As somebody interested in employee engagement – how would you define it? Here at Broadstone, we think employee engagement is all about the relationship between a business and its people. It should be all-embracing and include not just the wellbeing of employees but also the overall culture fostered by the organisation.
The new normal
As life in the UK slowly starts to return to normal there is no doubt that firms are going to notice a difference between pre-and-post covid working life. The pandemic has brought permanent changes to the way we work – our business culture, how we interact with each other, harnessing new technology, working from home and becoming more considerate of staff wellbeing are just some of the topics we are discussing with clients.
One thing that seems clear is how, while working remotely does have its benefits, it has not just physically removed staff from their team, but in many cases, it has also removed them mentally – despite many businesses best efforts. This is bad news for employee engagement as feeling disconnected from your employer and your colleagues could result in high staff turnover, more absence and your team failing to recommend you as an employer.
Whatever your post-covid workplace looks like, a core responsibility for HR and Reward teams must be to re-engage and re-connect with staff to ensure that once again your teams, regardless of size, have that feel good factor about working for your business. This will ensure higher productivity, lower absenteeism and of course, better relationships with colleagues and customers.
Listening is often undervalued
While it is vital that a positive engagement culture comes right from the top of your business, it has to be embraced by the whole company. Ask anyone who works in this area and they will tell you the single most important factor for successful staff engagement is listening to what people want.
All of us are emerging from lockdown with different worries and concerns, we can’t assume that everyone has had the same experience over the last year. Some people may have lost family or friends, some may have been ill or lived with somebody who has been ill. Some may have struggled financially, others may have felt severely isolated. You may have staff who are anxious about lockdown ending or team members who have lost their confidence.
Staff wellbeing has to be a number one priority and providing what your staff need now will be targeted correctly by listening to how you can support them. We say this because there can be quite a significant gap in what employers think staff want and what staff actually want. While HR and Line Managers may feel very satisfied with the benefit packages offered, staff don’t always share their view. When it comes to employee benefits there is a definite case of mind the gap – it’s a big one!
So, as your workplace starts to re-emerge from the gloom, don’t assume you know what they want – ask them. In doing so your business is clearly demonstrating to staff how much they matter – what benefits would they like and how would they like to access them?
Technology is here to stay
The permanent changes to working practices that many businesses have been forced to adopt won’t just stop there and will also apply to how they offer and engage staff with their benefits offering. Using technology to keep people connected has become part of the new normal and the same applies to employee benefits.
That’s why we don’t just see our Flexcel technology as a benefits platform, but rather an engagement and communication tool for businesses of all sizes. What’s on offer can be tailored to the wants and needs of your employees, allowing you to offer a rewarding and relevant experience when they’re making benefit choices or looking for help.
For instance, we’ve seen a huge demand for employers wanting to offer wellbeing benefits that can help manage stress and anxiety. With Flexcel they can and employees have 24/7 access to the platform, so they can get the help they need at any time they need it. Furthermore, at a time when employees may be able to save more without their commuting costs, they may want to take advantage and contribute more into their pension – and with Flexcel they can easily do this online and all the administration is automated for them and you as the employer.
As we start to connect with our employees again, developing an approach that places employees’ front and centre of all decisions will ensure mutual respect and exchange between them and you. It’s a win-win for both parties for re-engaging with each other in a post-covid world.