Are you engaging your “deskless” employees?

Wednesday March 24, 2021

Due to being unable to work from home, many deskless employees (that is, those not normally based at a desk) have either continued working throughout the pandemic or been laid off.

As pressure mounts for a timeline to reopen the retail and hospitality industries, these employees may also be returning to work sooner than their office-based colleagues.

Many deskless roles make up the front line of a business. Customer service can often start and end with these employees and they carry great responsibility in leaving a good lasting impression.

It is therefore beneficial to the business if these employees are engaged and committed to the work that they are doing.

Research has shown, however that some employee engagement strategies fall short in this department, suggesting that work can be done to engage each and every employee.

What is employee engagement?

Often confused with employee satisfaction, although the two may be intertwined, employee engagement looks more at an employee’s willingness to work well, often to the benefit of the wider business.

An example of a highly engaged employee may show them going the extra mile, even if there was no obvious or direct personal gain involved. Perhaps they work overtime without being asked or volunteer for the jobs that others might groan at.

When the going gets tough, as it no doubt did in the past year, highly engaged employees often adopt a resilient “can do” attitude, making them great team members and future leaders.

Engagement is typically high with a new employee, as they do their best to show that they are the right person for the job. However, this can decrease over time and so an employee engagement strategy can help keep employees engaged in the long run.

How to increase employee engagement

Even the naturally upbeat and engaged employee would start to wane eventually if their working situation or environment was less than desirable. Therefore, it’s in an employer’s best interest to set the scene for good employees to flourish.

Times have changed and what may have worked to engage employees pre-pandemic might no longer have the same impact. Workers on the front line are going to need specific care and support to help them succeed so that they can in turn help the business.

This may look different from one company to the next, but a good engagement strategy in 2021 should consider:

Communication – Are employees kept well informed and up to date? Are they able to share their views, concerns, and feedback with ease?

Trust – Will their concerns be addressed? Working well during the pandemic requires a high level of trust. Employees must trust that they are not only treated fairly but also kept safe and protected from harm. Your actions and approach to creating a COVID-secure workplace will be of great importance here.

This has been a trying time for both physical and mental health and so staff will also need to be able to trust and approach management to seek help when they need it.

Opportunities to grow – Can employees improve and build on skills in your business? Do they have a clear line of progression to see themselves working for you in five or even ten years’ time?

Sense of belonging – Engaged employees want to come to work, and not just for the pay, but because they feel like they belong. An inclusive and supportive culture is crucial for good work and happiness to thrive.

Getting good engagement in your business

A template for employee engagement can get you started, but there’s nothing like having a conversation with someone who really takes the time to understand your business and what it needs.

Whether you’re looking to review, upgrade or tailor an employee engagement strategy, or need advice on managing a disengaged employee when you feel you’ve tried everything else, we can help.

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