Employee engagement has experienced a dramatic drop, according to Gallup’s latest poll in recent weeks. Only 31 per cent of employees are feeling engaged at work. If you were to do a virtual lap of the office, only one in three people at your company are feeling energised by the work they are doing. While there are many things outside of our control, here are several strategies that you can adopt to proactively make your workplace a great one to work at – even during Covid. Reframe how you v
you view your staff It’s easy to get caught up in survival mode when things are stressful. In conversations with leaders, many ask me, “How can I get my staff working harder/better/faster to help my organisation survive the pandemic?” While productivity is critical for business survival, so too is recognising that your staff are human. A far more productive way to frame your thinking is to ask: What can I do to serve my staff better during this really challenging time? And by treating people with respect and kindness, ironically, productivity will improve too. Remember the basic building blocks of human motivation Covid has had a big impact on the collective mental health of workers in Australia. Soon after the second lockdown in Victoria, calls to Lifeline increased by 22 percent and Beyond Blue saw a doubling of demand for its services. When mental health declines, so does motivation. As such, coming back to the three building blocks of motivation – autonomy, mastery, and connection – is essential. Leaders need to focus on helping team members increase at least one of these three aspects at work. To boost autonomy, ensure you are providing your team with freedom in what they do and how they choose to do it. For mastery, encourage staff to consider learning and development opportunities that could help them with the new challenges that Covid has presented us with in the workplace, and make sure they have interesting projects to work on. Finally, ensure that you and your team prioritise human connection – even if it’s only via phone or video calls right now. Clean up your meetings In the remote world, the way we do meetings has changed. According to research from Microsoft, time spent in meetings has increased by 10 per cent, although on the upside, shorter meetings of 30 minutes or less have increased by 22 per cent. It’s easy to treat meetings as a necessary evil of office life, but to make your workplace a great one, leaders need to obsess over how they are running their meetings – and if all of them are even necessary. Doing so can dramatically improve people’s experience at work, as more than 15 per cent of a person’s job satisfaction is based on how happy they are with the meetings they attend. When cleaning up meetings, team status updates are a great place to start. And according to research by Harris Poll, 17 per cent of people would prefer to watch paint dry than attend these often lengthy meetings. Ask yourself: Is there a more efficient or more enjoyable way for this information to be shared? Could a Google Sheet do the same job and win your team back an hour or two every week? Stop worrying about change fatigue. Provide certainty instead. Atlassian’s co-founders recently announced to all staff they could work from home for forever. The power of this announcement lies in that it creates certainty for people, which in turn, reduces anxiety. “I think humans are very good at change,” Dom Price, Head of Research and Development and the resident Work Futurist at Atlassian recently told me on the How I Work podcast. “I actually think that what we’re struggling with right now is uncertainty. It’s just not knowing what’s going to happen next and that uncertainty causes anxiety.” While you may not be able to provide certainty on a lot of things, erring on the side of over-communication and transparency will help reduce anxiety. Dr Amantha Imber is the founder of behavioural science consultancy Inventium and the host of How I Work, a podcast about the habits and rituals of the world’s most successful people.