The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously stated that the only constant in life is change. This applies as much to the world of business as to anything else and one of the main changes businesses owners face is an evolution in the fundamental concepts that keep their enterprise ticking. Communication does not mean the same thing it did thirty years ago. Hiring today has nothing to do with bygone times when a person stayed with a company for life. Productivity is in flux as individual cultures grapple with new global norms. The most recent change of this sort involves employee engagement, which in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic does not mean what it used to.
Workplace culture is less uniform today than ever. Some workers have returned to the office while others remain fully remote and others still maintain a hybrid balance. These unique arrangements reflect the new supreme importance of flexibility. The compounding difficulty of facing a deadly virus and an increasingly unstable world has led workers to prioritize well-being over profit, meaning their patience for rigid corporate structures has run thin. Inspiring employee engagement thus requires paying special attention to individual needs.
Retaining Employees Means Reframing the Employer-Employee Relationship
Keeping your team together and top talent aboard amidst this changing landscape is all about staying on pace. If you don’t change the way you relate to your employees you may soon find you won’t have employees with which to relate. This doesn’t mean you need to do all the work, though. The first step to sustained employee engagement is asking your team what they need to feel fulfilled. The following questions serve as a guide:
1. How do you wish to be recognized for your contributions?
2. What skills do you bring to the team and how can you leverage these for shared success?
3. What inspires you to continue pursuing professional growth?
4. How can authentic relationships be cultivated in the workplace?
5. Where do you find the most meaning in your work?
By sourcing this information from employees, you lay the groundwork for them to become the architects of their happiness. Upon the basis of the answers you receive, the next step is to commit to engaging collaboratively to modify tasks in the image of employees’ strengths. Ask:
1. What would you change about your job to tap dormant potential?
2. Which of your strengths go un- or under-used by your current role?
3. What one change would you make to bring greater meaning to your job?
4. To whom do you want to connect in the interest of building your current skillset?
Much of the current literature about employee engagement and workplace culture frame flexibility too narrowly. Retaining employees is not just about offering remote work opportunities and surprise days off; it is also about empowering workers to shape their roles in the image of their ambitions.