We know that it’s tricky to come up with new and exciting ways to keep the people in your organisation engaged over the Christmas period. We can hear the cogs turning in the brains of HR, employee engagement and internal comms managers from here. Rather than scouring the internet for fresh ideas, we’ve put our heads together to come up with twelve suggestions for you.
Download the infographic: “12 ways to engage your people at Christmas”
As well as providing you with these handy ideas, we felt it was important to delve deeper into the impact that this crazy year has had on employee engagement.
Engagement is not just for Christmas
Just like a dog, engagement is not just for Christmas. Whilst it might seem like there’s more motivation and opportunity to engage with your people over the seasonal period, it’s just as important (if not more important) throughout the whole year. Why? Because the stress, unknowns and turmoil of 2020 has taken its toll on many employees whilst will trickle into next year.
One of the first upheavals employees went through was rapidly changing their working scenario; most taking to their dining table or small box room to create a new home office. Whilst for many this has been a welcome change, others have found the shift from daily face-to-face interaction to virtual check-ins a tough challenge, leaving them feeling slightly disengaged.
Maintaining employee positivity from a distance has also become a challenge for managers this year. Pre-pandemic, bringing treats into the office on a Friday or simply weaving through the office to say hello was an easy way to put a smile on people’s faces. Disrupted working environments has made it harder to have these interactions. Many organisations put in lots of effort at the beginning of lockdown to engage in virtual activities, but it’s important that we continue our efforts to drive positivity in the coming months, as well as over Christmas.
We must also consider the non-work related impacts of the year affecting the mindset of your employees. They are in the midst of a juggling act – avoiding catching the virus, engaging with their colleagues in a virtual world, caring for family and friends, maintaining wellness and self-care, all whilst coping with the requirements of their day-to-day job.
For some, this complexity is made more challenging if family or friends have been impacted by redundancy and furlough, or perhaps they’ve been through a redundancy themselves and have joined your organisation mid-pandemic. All of these complexities make the role of engagement and HR managers even more important as you will become a reliable touchpoint of positivity and stability for your people.
Are you still saying thank you?
Another symptom of virtual working is recognition tends to be forgotten, leading to employees feeling under-valued. High performing teams give each other five times more positive feedback than criticism, according to research from Deloitte. This simple statistic highlights how praising employees not only keeps them engaged but can impact their performance. This way of thinking is nothing new – research from management consulting group Gallup shows that businesses in the top 24% of employee engagement had higher levels of customer loyalty, profitability and revenues.
So how are you measuring engagement? Many organisations that traditionally carried out yearly or bi-annual engagement surveys have increased this frequency during the pandemic. Some of our customers have started distributing quick pulse surveys as regular as every week to various groups of people across their organisation, helping to check-in on their wellbeing and constructive feedback. It’s important that organisations enable employee listening as this is a key pillar of employee engagement. Equally as important is ensuring your people aware of the outcomes of your surveys – both the results and the action plans to take their feedback into consideration. Failing to regularly check-in with your employees could lead to lower satisfaction rates, a drop in motivation and a knock-on impact on performance (and therefore your bottom line).
Recognition is not about making someone feel momentarily better
Recognising your employees is about building a culture. It’s about demonstrating positive examples of recognition in a public forum and encouraging others to do the same. It shouldn’t just be one manager always appreciating the individuals within their team.
Recognition can be top-down, bottom-up and peer-to-peer. Building a culture of recognition involves spreading the idea that it’s acceptable (and welcomed) for people to offer thanks no matter how big or small the contribution is – it’s about the value to that individual. If recognition is an alien concept to your organisation, there is even more reason to inject this type of positivity after the challenging year you’ve had.
It’s lovely to ramp up recognition and engagement over Christmas, but there is already an expected level of engagement over the seasonal period. What’s more important is remembering to carry through that level of engagement to next year, especially as organisations continue to adopt hybrid working models as the pandemic continues.