Ways to Engage Employees in Turbulent Times

Ways to Engage Employees

In economic turbulent times its still, if not more, important to focus on ways to engage employees. Staff turnover among top talent hasn’t decreased and employee engagement is needed to cut costs and keep companies competitive.

Ways to Engage Employees in Turbulent Times

During the economic turbulent times of recent years it is easier to focus energies on scanning spreadsheets for budget cuts rather than driving employee engagement and thus performance. This is especially true given the popular myths that people don’t move jobs during a recession and that maintaining employee engagement requires significant financial investment.

Of course, all myths are underpinned by a semblance of truth. Voluntary attrition rates undoubtedly dropped in recent years, with fewer new jobs being created and many employees feeling safer in their current role.

Similarly, driving employee engagement is tougher but not impossible with fewer resources. However, organisations can and need to drive staff engagement if they are to successfully navigate these tricky times.

Studies show that more engaged employees are nearly twice as productive whilst talent, the people most likely to deliver outstanding results, will still change jobs during a downturn. great{with}talent’s recent Employee Engagement and Retention Survey showed that 75% of organisations have seen no slowing, and even a slight increase, in staff turnover amongst their top talent.

There are simple steps organisations can take to drive up employee engagement during these turbulent times, without increasing budgets.

Learn The Twelve Factors of Employee Commitment.

Senior Management and Engaging Employees

Turbulent times by definition bring uncertainty and confusion which in turn can lead to a drop in confidence, focus and subsequently performance amongst employees. Management communication, especially by senior leaders, is the first step to helping people stay engaged. However, this requires more than a rallying email from the CEO.

Senior management need to be more visible. If they hide, people will assume they have something to hide. Keeping people informed of what happening in the business shows trust and prevents gossip, which is always more negative than reality.

Management should provide people with the chance to ask questions outside of large meetings where they’ll only hear the more vociferous people. This can be in smaller meetings or one to one. It’s also important to spend time talking to key individuals, exploring their concerns and helping them make sense of what is happening.

The importance of such approaches is confirmed by 67% of the survey respondents stating they will be placing more focus on organisational communication in the current climate.

Read our insider interview on Talent Retention Solutions in Financial Services.

Communications Plan

One of the risks during a downturn is that people look to others to take responsibility or blame for the current situation. Employees look to management, business leaders to politicians and national politicians to global leaders. If organisations are to succeed, they need to take responsibility for their own destiny and involve their people in ensuring success.

This might include creating small cross-functional task forces to solve key organisational issues. This group can enable quick fixes, create wider collective ownership and improve communication across the business.

Alternatively, seek the ideas of people on the front line. They have a very different view of the business and are more likely to support bottom-up ideas rather than “yet another corporate edict”.

Finally, where top down decisions are necessary, explain why they have been reached and the benefits rather than focusing on the what and when, i.e. “just get it done now”.

Employee Development

Lastly is being more creative in finding opportunities to develop your people. Employee development is essential to performance capability and is a core factor in driving employee engagement.

Sadly, too often organisations think development equates to training so when budgets are tight development is effectively put on hold. However, there are numerous ways in which organisations can continue to develop their employees without serious budget implications.

This might include introducing mentoring. Adopting action learning can allow talent to work on key live issues whilst learning from their own and each other’s experiences or developing greater internal capability instead of paying for external resources.

These internal resources might include developing internal coaching capability or using top talent to facilitate the learning of others. This gives the added benefit of stretching and developing your own talent.

Despite the current challenges, 44% of respondents to the survey will be putting greater emphasis on learning and development in 2009.

Adopting such simple steps provides organisations with the opportunity to engage their people more effectively and potentially turn the old Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” into a modern day opportunity.

Contact great{with}talent and find out more about their TalentEngage employee engagement surveys.


(Main image from Skillsoft)

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