The Daily Grind

How to engage and inspire your people in 2021 and beyond

How can you build a positive workplace culture in the midst of global challenges?

3 minutes

Written by Linda Karkafi

I’m sure you would agree that every individual deserves to feel part of a higher purpose.

As leaders we have the privilege and responsibility to help our people connect to that greater purpose every day. While our People and Culture initiatives may look different this year, our commitment to engaging our employees needs to be stronger than it’s ever been.

In this article I discuss employee engagement and how you can build a positive workplace culture in the midst of a global pandemic.

What is employee engagement and how does it link to business performance?

The term ‘employee engagement’ is thrown around a fair bit, but what exactly is it?

Employee engagement is really simple – it’s about your people. It’s about influencing your people so they feel fulfilled in their role, connected to your business purpose and inspired to deliver their personal best. With the ups and downs of a global pandemic, it’s critical that we place our people at the centre of everything we do and ensure that they are feeling engaged and well supported. According to Gallagher's 2021 State of the Sector research, it was pleasing to see that the number one priority for HR and communication professionals this year is to engage their employees around their organisation’s purpose, strategy, and values.

Organisations that prioritise their people strategy and invest in building a highly engaged workforce will reap dividends. High levels of employee engagement has been proven to increase productivity, innovation, customer satisfaction and business profitability. In fact, Gallup research has shown that organisations with engaged employees are 21% more profitable, while the Harvard Business Review reveals that highly engaged organisations have double the rate of success than lower engaged organisations.

So how can we better engage our people?

Here are seven ways you can help improve employee engagement levels in your business and make a positive impact on your workplace culture.

  1. Empower your people to achieve inspiring goals together: Set an inspirational goal for your organisation and take your people on the journey with you. Find creative ways to communicate your goal and be sure to track and celebrate successes along the way.
  2. Give your people a voice: Open up channels of communication across all levels of your organisation. Ensure that your people are given many opportunities to contribute ideas and provide feedback.
  3. Make wellbeing a priority: Provide benefits or access to programs which support the wellbeing of your people. Ask them what services they would value and find practical ways to support them to live a well-balanced lifestyle.
  4. Make a difference together: Create opportunities for your people to give back to the community. Give them the space to rise above the day-to-day activities of the business and to work together for a local cause.
  5. Encourage leaders to be accessible: Ensure that your executives are visible to your employees. Where feasible have them visit your retail outlets, branches or offices. Even the simple action of picking up the phone and having a conversation with a handful of your employees can have a lasting and powerful impact on your people and culture over the long term.
  6. Celebrate successes and milestones: Make an effort to celebrate and acknowledge successes and special milestones. Take the time to publicly celebrate team wins, individual successes, awards, birthdays, years of service and don’t forget to warmly welcome new team members.
  7. Invest in employee communications: This is of particular importance as more of our workforce are working remotely. An effective employee communications strategy ensures that all your people regardless of where they are physically located:
  • Are clear about your organisation’s purpose, strategy and values.
  • Feel empowered to achieve inspiring goals together.
  • Are given a voice through various channels and open dialogues.
  • Feel recognised and rewarded for their achievements.
  • Have access to important information.

Regardless of the size of your organisation, your people need to feel a strong connection to your purpose, strategy and values. When your people feel engaged, they will feel valued for their contributions and empowered to make a difference. Not only will this create a positive workplace culture for your organisation, it will also enable you to build a sustainable competitive advantage over the long term.

Linda Karkafi

About the author

Linda Karkafi is the Director and Founder of Commcentric – a communications consultancy which helps leaders improve business performance through employee engagement strategies and world-class communication. Linda has close to 20 years of experience providing best practice communications advice to C-suite and senior executives in some of Australia's leading financial institutions, including the Commonwealth Bank and AMP Capital Investors. She graduated with a Master of Business at the University of Technology, Sydney in 2006. Linda is on a mission to make a positive impact in workplaces across Australia.

You can get in touch with Linda via our Member Directory!

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