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Editor’s Question: How can business leaders keep employees engaged while working from home?

Editor’s Question: How can business leaders keep employees engaged while working from home?

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Mark Gregory, Co-Author of The Engagement Habit, explains how business leaders can keep employees engaged while working from home.

One of the absolutely crucial things about employee engagement is consistency. Rather than viewing employee engagement in isolation, as something that needs to be ticked off a to do list or done in silo to the rest of the business – it should really be seen as a collection of habits (things that as a leader you say, do and act as a role model) that, when performed, consistently underpin the culture of an organisation.

When viewed in this way, the context in which people are working (whether that be office-bound, from home or even a different country) doesn’t really matter – the wants and needs of employees are still the same.

For business leaders who are struggling with employee engagement there are a number of steps that you can take to engender higher levels of engagement in your team or organisation. But even just focusing on two to three habits, but with intensity and frequency, will reap rewards.

Never underestimate the value of making time for your people. We all have an innate desire to be heard, so block-out engagement time every single week. You will also find that in the long run it will make you more productive as you’ll know exactly what’s happening in your organisation. This is especially important right now when employees may feel isolated from the main business. Have two-way conversations with them, don’t simply communicate. It is also important to build a personal connection – get to know your employees on a personal level and show them that you care about them as employees and individuals.

Make sure that you spend time connecting with different influencing groups in your company. Don’t just talk to your direct reports, talk to people at all levels. You may spend a lot of time talking to a line manager but forget to prioritise everyone lower down in the company. You need to build credibility and reliability across the board. If you are a CEO it is important to make sure that managers beneath you are engaged. There is often an assumption that line managers are engaged simply because they have the title leader or manager. Lots of middle managers are disengaged and in turn, it’s impossible to engage somebody when you’re not engaged yourself. What’s on the inside, eventually manifests itself on the outside.

Finally, the past 12 months have seen unprecedented uncertainty, as well as cutbacks and redundancies. A crucial factor in this climate is transparency and not to give fantasy oxygen. In the absence of fact, people join the dots and create fantasy. Employees with very little information may take various snippets and end up making something up – believing they are about to be made redundant or the business is downsizing. In work, our fantasies tend to be negative. Being open and transparent with employees, even if you are having to make some difficult decisions, will only benefit you and the organisation in the long run.

The Engagement Habit by Mark Gregory and Alex Lewis is available to buy now.

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