In this post-pandemic age, ‘employee engagement’ has become a critically important issue for business in Asia. Here’s why, and here’s what you can do to ensure it becomes a decisive competitive edge for your business.
Perhaps the most profound impact of the Covid-19 pandemic the way it has fundamentally changed the world of work. Perhaps forever.
With remote and hybrid work – along with physical disconnectedness – now becoming the norm, ‘employee engagement’ is being increasingly seen as a critically important issue for business. In Asia and all around the world
Smart businesses have always realised that employees are their most important asset. But that, of course, is only true when the majority of the workforce is truly engaged in their work. If not, they are either adding minimal or no value, or may even be actively working against the organization’s interests.
Yet employee engagement itself is a slightly abstract concept; part art, part science. It’s the “emotional connect” that an employee feels towards the organization. It’s also what motivates an employee to deliver her/his very best, and to contribute meaningfully to the advancement of the business.
But in our punch-drunk, post-pandemic world how do you ensure that your employee engagement levels are as high as they could be in 2022?
Make flexibility and work-life balance an integral part of the employee experience
Seeking work-life balance is not a new concept, but COVID has moved it to the top of virtually every employees’ shopping list.
Most job functions don’t require employees to be at work every day physically. Work-from-home options, flexible office timings, remote working options are all very cost-friendly and highly effective employee engagement choices that you should be incorporating into your overall employment strategy. It’s what workers want and it’s already becoming the norm.
Recent surveys support this proposition. In a pre-pandemic 2018 poll 75% of workers said they experience greater productivity at home. They said they encounter fewer distractions (74%), less stress from commuting (71%), and fewer office politics (65%). (1)
Back then it was only on the wish-list of many workers. With Covid, it has been normalised and now nearly two-thirds of employees regularly work remotely or out of their homes. (2)
Counter-intuitively, the concept is now considered critical for enhanced employee engagement.
Employee engagement improves when you focus on workplace wellness
As a result of the pandemic, people in Asia and all over the world are more aware of their health and wellbeing.
As a result, more and more companies are taking up wellness initiatives for its employees and 2022 will see this employee engagement trend dramatically increase.
Prioritising mental health in the workplace makes good business sense
The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly exacerbated existing mental health challenges, and it has also pushed many more people to a place on that continuum where they are experiencing distress.
The idea of bringing mental health out of the shadows is particularly important in Asia. As a region, Asia faces two main mental health challenges – stigma and overwork. One recent study from Singapore showed that 86.5 percent of employees do not seek help for their mental health because of the stigma around it. (3) This stigma and the shame often associated with mental health challenges may be due to lack of awareness or to traditional beliefs.
To improve employee engagement and workplace well being, Asian business leaders need to consider mental health outcomes across five domains: designing workplaces to minimize harm, building both organizational and individual resilience, facilitating early help-seeking, and supporting recovery and return to work. Importantly, any intervention also needs to take into account the societal and cultural context in the region. (4)
In addition to the above there are three other significant areas employers need to focus on if they wish to improve employee engagement levels.
Make yours a people-first culture
In 2022, as a result of the pandemic, we are entering a culture-first era. Employee engagement, merely another business concept a decade ago, is now a prime business goal. Employers well realise that they need to elevate their company culture or risk losing top talent
Yet a people-first culture can only flourish when every individual feels cared for and respected by the organization. It is a road that every organization must now travel.
Meaningful work means greater employee engagement
Exciting and challenging work is one of the prime and long-lasting motivators for employees. Your employees might continue to work in the absence of interesting work, but they will not put their heart and soul into it.
Employers and managers can play a special role here. A good performance management system, welcoming suggestions, and setting goals are some ways to do so. Doing so will attract the right talent as well as retain valuable employees.
Make training and career growth a priority
Employees today seek career progression in their profession more than anything. They want to be in a job that helps them grow as an individual, personally and professionally. They want to shape their careers with every job role they play progressively.
Each of these are not complex, but they should be priorities. Get it right and word of mouth will ensure your business becomes a sought after place to work.
In the wake of Covid many companies now use a workforce management partner to ensure their employee engagement levels remain high. If you would like to learn more about improving employee engagement, workplace culture and your company’s Employer Brand (EB) – a vital part of talent recruitment – then please contact CXC.