The last two years have been challenging to say the least. With the pandemic fundamentally changing the way companies operate, employers have had to rethink many aspects of their culture to keep employees satisfied and excited about their jobs. According to a 2020 Gallup poll on employee engagement, 51% of employees are disengaged in the workplace. Another 13% are actively disengaged, meaning they’re sowing their dissatisfaction among their co-workers. Increased negativity is a substantial issue and likely the driving force of The Great Resignation. Here are three things you can do starting today to improve employee engagement.

One-On-One Check-Ins

In a world where more and more of our work is automated, it’s not surprising that employee disconnection has become a significant issue. But that doesn’t mean the human touch has become obsolete. For managers, that means embracing one-on-one check-ins with employees regularly.

A report by Gallup notes that just 25% of manufacturing employees report feeling engaged at work – the lowest of all the fields surveyed. Regular conversations can help boost engagement, but how do you get the most out of your one on-one meetings? The first step is to let your employees know they’re appreciated. Talk about their strengths and praise them for the excellent work they’re doing. However, it’s better to be direct than passive-aggressive when it comes to correction. Encourage them to look at improvement as an opportunity for growth.

Be sure your conversations go both ways. A one-on-one is a chance for you to hear what your employee is thinking as well. They should feel comfortable talking to you about all situations, including those that might be difficult. And you need to demonstrate your willingness to listen by acting on suggestions or concerns.

At all times, keep your employees’ needs at the top-of mind. While you, as the employer, have certain expectations about performance and work ethic, it’s also vital that you focus on what will help your team succeed. Many employees find the idea of a one-on-one meeting terrifying, so strive to include their priorities in the conversation.

Make Inclusion A Priority

There may be nothing more important than diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace in 2022. According to a recent survey, 42% of candidates indicated they would reject a job offer from a company that didn’t demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion. And DEI initiatives improve much more than employee retention. Hiring people with diverse backgrounds increases innovation, improves customer relationships, and elevates your community reputation. Making inclusion a priority should be at the top of your list as you plan your hiring and management strategy for this year and beyond.

The lack of inclusion is also a factor in The Great Resignation. As employees from underrepresented populations, such as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), become dissatisfied with their positions, they are likely to leave the company – most likely without saying why. To prevent the hemorrhaging of employees or to encourage a diverse candidate pool, reassess your company’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs. It is important to embrace diversity at all levels of the workplace. Focusing on decision-making positions can make a significant difference in the future.

As this article from Fast Company suggests, consider the following:
• Don’t let your DEI commitment be performative.
• Review past initiatives and commitments to reevaluate.
• Go deeper than surface-level inclusion and focus on changing systemic issues.
• Listen to employees, customers, and the community.
• Understand DEI’s role in talent acquisition.

Empower Employees

Communication efforts focused on empowerment can fall flat if they are focused exclusively on those likely to be sitting in front of a computer full time. Distribution, manufacturing, construction and similar workers spend most of their days on the shop floor or in the field. If you want to include them, be sure that your email platform and intranet system are optimized for mobile so they can access information on their smartphones and feel like part of the team.

One considerable aspect of employee empowerment is providing more freedom with their time. We have proven that flexible schedules and professional development opportunities allow your employees to feel more in control. This can also mean creating unlimited PTO policies and having a results-oriented workplace. If these systems can work with the type of business you do, empowering your employees will enhance the entire experience from start to finish.

Conclusion: Creative Engagement In A Post-covid Workplace

The effects of the pandemic will linger for a long time. We’ve existed in a state of persistent stress and collective trauma influencing how workers and employers interact. The Great Resignation will continue to affect businesses directly, which means new potential talent is available from unexpected places. With more attention on employee engagement and empowerment, we can retain skilled, experienced people and attract great new employees to companies to create an even stronger working relationship.