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  • Sheridian Aiken, SPHR

Waiting to Be Engaged

There can be no denying it - Human Resources has earned its seat at the table this past year! In addition to managing day to day issues, the challenge of keeping employees engaged while social distancing and masks are our new norm was uncharted for all of us. As more people return to work from their “virtual office”, things will not be the same. All employees will be out of their comfort zone.

There is a lot of discussion about engagement, but what does “engagement” really mean? This term can have various meanings. For Human Resources, engagement is an employee’s emotional commitment to support the organization and help the organization achieve its goals. Employees who are engaged are committed and give of themselves. Some would refer to this as the employee’s discretionary effort or the employee’s choice. For example, the employee who is engaged might pick up garbage on the floor even if their boss is not looking or the employee who will work overtime without being asked in order to finish a critical project.

Several studies support that engaged employees help the bottom line of the organization. Engaged employees increase customer satisfaction, improve safety and quality. At the same time, engagement is challenging and often hard to measure. Every Human Resource professional who has been on the battlefield of engagement knows how challenging it is.

As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, what will your new workplace look like? Employees returning to work will be looking forward to seeing co-workers in the lunchroom, on coffee breaks, or at the water cooler. COVID-19 rules may prevent them from this social interaction.

Given that COVID-19 rules may have changed the workplace from what employees remember, perhaps some form of “welcome (back) orientation” to the new workplace might be useful for employees transitioning back to onsite work? How might we provide outlets for the essential social aspects of work for those employees who miss regular interaction and collaboration with their colleagues?

Share with me your thoughts on how we can help each other as we all face: What does employee engagement look like now?

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