Employee Engagement 2021: What’s different and what should HR prioritize? Priyal Ray 10 months ago Employee Engagement 2021 Love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it. This might as well have been 2020’s tagline. Looking back at the year that has almost gone by, one might be tempted to only notice the obstacles it has brought in. But what it has also brought in is an entirely new variety of workplaces, now known as the hybrid workplace, and along with that a set of new changes, challenges, and learnings that nobody in the HR space can afford to ignore. Aside from re-establishing change as the only constant, there’s another thing that this year has made extremely clear: the only way an organization can make it through such times is by keeping employees engaged and eventually retaining them. However, we’re also aware that this is easier said than done. The traditional workplace has been left behind in 2020 and certain employee touchpoints have also become a thing of the past. But, employee turnover remains expensive. How then does one ensure engagement and retention in the year ahead? While there’s no foolproof method to be followed, here are a few things HRs can do to ensure higher employee engagement and lower attrition in 2021. Organize frequent team building activities When it comes to employee engagement, one size does not fit all. You need to know your employees to know what keeps them motivated. With the distance between HR and employees having increased now, getting to know your employees can be especially difficult. Team building activities, such as impromptu ice-breaking quizzes or team members sharing trivia about themselves, can help employees open up and induce a feeling of togetherness among teams. Amongst the biggest struggles with remote working, loneliness is a major concern for 20% of employees. This goes out to further show how it is essential for HR to prioritize team-building activities and tools a lot more than they did in the traditional workplace. Team building needs to become a part of the HR strategy, as opposed to the one-off activity that it was earlier. By making such activities a part of the company culture, HR can ensure they know their audience a lot better and create retention strategies that work. Prioritize work-life balance and wellness With remote working entering the scenario, work-life balance has gone for an absolute toss and there’s fear that this might become the new normal. Employees are now always accessible and there’s nothing to stop managers from handing out assignments at any hour of the day or night, and one does not need statistics to know that this is leading to higher levels of stress among employees. We can agree that there’s no way to immediately enact a culture where work-life balance and employee wellness becomes a priority. However, the fact that a whopping 77% of employees have experienced burnout at their current job indicates the need to ensure employees take time off. It is also crucial for HR to conduct regular surveys and pay attention to employees who show signs of burnout. Reaching out to such employees and figuring out a way to ensure they have enough time to themselves can go a long way in ensuring organizations do not lose them. Do not underestimate the power of a wellness program, as well. 58% of employees say that a fitness and wellness package is a major factor that determines whether or not they accept a job offer and later stay with the organization. So, if you don’t yet have a wellness benefit as part of your job offer, 2021 might be the year to consider including one. Give out constant appreciation and recognition Positive reinforcement can go a long way in keeping employees motivated, and recognition does exactly that. When employees do their job well or go out of their way to make an initiative a success, ensure that their efforts are not overlooked. Having a structured employee recognition program in place can help ensure employees get the much-deserved praise and do not feel disengaged with the organization. Putting out company-wide announcements when an employee does something worth recognition can go a long way in ensuring your attrition rates are kept at a minimum. Invest in your onboarding and training program In a traditional workplace, new hires went through a proper training process and HR departments could be directly involved in their onboarding. One of the major challenges of both the remote and the hybrid workplaces is to ensure that training and onboarding do not deteriorate. An efficient onboarding process can increase your new hire retention by 82%. The power of a good first impression is not unknown and it has a major impact on employee retention. Socializing a new hire was an organic process in the traditional workplace, but will have to be consciously instilled in the new hybrid workplace. Be it a buddy system, or having a proper training deck in place, go with whatever works better for your organization. However, pay special attention to your new employees and ensure they do not feel overwhelmed and lost. Make your leadership more approachable A culture of trust and transparency can help employees feel at home, and your leadership is a good starting point for the same. Keeping your employees keyed in on any major decisions and making them feel like they have direct insight into how your organization functions, can help ensure employees remain more invested. From an investment announcement to festival greetings, try to ensure important information comes directly from the leadership’s mouth and reaches every employee in the warmest way possible. It might even be a good idea to make leadership a part of any team-building activities and for them to seek feedback from employees about what can be improved. 2020 was not easy on us and threw our way a lot of unexpected and unforeseen challenges. So, build an employee engagement policy that is far-sighted and try not to lose track of the abovementioned pointers. Here’s hoping things will look up in the coming year and if not, then 2020 has taught us that being prepared never hurts.