In my research over the years into employee engagement, one point that particularly strikes me is how a crisis can be a fork in the road for how organisations think about their people.
For some, a crisis becomes the time to put ‘soft’ topics on the back-burner; leaders may decide they’re too busy to worry about employee engagement, and when layoffs could be coming they may stop internal listening processes, especially if unwelcome feedback is anticipated. They may also believe that a recession will automatically lower engagement levels anyway – in which case there is little that can be done – and that a financial focus is the way ahead.
For others, it’s the exact opposite: they realise that they cannot succeed without their people being engaged too. They make sure that employees are informed and involved, and their energies are harnessed in order to help turn things around. For such organisations, it’s better to double down on employee engagement than risk employees just going through the motions of their job.
As William Kahn, the originator of the concept, said, individuals who are engaged at work become more energised in their role, give of their best and so positively impact their workplace as well; in short, “they fully inhabit their roles, not just do their jobs.”
Subsequent research has found a clear correlation between employee engagement and key topics such as innovation and customer satisfaction, so having engaged employees could be a key factor in the difference between success and failure for businesses.
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