It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.
– Charles Darwin -
The Pandemic has pivoted the corporate world, setting off changes that will have a lasting impact. Work-from-home structures abound, and many organisations will not be implementing full time return-to-work policies. While there may be positives to working from home, we can all attest to the fact that this new work model has brought with it a myriad of challenges. These challenges have impacted employee engagement in a number of ways.
Working from home can easily lead to a sense of isolation and, being out of the loop on the day-to-day happenings at work can heighten employees’ concerns and fears about the future of their employment. Add to this the plethora of tasks to be completed and potentially the unavailability of the right tools, as well as the challenge of overworking (no thanks to blurry work-home boundaries), and one is likely to see commitment, engagement and productivity dropping in alarming ways.
It also stands to reason that the effect on employees will start reflecting in the customer experience.
As mentioned in Part 1 of the series, the customer journey is directly impacted by employee experience and engagement. How do we then ensure that we contribute to creating a hero’s journey for our employees, especially in 2021?
Our workforce is, after all, our biggest asset.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement refers to the commitment and emotional connection employees have to their organization and work, which ultimately determines business unit performance. Employees are engaged when their work and company’s culture align with their motives and values, which in-turn motivates them to exercise discretionary effort.
A younger workforce
Many organisations employ a large percentage of younger employees. The 2020 Sage Peopl Report notes that increasingly more today than ever before, the younger workforce – Generation Z and millennials – not only want, but expect, their employers to provide workplace environments where they can achieve fulfilment and meaning.
The traditional perks of gym memberships, company health plans and bonus schemes are not enough for these two generations. They’re looking for a more rewarding, engaging and meaningful workplace experience.
The value of volunteerism
One way to create a feeling of belonging, pride and give deeper meaning to being part of an organisation, is volunteerism.
When employees feel that their organisation is socially responsible, they experience a greater sense of identity with the business they work for. According to SOCAGLOBAL, Social responsibility could potentially be more important than financial success in determining how much employees identify with their workplace.
Furthermore a personal higher purpose promotes well-being, happiness and even lower stress levels. Employees at companies with a statement of higher purpose, and opportunities for staff members to participate in bringing it alive, are often prouder of their company and have greater trust in its leaders. Focusing on a higher purpose that informs all decision-making can be part of a strategy to inspire and motivate employees. Increase retention and improve profits.
As human beings we need, and want to know, that our lives have purpose and meaning both as individuals and as contributing members of the companies we work for, where we spend a significant portion of our lives.
The 2020 Sage People and City Philanthropy Report also states that 53% of under-35s want to volunteer more than they do, with this figure increasing to 60% among 18-24-year-olds. Pride in where they work is an important factor to drive engagement and motivation, and results in them sharing their experiences with their communities, thus becoming advocates for the organisation. The new workforce’s priorities are ever changing, and to drive their investment in an organisation requires the environment to adjust and change accordingly. The onslaught of COVID-19 has complicated interpreting and guiding a nurturing environment. Where in the past volunteerism facilitated and supported by the organisation, served to answer to the higher purpose needs of the younger work force, lockdowns and working from home have made it more difficult to effectively implement.
While traditional associations with volunteer work (for example time investment, effort, being asked to donate financially in contracting economic environment) have tended to influence employees in their decisions as to how to contribute, the ‘new normal’ work investment requirements have complicated matters considerably. We have all experienced how longer hours under high pressure on a consistent basis have impacted our work-life balance. It has also led to a reluctance to engage with anything that might add pressure or hours to the workday. Add to that COVID-19 compliance and risks associated with physical engagement, and the ‘volunteer workdays on site’ option falls away completely.
Desktop volunteerism, managed and presented to employees in a format that does not require more than 60-90 seconds of engagement, offers a reward for participation and provides them the opportunity to be part of every such initiative from start to end, has proven to be a viable way of driving engagement and pride.
LIVE+ has developed a fully customisable platform to facilitate a variety of desktop volunteer campaigns for organisations. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org