This article was originally written for, and published by, Exhibition News in October 2022.
Engaging your workforce has never been more important.
The jury’s still out on ‘quiet quitting’ but, in the age of remote working, engaging your workforce has never been more important, says Live Group chief strategy officer Stephen D. Pickett.
Around the world, the ‘great resignation’ continues to raise many challenges for businesses. Now, with studies showing that employers are also dealing with a more disengaged and demotivated workforce, could quiet quitting pose an even greater risk to business growth?
The pandemic opened the doors for the term ‘quiet quitting’ to find its way onto HR agendas and into boardroom discussions, as workers around the world reportedly made conscious decisions to do only what their job demands and nothing more. Seen by some as an act of protest directly linked to the pandemic; perhaps by workers who were furloughed, unfairly let go, or felt leant upon during that time; it’s becoming commonplace to quietly quit as an alternative to resignation.
And, whilst figures from PWC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey suggest that one in five workers plans to quit their job before the year is out, could motivating disengaged employees can be an even trickier challenge for businesses to navigate than high numbers of resignation?
Investing in employee engagement
Of course, the definition of quiet quitting has attracted controversy as millions of people have simply taken the opportunity to readdress their post-Covid work/life balance.
Why should employees be criticised for trying to set more boundaries between work and home? Why have so many employers made it ‘business as usual’ for staff to take on additional work they’re not paid to do? And would so many people be resigning and quietly quitting, if businesses were investing in employee engagement strategies?
Europe currently has the lowest regional percentage of ‘engaged employees’ according to a recent Gallup study. And with a mere 9% of UK employees shown to be engaged at work, we rank 33rd out of 38 European countries.
Employers in every industry need to pay close attention to how engaged their teams are. After all, how can we attract new customers, clients and fresh talent if we are not doing enough to engage our own people with our vision, key messages and reasons for being.
Remote working is a blessing and a curse
Understandably, the age of flexible working is creating a Catch-22 for many business leaders.
Two years ago, we all thought remote working, virtual meetings and events were a temporary solution to a short-lived global pandemic. But, as the months and years have progressed, it has become the norm for many organisations.
Teams are spending much less time in the office than they used to. There might be a lack of in-person interaction and, when combined with higher than usual staff turnover rates, this could be having a detrimental effect on employee engagement.
Now, the challenge for business leaders is adapting how we operate. We must find ways to ensure the way individuals and teams are managed from a distance is engaging and helps attract and retain our very best talent.
Here are four tactics we recommend to our clients at Live Group, which you could put into practice this week:
1. Provide virtual recognition:
One of the downsides of remote working could be that employees aren’t receiving as much public recognition.
A study from earlier this year found that just 10% of Generation Z workers strongly agreed that recognition is a pillar of their workplace culture. The study showed that, although nearly four in ten employees amongst the youngest generation of workers would like to be recognised by their manager at least a few times a week, only a quarter of staff are being recognised at that frequency.
Businesses shouldn’t let virtual or hybrid working get in the way of public recognition among teams. Use online meetings and hybrid events as an opportunity to make people feel more connected to their team and to their achievements in the workplace.
This doesn’t necessarily mean big internal events and grand initiatives. We talk to our clients about shaping the right environments that can cater to the individual needs and preferences of their audience. Bringing people together in a way that allows them to really connect is when we find meaningful engagement really happens.
2. Provide structured and personalised learning:
Many cross-functional learning opportunities are being missed as a result of people working from home, teams coming into the office on different days and staff booking out their diaries on the days they come in.
The risk is a ‘brain drain’, whereby employees acquire their knowledge independently and subsequently take it with them when they leave.
Ensure everyone’s learning journey continues on an upward trajectory. Put in place programmes of structured communications with key measures to track engagement and crucially, personalised learning plans, tailored to accommodate every type of learner. It is so important that everyone is communicated with in the right way for them and their individual learning style.
3. Create connections to key messages:
As everyday interactions at work decrease, staff may forget (or simply fall out of love with!) your organisation’s core values and key messages.
It’s not enough to bring everyone together once or twice a year and hope that your employees will remain engaged in between.
Make an internal communications plan which delivers your key messages to your staff consistently and constantly, on different scales. Examine the frequency of your internal touchpoints, the technology you use, your spokespeople and the level of personalisation that is available. Consider the teams you need to target and attempt to tailor the message to make it relevant.
When shaping a vision for a clients’ event, or series of events, we always look to the company’s communications strategy and consider how the messaging will be understood, embraced and engaged with throughout the company.
4. Embrace the data:
It can be difficult to predict what your teams will respond to and which engagement strategies will deliver the most positive impact.
Similarly, when something doesn’t land well, it can be impossible to fathom what went wrong.
Take away the guesswork involved in your employee engagement programme by working with data. Decide what and how engagement will be measured. Establish benchmarks, targets and milestones and continue to tweak your approach.
For example, we use delegate insights to inform agendas, content, messaging, venues, digital experiences and so much more, to ensure our clients’ events make a measurable impact, constantly evolve, deliver results and, ultimately, improve engagement year on year. Data is core to everything we do at Live Group and we pride ourselves in understanding our audiences better than anybody else as a result.