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The pandemic means that it’s time to double down on our commitment wellbeing and employee engagement

The pandemic means that it’s time to double down on our commitment wellbeing and employee engagement 32

By Julie Cameron, Managing Director of DRIVE Engagement

Times are tough, business uncertainty is at an all-time high and budgets are tight. But now is not the time to cut employee engagement and company culture budgets.

Certainly, as a result of the pandemic many organisations may be inclined to cut certain functions within their business to reduce their overall costs. Rather unfortunately however, some of the first functions that are typically reduced in organisations consist of marketing, training, employee engagement and the company culture budget. However I truly believe that cutting these functions could just about be one of the worst things a company can do right now.

A knee jerk reaction to cut these functions may well free up some cash in the short term, but it is likely to do far more harm long term to a business. In fact, the way a firm manages their cost decisions now will determine how well they sustain performance during this crisis and indeed, emerge out of it.

During these difficult times, it is essential to focus on longer term rational strategies which will sustain a business. Not only does this make good business sense, but this will ensure the longevity of a business’s most important asset; it’s people.

Now is the time for businesses to double-down on their commitment to health, wellbeing and employee engagement. Those businesses who focus on techniques to give all employees a real voice and allow them to find solutions to the everyday problems they face themselves, and as a team, will certainly win out during these unprecedented times.

But how can this be done, especially without breaking the bank? It all starts with collaborative problem solving.

We believe that finding improvement themes, efficiencies and cost savings is the responsibility of everyone within a workplace. By facilitating structured opportunities, a firm can provide all employees with greater autotomy to drive the company forward by collaboratively problem solving, rather than feeling like the company is pushing them along or worse, that they are unable to make a valid contribution. Not only will this engage each and every team member, it will give them greater confidence in their abilities and bring them all closer together. It will also improve the bottom line too as they find solutions to the everyday problems within the company that are so often missed by the leadership teams. And it’s this kind of bottom up engagement that really is win-win too, because it continues to pay back year after year, therefore making it entirely free to implement.

Quite clearly employee motivation and staff morale has been impacted by the pandemic. With everyone working from home, social distancing or indeed, on furlough, many employees have started to feel cut off from their peers and line managers. This is especially true if these employees are used to working closely in an office or manufacturing environment. This alongside the increased anxiety around health, family and finances is all causing a big dent in overall employee happiness and their motivation.

Regular communication is essential to avoid this impacting the company culture. This will give employees a sense of unity, allow more clarity around the wider business and reassure them that they are valued. Certainly, maintaining morale and unity during this time will be paramount to foster a more resilient team and maintain an engaging culture long term.

As we continue through this ‘new normal’, how a business resets (and indeed communicates this) is a good opportunity to incorporate plans to reaffirm company values and work culture too amongst team members. What is required, now more than ever, is meaningful intrinsic motivation of all team members, no matter what their role.

Likewise providing an opportunity for employees to get involved in a team strengthening activity designed to reinforce brand values and give fresh focus, will help reconnect employees. And let’s face it, it’s also likely to provide some light relief from the inevitably more regimented way we’re all going to have to go about our daily roles and responsibilities for the foreseeable future.

There really is no better time for leadership teams to champion and instigate a stronger engagement mindset initiative and truly drive the work culture forward. Now is the time to re-affirm business culture and drive employee engagement longer term.

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