When traditional employee engagement strategies aren't enough

Medically reviewed by Beth Holloway, RN, M. Ed
2020-11-13

Coronavirus has forced us all to adapt to change quickly, and that includes keeping employees engaged as things change around them too.

As Peter Drucker famously said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." In a 2018 study from JobVite, 88% of job candidates say company culture is at least relatively important. This becomes increasingly relevant as more employees work from home and adjust to changes.

Employee engagement used to mean pushing teamwork, performance management, and employee development. These are all still important strategies, but they're no longer at the center. When dealing with a new work-from-home (WFH) environment, companies and managers need to provide new benefits and support to maintain engagement.

Here are a few ways to make the working from home adjustment easier on employees.

1. It starts at the top

Senior managers set the example for the rest of the company, whether intentional or not. Employees are always absorbing how they approach problems, their attitudes when things get tough, and their own engagement with them. Working from home can cause increased strain on everyone, upper management included. 

Management can start by honestly assessing their own behaviors and begin moving towards improvement.

Where do employees feel disconnected? How is everyone's level of trust? Do employees feel like they can speak up when something isn't right? After some insight, begin creating milestones to get where you want to be. Brainstorm ideas, create an implementation strategy, and keep your employees in the loop. 

2. Make employees feel comfortable working at home (literally!)

More U.S. employees are working from home, and for many, it's their first time. Not everyone is set up for success, from thrown-together workspaces to upended routines. You can help with the adjustment by offering new perks, such as a home office stipend, fitness equipment reimbursements, and access to a health program that can help employees manage common conditions.

Goodpath offers integrative care for insomnia, back pain, and IBS, all conditions that may worsen due to the added pandemic-related stressors. All remote and led by a coach, our programs are simple to navigate and often show results within 3 months.

3. Help ease stress

We're all feeling the strain from an unpredictable year. With fears of COVID-19, struggles with kids' school and daycare, and the demands of everyday life, most employees will have additional stress. Companies can help by encouraging their employees to take breaks, get some exercise, and connect with colleagues.

Even a small increase in stress and anxiety can worsen many medical problems, including the ones Goodpath focuses on. We evaluate and address individuals' stress when we create their customized programs.

4. Simply listen

There's no reason to guess where your company could improve when employees can tell you themselves. One of the easiest methods is asking employees or managers directly. In cases where one may not get honest, unbiased answers, there are other tools like anonymous or third-party surveys, suggestion inboxes, or even brief interviews. These methods can go a long way in helping you assess needed engagement strategies.

No matter what you choose, don't just "set it and forget it." Check on your data often, look for trends, and devise creative solutions. Did most people disclose they've been experiencing back problems since working from the kitchen table? Invest in a health program like Goodpath to make the adjustment easier.

Engaging employees is a constant evolution

Engagement has always been an important factor in retaining great employees. It became a lot more difficult when the world changed so rapidly. Most employees will be grateful for employers' creative and empathetic response.

Goodpath looks at the whole person and creates a plan to meet their short- and long-term needs for back pain, insomnia, and IBS. Our programs can be offered as an ancillary benefit in your company - implementation takes less than two weeks, from first introductions to the enrollment webinar.

Get started with a demo at goodpath.com/employer.