We have discovered something surprising recently- employee engagement levels have increased across the board for our clients since COVID struck. It has never been more important to capitalise on this increase and to prevent it from dropping after life returns to normal.
We have conducted many customer and employee assessments recently in order to monitor feedback closely during this difficult time. We expected to see a fall in customer and employee satisfaction levels during the pandemic, but in fact we found quite the opposite and that employee satisfaction levels in particular have increased. We investigated the cause of this rise and found that there were multiple factors responsible, all adding up to a meaningful change in management approach. The old hierarchical command and control management style had been replaced with a new sense of being part of a team, with greater levels of trust and empowerment.
At the beginning of lockdown, it was quickly recognised that excellent communication paths needed to be established and maintained with staff to counter the increased physical distance. Communications were ramped up from senior management to individual team level. Frequent updates were provided to explain key decisions from the top down. Day to day team management was stepped up, with the frequency of regular meetings and one on ones increased. Remote team activities were organised, and staff were encouraged to keep in regular contact with each other. It turned out that relationships strengthened despite the lack of face to face contact, with staff feeling like they were part of a team working towards a common cause.
For many industries, remote and flexible working had not seemed like viable choices. Concerns had frequently been raised over potential falls in staff productivity. However, the epidemic meant that new ways of working were a necessity. Equipment was supplied and new technologies and practices introduced. It didn’t take long to get things working smoothly and the payment of a home working bonus helped to sweeten the deal for those concerned about the additional heating and electricity cost.
The school and nursery closures meant that employers were forced to allow greater flexibility with working patterns. Suddenly parents were able to fit working days around childcare, allowing them to not only spend more time with their children but also to get their work done at the times when it suited them. Emergency leave days were granted, which parents really appreciated as it made them feel that their employers understood their pressures and responsibilities. The removal of the daily commute meant that there was a longer working day available and in many cases productivity increased.
Some of our clients made a point of not using the furlough scheme or offering this as a choice. Feedback indicated that people really appreciated this gesture and felt that their employer had their back. All in all, these experiences made employees feel that their company cared about them, valued their efforts and were prepared to step in to help them, even if it came at a cost to themselves. All these factors led to a greater sense of happiness and engagement. Some reported that before lockdown they had been job hunting but had now stopped. Others said that they felt a new sense of pride working for their company.
Various studies have shown that companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors, provide a better customer experience and produce a higher profit margin. A recent study by Oxford University found that workers were 13% more productive when happy. If you have a culture where people are happy and engaged then not only does this enthuse customers, but staff also have the required motivation to come up with ideas, make improvements and find ways to increase sales.
The COVID epidemic has meant that employers have had to change the ways they have always done things. Relationships have been strengthened and long running changes have been accelerated. Teams are stronger than ever before, ready for the return of usual business. But with this comes the awareness that improvements must not be allowed to drop. The amount of time and investment required in normal times to recreate it would be unbelievably huge, so we must do everything we can to maintain this and build upon it.
CXCo can help you with this. We would start with a comprehensive employee and customer experience assessment to establish your current state of play. We can then use our extensive experience and expertise to build a plan to maximise and maintain your performance and keep you working as a team.