For most of us, the pandemic has forever altered our workplaces. While some work remotely without any physical connection with their organizations, others work at their usual posts but under very new, frightening circumstances. Either way, this current crisis has upended everyone’s work and life in general.

Organizations worldwide now have to adapt their business plans accordingly. But more importantly, they need to find ways to keep their employees engaged to ensure productivity, customer satisfaction, and shareholder value.

Engaged employees feel valued by their organization and in turn, feel a sense of pride in being part of the said organization. They exhibit a robust team spirit and go above and beyond their work duty to assist their colleagues, problem solve, and learn at every opportunity. Developing high levels of employee engagement is crucial for the success of every business. It needs to be thought of as a continuous process rather than a one-off initiative. This is true regardless of your type of business and needs to be at the forefront of your business. In fact, in developing strategies for businesses ranging from a restaurant to a coffee shop business plan, you must discuss ways in which you will work to increase employee engagement, several of which are discussed below.

Meaningful Work

One of the most significant factors that affect employee engagement, whether you have a traditional or an online business, is work meaningfulness. Managers must share with the employees their organization’s vision and long-term objectives along with how their work contributes to the fulfillment of these broader goals. Helping employees see how their work fits into the bigger picture will provide them with a renewed sense of purpose, thus, enhancing their work commitment and productivity.

This is especially important for customer-facing employees since these employees are usually some of the most disengaged in an organization. Managers must make extra efforts to help such employees understand how crucial their work is to the larger organization. A change in such employees’ attitudes will be reflected in better customer service directly leading to more business.

For their part HR can infuse more meaning into an employee’s work by allowing when possible more variety and autonomy into the job. Workers are more engaged when they are able to exert control over how they approach and execute their work. HR would do well to allow for such flexibility in the job descriptions itself as it will induce more quality people to apply. Furthermore, ample training opportunities need to be made available to employees who are interested in upskilling themselves. Such job enriching measures will improve employee performance and their overall work engagement.

Emotional Connect

Organizations need to initiate meaningful and frequent communication with their employees to keep them motivated and engaged. Weekly team meetings can be used to discuss new work ideas, give feedback on ongoing projects, and talk about any issues that the team might be currently facing. This can be followed up by monthly one-on-one meetings with individual team members to discuss their performance, training needs, or just to solicit their views on the organization and their work in general.

There are innumerable formal and informal ways to establish a connection with workers. HR can use surveys and seek suggestions from employees on a variety of issues. Internal blogs that update employees on new projects happening in an organization help keep them informed and included. Such blogs should also allow employees to record their views on topics discussed. Similarly, videoconferencing can be used to establish an emotional connection with remote team members. Such communication endeavors make employees feel heard in an organization. It is an empowering feeling that will increase employee engagement.

Actionable Metrics

Finally, to roll out initiatives that will truly address the engagement levels of employees, you need data that will point out different problem areas within the organization. Engagement surveys will help you do exactly that. These surveys strive to measure employee motivation and commitment to work. Results from these surveys should be disseminated throughout the organization. And managers must be encouraged to create action plans to tackle specific employee engagement needs that might have cropped up in the survey findings.