Having employees who are engaged in what they do and who take pride in the organization for which they work is critical to an organization’s success. Employee engagement is optimized when employees fully understand their job, how and where they are most productive, and the mission of the organization. It also helps when employees are motivated by knowing how their role impacts and promotes the achievement of that mission. This is especially true in today’s work environment, where many employers are doing their jobs remotely or working a hybrid schedule and having to deal with new workplace policies.
The first step to maintaining an engaged workforce does not involve focusing on employees. Rather, it starts with improving leadership.
From the HR20/20 Report …
The effective HR leader maximizes the opportunity to link the people component with effective and efficient business strategies to achieve successful, measurable outcomes.
Employees who have higher levels of in-person or virtual interaction with their managers tend to feel they are getting the direction they need to be successful. This makes ensuring two-way communications remain frequent and meaningful particularly important when new workplace policies and procedures are developed and implemented. When employees are not familiar with rules or processes, their inclination may be to reject or oppose the new ways of doing things.
To ensure that employees are engaged while implementing new policies and procedures, leaders must first ask themselves three questions:
- Are the new policies and procedures clear and concise?
- Can employees see how their work contributes to the new measures or how the measures benefit them?
- Are managers equipped with the skills needed to implement the measures and motivate the workforce?
Once those questions have been answered in the affirmative, strategies for successfully implementing new workplace policies and procedures include the following.
Get Employees Involved From the Outset
Involving employees in the creation of new policies and procedures increases the likelihood that they will buy into the changes. For example, when developing a risk management strategy for hybrid employees, interview or survey workers about their preferences for hybrid work arrangements. Make sure, as well, that policies address training procedures and home office hazard assessments. Involving the employees who start working hybrid schedules from the outset will help keep them engaged and minimize risks for injuries, both physical and mental.
Provide Employees the Tools They Need to Succeed
Build employees’ confidence by training them to perform all the tasks within their job descriptions. Also make sure each employee understands how their role fits into the work of their department and the organization as a whole.
When new policies and procedures are introduced, explain how the changes benefit an employee and/or the organization. Productivity may become an issue when an employee is unsure how a policy will impact their work. Indeed, a lack of understanding or misinterpretation could lead to a challenging implementation. Additional coaching or training may be needed to increase an employee’s level of engagement in the process.
Let Employees Know the Outcomes of Changes
It goes without saying that employees are the backbone of the organization. Indeed, the success or failure of the practices resulting from the policies and procedures at issue will depend on them. To maintain their vested interest, employees should not only be made aware of why a new policy is being implemented, but they should also be informed of the success (or failure) of the policy. For example, if a new safety policy was created for hybrid employees, affected employees should periodically receive status reports (e.g., “Physical injuries at home have decreased since implementation of the safety policy.”).
From the HR20/20 Report …
The HR professional should be sure to include a communication strategy and planning with all change initiatives and programs and validate that the messages have been received and understood. Here are some very practical approaches to sound communication in light of the realities of technology, speed of delivery and change.
Recognize Hard Work
Acknowledging a job well done is a tremendous motivator. That said, it is important to understand what form of recognition works best for each individual. For some employees, words of encouragement such as “Good job” or “Thank you” will go a long way in this regard. For others, an Employee Appreciation Day or a monetary incentive will work best. Regardless of the form, ongoing and consistent recognition will cultivate positive attitudes in the workplace.
Encourage Personal Responsibility
To be engaged, employees need to be given the opportunity to show their ability to comply with new workplace policies and to master new procedures. Hovering over or micromanaging employees will only result in added stress and resistance.
As a practical example, a hybrid employees must be accorded personal responsibility for assessing their workspaces and following proper safety procedures to reduce their risk for injuries or illness while working remotely. An employer could promote compliance and mastery by providing an assessment guide and checklist identifying the broad range of risks that may be present at home, including, but not limited to, ergonomics, electrical and fire hazards, and data security.
Cultivate an Environment Free of Fear or Retaliation
Punishing employees for making mistakes or wrong choices under a new policy or procedure will lead to disengaged employees. Taking a more positive approach to implementation by allowing for employee input while continuing to encourage compliance is the optimal choice for increasing engagement. Further, and of significance, employers must avoid taking any actions related to implementing new policies and procedures that could be construed as harassing, discriminatory or retaliatory.
Ultimately, employees who are highly engaged are more likely to be happier and to be more productive, which leads to a multitude of benefits throughout the organization. Keeping employees engaged by following the guidelines outlined above will be essential to promoting and maintaining this culture.
01 November 2021
HR News Article