Employers are constantly looking for ways to support employee growth and improve employee engagement — tasks that became increasingly more difficult when COVID-19 hit and employees began working remotely, were put on furlough or laid off and salaries were cut, and businesses decreased or froze spending to preserve resources. How, then, are employers to continue to develop employees and keep them engaged despite having fewer resources and ongoing uncertainty ahead?
Consider supporting the communities where you do business. In addition to fulfilling your social responsibility, you and your employees can benefit greatly.
Employees are looking for ways to contribute to more than a company’s financial goals—especially Millennials who are looking for more meaning in the work that they do. Employees will feel more connected and engaged if the employer has an understanding of the issues the community is facing, and is committed to doing its part to provide support, assistance or resources. Giving employees the opportunity to give back to the community will emotionally connect them with your organization, thereby driving their loyalty.
Employees are used to talking business or engaging in small talk while in the office, but getting people together outside of the office is a great way for them to connect on a more meaningful level (though you may need to get creative, with social distancing restrictions in place). This is particularly true if you offer a variety of opportunities for people to give back, allowing people to gravitate toward events or opportunities that align with their skills or interests. Developing a meaningful relationship helps build the foundation for trust and improves overall relationships.
Providing volunteer or other engagement activities can give managers the opportunity to challenge employees outside of their usual work environment. Employees can be given the opportunity to step up and organize an event, coordinate coworkers, mentor newer employees or take the lead in any other number of ways that their current role doesn’t offer. This can be used to provide variety in a job where it doesn’t otherwise exist.
Committing your organization to efforts that will benefit the community contributes positively to your company’s culture. Engaging the organization in worthwhile community efforts is the company’s opportunity to “walk the walk”—to show employees and prospects that they don’t just say they are committed to giving back, they actually do it. This makes employees believe that this is an overall better place to work.
Community involvement opportunities are a great way to attract new talent, especially talent that values giving back, because of the perceptions attached with these efforts.
It just so happens that communities are in need of help of all different kinds at this time. Some communities have been devasted by a natural disaster and are in need of food and clean water, while others are struggling with divisiveness and need acts of kindness and goodwill to foster unity.
Wherever your business is located, there are opportunities for involvement spanning from financial contributions, drives to obtain supplies or products, or time and energy. Consider reaching out to local organizations to see how you can help, or give employees the opportunity to nominate organizations or causes that are important to them. The more involved employees are in the process, the more they and the organization are likely to benefit.
Hannah advises employers on leave policies, discrimination, harassment, accommodations, wage and hour obligations and any other issues that may arise in the workplace.
Hannah advises employers on leave policies, discrimination, harassment, accommodations, wage and hour obligations and any other issues that may arise in the workplace. In addition to providing practical solutions to employment law matters, Hannah has extensive private practice experience. Her focus included early intervention advice and solutions to employers, as well as representing them in the defense of administrative claims. She now works on a team dedicated to providing solutions for employment law and compliance matters for employers of all sizes. Hannah graduated from William Mitchell College of Law, after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Winona State University.
A recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reported 94% of leaders feel employee engagement is an important or very important workforce challenge. An engaged workforce increases operational income by over 19%, while a disengaged workforce can drain over 34% of an organizations’ operational income. Additional risks of low engagement can be seen in increased turnover, low customer satisfaction ratings and even increased employment litigation.
During the White House’s Summit on Working Families on June 24, 2014, President Obama indicated he was signing a presidential memorandum requiring every federal agency to address flexible work schedules and give employees the right to request such schedules. Absent what could be a dramatic increase in workplace flexibility for federal employees, it is undeniable that the demand for flexibility and work-life balance is on the rise.
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