Employee engagement is a driving force of business success and a topic that has been given more and more attention recently. With all the forced changes the pandemic has brought forth, people have struggled to come to terms with new work routines — engagement not being the least affected.
With the rapid advancement of technology, ranging from clean tech to internet security, many businesses are struggling to keep up. For many employees, anything beyond email communication and online meetings is rocket science. The gap between remote workers and office workers is getting bigger by the minute, and managers who have been forced to lead their teams remotely are struggling to learn all there is to learn.
Like so many other aspects of a traditional working day, employee engagement has also evolved (and, in some cases, devolved).
What Exactly Is Employee Engagement?
This question may appear simple, but is, in fact, a complex mixture of various factors. Employee engagement is, simply put, all about the human factor in a workplace — a practice that is slowly losing its footing in the increasingly hectic world of today.
As a result, employee engagement ideas have risen to a whole new level, with many managers looking for a needle in a haystack when they should be looking for a unilateral approach revolving around one factor alone — employee satisfaction.
While it holds true that people can be so different that a slew of psychologists may not be able to come up with a universal approach to engagement, it also holds true that all employees, regardless of their personalities, look for two things in an employment: a stress-free environment and a good salary.
To boost employee engagement, hence, the workplace needs to be pleasant and the rewards adequate.
Why Communication Is So Important
Hardly anything business-related can be addressed without tackling the matter of communication, which, no matter how much times may change, remains the core of human nature. People are social beings. Communication is crucial not only for business success, but also for mental well-being.
The skill of interpersonal communication has been gaining attention of late. Digitalization has made us less human, it would seem, so we need to learn again how to communicate effectively without fueling conflicts.
Just what communication is remains a matter of debate, mainly because of technological advancements. Long past are the days of cloggy briefings — the arena has moved to the virtual world.
Effective Types of Communication
With that in mind, we can address three types of business communication:
- Communication via email
- Communication via messengers
- Communication via project management apps
Email has been around the longest, and while many of its original aims have been taken over different types of apps, its primary purpose remains unchallenged. Email programs have become more advanced and sophisticated, with the aim of helping the users reach the elusive target popularly dubbed “zero inbox.” With email marketing jumping on the bandwagon, the struggle is real. Email frequency has become the single biggest disrupter of the workflow, so there are various approaches to addressing this issue.
Messengers have taken over some of the original purposes of email. When used for the clearly set purpose, they have proven to be easy to use and can indeed make communication more constructive and less time-consuming. Proper plans and procedures need to be established and clearly communicated for best results, and they are unique to every business’ respective strategy.
Project management apps are the biggest novelty that can ease communication considerably while at the same time enabling efficient collaboration and instant responses. Gmail workflows, for example, have proven to simplify a lot of routines, making daily tasks crystal clear.
Of late, anonymous feedback has been established as a golden standard when it comes to employee engagement, and not without a solid reason. Anonymity ensures sincerity; employees will be free to voice their concerns without fearing any kind of retribution.
Anonymous feedback shows the employees that their opinion is valued. Every good manager knows that the key to boosting employee engagement lies in motivating the workforce.
Creating Purpose by Communicating
A recent study undertaken by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College shows that purpose is the key factor of collaboration and, subsequently, engagement.
According to Kevin Martin, Chief Research Officer, i4cp:
“The lack of incentives and rewards is the most common and powerful barrier to effective collaboration. Yet, most talent management systems are designed to reward individual achievement, not team accomplishments. Finding ways to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams who engage in productive collaborative behaviors can pay off in a big way.”
This supports what we already know: that everyone expects a reward for their efforts and time. When people are unsatisfied with their jobs, they will lose the sense of purpose and their motivation and engagement levels will plummet. At that point, no amount of communication will help them become more engaged. Rather, they will look elsewhere for what they are looking for.
This is a scenario you want to avoid by all means. For starters, don’t let things escalate to this level. Keeping communication alive and listening to employee feedback is exactly what should tell you how to make the workspace ideal for all employees.
Don’t be afraid to ask and to take employee suggestions into consideration. To further boost engagement, encourage employees to come up with their own ideas. Think in terms of startups that are more like families than like companies with strict management rules.
Communication is, as you can see, the single most important factor when it comes to employee engagement. It is a universal rule, no matter the funnels you’re using. Whether you’re starting an online business, selling million-dollar life insurance policies or designing high-end table lamps, communication with your team is extremely important, regardless of the industry.
Don’t let misunderstandings take root and manage proper communication channels from day one. After all, people are different no matter how you look at it but if you make your company a place with shared values, everyone will thrive.