Elevating Employee Engagement

Engage 210Back in the old days when everyone was working in the office, there may have been conflict, a need for empathy, and a call for understanding. However, we may have had it too easy in terms of having the ability to anticipate, observe, and solve issues. Current times have taken much of the ability for these out of our hands. But wait, we’re all in this together! So, shouldn’t we have an even greater ability to anticipate, observe, and solve issues?

Back to Normal

Life is getting somewhat back to normal. For example, Saturday, I was in a retail store. Driving in, the parking lot was full. Upon entering the store, shoppers were like busy bees filling their carts in every aisle.  The not so normal part is seeing a sea of face masks, greatly lowering face-to-face interaction. Upon checking out, another sign of the current environment, fewer open checkout lanes, had people standing in long lines stretching midway to the middle of this large retail space. Yet no one was showing signs of irritation or anger. No one was suffering from emotional hijacking. While there may have been less of a call for empathy, there was understanding.

Been There Done That

In the shopping scenario above, we’ve all been there around busy shopping times even during normal times. However, been there, done that is not a way we can describe the current normal. It is not easy for any of us to bring empathy, understanding, or even advice from a previous experience of this kind to help our coworkers, family, or friends. In addition, different people handle different situations differently. During normal times, people still become disengaged with work and even life. Imagine that now.

Missing Elements

Because there are so many missing elements for observation with many people working from home, it becomes even more difficult to not only maintain engagement, but to determine when disengagement is occurring. There are actions to take to at the least help prevent disengagement from occurring. To begin, be knowledgeable about the difference between empathy and understanding, two anchors to head off disengagement. An article by Snugug.com helps us understand the difference between these two valuable insights and that assuming that because we have one, we have the other is incorrect.

Empathy: Part of the importance of empathy is that according to an article by Forbes, when leaders exhibit empathy, retention and wellness both increase. Empathy has more to do with feelings. Quoting Snugug directly: “When talking about empathy, we are talking about a state of being; how does a person feel, what do they see, what do they say, what do they do, what do they hear, is it causing them pain, is it causing them joy.” Therefore, that tool of listening becomes paramount in hearing what team members say. Observing, their actions, behaviors, or lack of involvement even on an online call can also convey a message. We all know the experience of both physical and emotional pain and can have empathy around that.

Understanding: Again, according to Snugug, understanding has more to do with “…we are talking about knowledge and process; what is a person’s background, what expertise do they bring to this situation and how is that important to their understanding, why did they come to the decision they have [?]” Good leaders know their staff’s skills, attributes, and talents. This knowledge or understanding is an essential part of good management and leadership.

Boosting Employee Engagement

We have all seen the studies indicating the importance of employee engagement to retention, productivity, and the bottom line. Boosting or even maintaining employee engagement is a continuous process and accomplishing this is achievable using the following tools.

Communication: Understand that every team member has their own communication style. In      addition, communication needs to be continuous, more than ever now, and open and transparent. When employees feel they have a voice and that their voice has been heard, they are far more engaged. Understanding this helps reduce conflict, improve productivity, increase retention, and boost engagement.

Handling Crisis

Some organizations are handling this crisis better than others. Learn from the current one, but also manage it in the process. Helping your team members feel safe, confident, and involving them help them to sustain engagement better. No, none of us can predict the end of this. On the other hand, none of us can predict any future outcomes, crisis, or no crisis. Understanding what we can and cannot control helps us to manage life, work, family, friends, and yes, emotions.

Increase Awareness

Self-awareness helps us understand our triggers for emotional hijacking. EQ should be a part of your developmental program at every employee level. The leader who maintains a calm demeanor until a problem rears its ugly head, and then becomes angry and emotional doesn’t add to the engagement quotient at all.

An article by Target Training International suggests that people use a “positivity bank” to help get over bad feelings. A positivity bank is “a list of activities and actions you have compiled that you know boost your mood.” A suggested list is below:

  • Watch a funny video on YouTube
  • Express gratitude (list 5 things you’re grateful for)
  • Work in a different room for a change of scenery
  • Write in a journal for 10 minutes
  • Play with and talk to your pets
  • Make yourself a delicious snack
  • Read kudos you’ve received in the past
  • Make a list of things you’re proud of
  • Exercise (jumping jacks are a great way to quickly up your blood flow!)
  • Look at pictures of your loved ones
  • Take 5 deep breaths
  • Get on a quick call with a friend
  • Send someone a text telling them you’re thinking of them
  • Write a letter and send some snail mail
  • Go for a brief walk and really focus on your natural surroundings
  • Meditate
  • Read affirmations
  • Drink water to make sure you’re hydrated
  • Make some art! Doodle, paint, or play with clay for a few minutes

The article suggests that you choose five and get started and that you can also make your own list for your positivity bank. This could be a good list to build and circulate to help elevate your employee engagement.

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