The Evolution of Employee Engagement

Now that we have entered a new year, it’s often customary to reflect upon the year being left behind. Many things can be said about 2020, but when it comes to employee engagement, a few key points stand out.

Health & Wellbeing
The unknown nature of COVID-19, combined with the need for widespread precautionary measures, led to people’s concern for their health and that of their loved ones taking center stage. In addition to physical health, mental health and wellness gained importance. People Element’s COVID-19 impact study revealed how the top issues on employees’ minds included health and safety concerns, which led to increased stress, anxiety, and burnout among workers.

Whole Person Engagement
The sudden shift toward working remote led to the blurring of the line between work and non-work life, and work-life balance turned into work-life blending. With there being less distinction of when to switch from work mode to family mode, the impact of an employee’s life outside of work created a more noticeable impact on how employees behaved during work hours, and the concept of whole-person engagement gained momentum. This notion of whole-person engagement means that in addition to their motivations and values while at work, a person’s home life and unique circumstances will also impact their behavior and work performance. From homeschooling to unconventional work schedules, to navigating quarantine mandates, employees had to face a wide range of unforeseen challenges on the home front.

Employee Connection
While having a sense of connection among employees had already been a key part of engagement, ensuring that employees feel connected with each other was even more critical to engaging employees this past year. With most employees working remotely, fewer opportunities for interaction meant a greater likelihood of feeling isolated and a lack of belonging. Managers and teams were challenged to find new and creative ways to stay in touch and communicate with each other.

While most would agree that this past year was like no other, one thing that’s certain is that the way we view employee engagement has changed dramatically, and it remains to be seen whether this is the new normal or if things will return to a pre-COVID-19 reality. By taking into account the new challenges employees face in their home and work lives, and their need for connection and communication, managers and leaders can be in a better position to provide what employees need to thrive and succeed.

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