Employee engagement is an important element of HR and the wider business at any time. Communication and engagement with employees are essential for both the employer and employee and doing so is a key pillar of the future of work.
An engaged workforce is a happier, more motivated workforce. Employee retention and loyalty are greater and the benefits of this can be felt across the organization. The workforce is slowly but surely changing. There is much more focus now on collaboration, structures are flatter, and businesses are looking to be innovative, agile, and dynamic as they find their place in the modern world.
None of this has changed during the current coronavirus lockdown, but what has changed is the nature of employee engagement. People all over the world are working from home, which poses several interesting questions about employee engagement and collaboration during this period as well as the future of work and the vital role that idea management can play.
Employee engagement during the pandemic
In April 2020, Wazoku commissioned research into how U.K. companies are approaching employee engagement during the coronavirus crisis. In an unprecedented period, the results show that many organizations are doing a decent job of keeping employees engaged during this time.
About 86% of our research respondents say their organization has provided enough technical information for them to work from home effectively; 70% say their employer has taken steps to ensure their mental health and well-being is addressed; and 72% say they have been consulted about how best they can all approach home-working during the crisis.
This is highly encouraging. The technical side of working from home is relatively easy, but getting the communication and engagement right is much harder. Some people live on their own, so communication with colleagues is taking on much more importance than it might during "normal" times.
The increased importance of collaboration
At all stages of the coronavirus crisis, there have been examples of collaboration at a local, national, and international level. Communities coming together to pool thoughts, ideas, and innovation will be critical to getting through the pandemic. It is also true that organizations have never needed to look at collaboration and co-creation as much as they do right now.
Many businesses have needed to pivot urgently to maintain cash flow and to ensure that they have a future. New products and services have been thought of and launched more rapidly than ever, and the research showed that 61% of respondents have been involved in this idea-gathering process.
This makes sense right now. Who is better placed to understand whether a pivot is viable or not than the people who work for an organization and spend their time talking with customers? But it also is encouraging for future idea management and innovation projects: to have almost two-thirds of employees contributing to such discussions is a powerful metric.
A need for the right tools
By engaging with employees in this way, not only does an organization collate and move forward the great ideas they have, but it also involves workers in the future direction of the company and makes people feel that their input is valued and prioritized. But employees need the right platform or tools for effective co-creation and ideation.
Zoom is an excellent communications platform and one that has seen huge spikes in usage over the past two months. But it doesn’t facilitate collaboration and the discussion of ideas in the same way that idea management tools do. In short, it won’t save your business.
But idea management might. These tools have proved highly effective for employee engagement during this pandemic. Many of Wazoku’s customers have been using idea management to drive truly tangible employee engagement, including many focused on the human needs throughout the pandemic and mental health challenges. But is also used as a platform for discussions on new products and services.
Co-creation and the future
The current lockdown period is challenging us all in ways in which we have rarely encountered before. About 80% of the research respondents believe the coronavirus crisis is the biggest challenge they have known in their working lives and that the long-term impact on health, well-being, and the economy is yet to be revealed.
But co-creation and innovation will continue to be important as we emerge from the pandemic. The research revealed that the areas of business most affected by people working from home were internal collaboration around ideas (28%) and external collaboration around ideas (23%). Finding ways of ensuring these do not become bigger problems will be a priority.
Idea management software has emerged as a powerful tool for employee engagement and is also a proven solution for the gathering, discussion, and development of ideas and innovation. As businesses have needed ideas and co-creation to ensure their future, so idea management has delivered as the most effective way of managing that process.
The tangible employee engagement it offers ensures that employees feel empowered and that they have an important and valued role within the business, while employers reap the benefit of this collective insight and brainpower as they seek to move forward. Ensuring this continues as we emerge from the lockdown will surely be a key priority for many organizations.