employees react to life back in the office? How do you keep them engaged in the new world? Saira Demmer, CEO of SF Recruitment, recently spoke on approaches to re-establishing employee engagement at the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce’s Growth Through People webinar. Here are five key tips to help keep the workforce productive and engaged post-pandemic.
In any workplace, it’s essential that staff feel they are able to communicate with management, no matter the size or nature of the query. Keeping an open communication line can help assuage feelings of isolation in employees, particularly those who aren’t able to come into the office. By reinforcing the notion that it’s ok to ask questions, it can also help to drive self-improvement in staff, which is a key element of workplace growth as a whole.
By striving to make the workplace a meritocracy, a clear precedent is set that hard work is rewarded. If employees feel their efforts aren’t being reflected by their employer, there’s simply no incentive to do any more than the absolute minimum. By commending employees based on their input, the playing field is levelled for all, allowing the opportunity for progression for anyone who works hard enough.
Offering a workplace learning and development scheme is crucial to ensuring that any employee who wants to progress can do so, without fear of hitting a glass ceiling. It’s in the best interests of an organisation that employees keep sharpening their skills, so it’s only fair that they are rewarded for doing so.
For too long has the physical and mental wellbeing of staff been an unfortunate afterthought to their careers. Historically, employees have had to sacrifice their welfare for advancement in their profession – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Fitter, happier employees are proven to be more productive, so it’s time that adopting proper support for physical and mental health became an industry standard.
Encouraging dialogue is half the battle, but subscriptions to specialised apps like Headspace for Work can be an invaluable tool to combat stress, anxiety and burnout. Social clubs centred around exercise can be easy established using apps like Strava, too, adding a positive social element to exercise that helps motivate colleagues.
When relationships between colleagues transcend the workplace, it creates a powerful sense of loyalty that encourages employees to go the extra mile for both one another and the business. Being surrounded by friends can make the office a more positive place to be, and can benefit attitudes to working as a whole. Moreover, fostering a sense of community can help employees feel more connected to their jobs.
Social events are always a good way to strengthen the bonds between employees, and can help build relationships between departments that wouldn’t usually communicate in the workplace. Offering a wide variety of sports – once allowed – or virtual book and film clubs also makes sure that there’s something for everyone.
Sometimes, just a few words can go a long way. Saying “thank you” is one of the simplest things an employer can do, but the benefits of doing so can be surprising. With just two words, you’re letting an employee know that their efforts are recognised and that you’re grateful for their contribution. As we look to plan to come out of one of the most challenging periods of our history, such a gesture shows workers that they’re valued and incentivises them to remain just as productive in future.
Why should organisations care about engaging their workforce?
Happiness and productiveness in employees are not mutually exclusive qualities. In fact, the two often go hand in hand, so it’s critical that the wellbeing of staff is nurtured if workplaces want to remain as productive as possible. After all, workers who are engaged with their roles are less likely to stagnate, meaning that the wider organisation is also less likely to do so.
Ultimately, companies should expect to get out of their workforce an exact reflection of what they put in. Treat employees as nothing more than workers, and they’re likely to treat their job as a means to an end. However, if employees are treated as valued contributors to the business and rewarded for their efforts- they might just go the extra mile.