Employee engagement is a recurring theme in many successful organisations. Leaders implement myriad ways to keep their workers interested in their respective roles – by offering incentives, career growth and development opportunities, and other incentives.
However, as the market and economies continue to alter with post-pandemic considerations, relentless tech advancement, and remote functionality, leaders need to think outside the box with employee engagement strategies.
Employee’s needs and priorities have shifted with the times, and the most influential leaders should anticipate, adapt, and respond to these changes. In some cases, it might require leaders to take on additional responsibilities and encouraging similar flexibility and versatility among workers.
Micromanagement used to be a common practice in traditional leadership models, where decision-makers dominated every task and routine. While micromanagement enabled leaders to “get things done” in the past and provided them with greater assurance that all was in order, it fails to connect with the modern workforce.
Increased productivity resulting from Work-from-home arrangements suggests that employees have the creativity, discipline, and determination to function without micromanagement. There’s no more need to be bound to the desk or check in at a physical workplace to display an employee’s commitment to duty.
According to research by Prodoscore ( a leading provider of employee visibility software), work-from-home initiatives led to a 47% rise in productivity across organisations.
Instead of micromanaging to get things done strictly to plan, leaders should consider the benefits of coaching. In coaching, leaders encourage employees to take charge of their roles and responsibilities, apply creativity when necessary, and promote ongoing feedback as a vital work process.
Gallup sums up the leadership transformation by recommending a replacement of old-school performance management with ongoing conversations. The transition should be gradual, nurtured through communication and trust that prioritizes development.
Collective Brainstorming of KPI
The KPI (key performance index) drives appraisals that influence an employee’s career. Conventional KPIs stem from templates decided by HR and departmental heads – in a top-down approach.
Organisations can empower and engage employees by involving them in the KPI-setting process. Collective KPI discussions create a positive workplace culture where individuals have more freedom and control over their career progression and organisational advancement.
However, ultimately, leaders should ensure the relevance of KPI standards as an effective measurement that gives the organisation an advantage over market competitors. Accountability should always be a priority in KPIs – the challenge lies in guiding employees towards discovering the most quantifiable metrics.
Trust is an essential component in employee engagement, and autonomy presented in a crucial organisational process (i.e., setting KPI standards) drives morale and confidence.
Active Listening is a Must
Leaders should constantly keep one ear to the ground, especially in modern times. Data, regulations, and trends travel rapidly – resulting in a more demanding workplace, and employees are prone to burnout, stress, and depression now more than ever.
While an open-door policy was adequate in the past, modern leaders need to go beyond, anticipate the earliest signs of discontent among the workforce and offer proactive support. As such, active listening skills should be a must-have addition to the modern leadership toolkit.
Active listening refers to the skills necessary in interpreting conversations – processing deeper meaning behind spoken words and non-verbal cues. Soundwave workshops provide participants with insightful and practical lessons that cultivate the art of active listening.
Essentially, leaders should pay full attention to employees during conversations, identify the main points they wish to convey, and only respond once they have finished what they intended to say.
Implement Multiple Communication Outlets
WFH has raised the importance of organisations maintaining quality communication via multiple platforms. For optimal impact, leaders should offer employees various contact methods through email, social media, and teleconferences.
It’s essential to identify the unique communication preferences with each employee and apply them for the best response. However, industry experts stress the importance of face-to-face communication as a reliable means of establishing trust and strengthening team participation.
In addition to diversifying communication channels, leaders should ensure that they provide quality information during each interaction. Employees need to understand the main objectives of each meeting or discussion.
Leaders should define goals and expectations, clarify statements (especially instances of vagueness or ambiguity), and keep everyone involved during discussions.
Provide Skills Training and Upskilling Opportunities
Industry experts predict an upcoming “turnover tsunami” at the end of the pandemic – with the emergence of new hiring and recruitment opportunities. According to findings (from a survey involving 2,000 working adults) of the Achievers Workforce Institute, 46% of workers feel less connected to their company, and 42% report diminished work culture since the pandemic.
In other words, many employees may be holding back on their job-hopping exodus simply due to the current instability of the economy. While employees may temporarily hold onto income security, organisations may face the rude shock of losing a bulk of their workforce to healthier work environments when the global situation improves.
Leaders may instinctively respond to the event by re-filling vacant positions with hires who possess similar skillsets as previous position holders. Alternatively, by refocusing on reskilling and upskilling, leaders can add more value to the role and improve employee engagement into the future.
Specifically, reskilling and upskilling paves the way for performance enablement, necessary for an agile workforce that can adapt quickly to industry needs and requirements.
Re-evaluating Employee Engagement
Employee engagement drives productivity and company loyalty. However, the engagement rules have changed, and they will continue to alter according to various market and societal dynamics.
It is also vital for leaders to note that employee engagement and productivity are not interchangeable terms.
According to Elizabeth Dukes, the Co-founder, and CMO of iOFFICE, “organizations need to ensure that their workplaces are designed, first and foremost, around their company values. What does this look like? It means that if organizations value collaboration, they’ll provide their employees with the space and technology to collaborate.”
How an organisation engages employees depends on its core tenets – consistent but adaptable to the changing world.
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