Jenny Perkins from Cirrus comments in The Times.

Engaged and committed employees are instrumental in businesses navigating the coronavirus crisis and will help determine who thrives in a post-pandemic world.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought concepts like employee engagement and performance management into sharp focus. Businesses are relying on the commitment of staff who are either working remotely or, in some cases, currently not working at all.

“Leaders and managers need to engage with people very regularly during this time when so many employees are working remotely,” says Jenny Perkins, head of engagement at leadership consultancy Cirrus. “Ask people what’s working well for them and what’s not. Check how they feel and demonstrate empathy.”

But COVID-19 or not, the link between employee engagement, performance management and business success is well established. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that innovation, customer satisfaction and profits all rise in tandem with positive employee experience.

But if employee engagement works, why isn’t everybody doing it? A Gallup poll found a staggering 87 per cent of employees worldwide are not engaged. One upshot of this, according to another, pre-COVID study, is a third of workers plan on moving jobs in the next 12 months.

Replacing experienced staff is hugely expensive. And even before they leave, demotivated employees can undermine performance standards and leave a trail of unhappy customers. Researchers have even tried to put a value on the cost to businesses of disengaged employees, pitching the figure at thousands of pounds per employee a year.

That’s not surprising. Research also shows that unengaged staff take more time off sick, lower team morale and have more accidents at work.

Perkins at Cirrus advocates a ‘“know, think, feel, do” model of employee engagement. Staff who know what an organisation’s purpose is will think harder about their part in it. If they feel valued, they’ll do more to make a difference.

“People want to feel connected and they want their contribution to be recognised. When people feel this way, they are more likely to go the extra mile,” she says. “Your people become genuine advocates for your business and care about customer satisfaction.”

© The Times Raconteur 2020.

Read this article in full on the Raconteur website.

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