The recent shift to remote working by organizations trying to protect employees from the Corona Virus has increased the use of digital communications. The question remains how do we keep engagement high and relationships real in distributed teams.
What is the Impact of Employee Engagement?
When researching Employee Engagement, one finds masses of statistics showing its impact on business. Some of the general findings show that engaged individuals deliver the following:
1. Improved customer service – this drives sales and profits.
- Increased quality – this creates satisfied customers who are also more open to price increases, this increases profits.
- Improved safety records – This makes for happier employees, as they don’t suffer injury due to negligence. It also means that employees have more time and energy to building the rest of the business. Decreased safety incidents also save the company money from a risk perspective.
- Better collaboration and teamwork as employee retention is higher and therefore teams have time to build deep and trusting relationships.
What is Employee Engagement Really?
The site CustomInsight defines employee engagement as “the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.” Therefore engaged individuals feel:
a. free to be openly passionate about their jobs,
b. that they belong within the team, project, and organization, and;
c. that they want to “go the extra mile” to ensure the success of the company, team, and project. (Note here that although they too want to succeed, their primary goal is the success of the team because they know the team will honor the employee’s role in the success.)
For this to happen they must feel that they belong and that they are respected. That makes sense but let’s look at why those particular factors are so important.
How Does this Relate to Levels of Motivation?
In the 1940s Abraham Maslow studied human motivation and proposed his Hierarchy of Needs. In this system, we find Belonging, Esteem and Self-Actualization in the hierarchy. When individuals have achieved a sense of Belonging in the team (Level 3) and the team has shown appreciation for their contribution (Level 4) their Esteem needs are met. Only when those two levels have been achieved can someone start to Self-actualize (Level 5). At the Self-actualization level, we see people achieving greatness because they are functioning to their full potential.
What is Considered a Real Connection?
The important point here is that the only way for someone to feel accepted, appreciated and supported is for them to be their authentic self without fearing discrimination. This is the basis of real human connection. This is when we really “get” someone, not just know them and how many family members they have. Instead, we connect with their challenges, their passions, and their concerns. Therefore, for people to really perform optimally, and be most productive, they need an environment where they can be appreciated for their real selves and be as strongly connected to others. It takes real empathy and caring to get a relationship to this level.
The rapid switch we are seeing to digital channels should not be undertaken without acknowledgment that we need to keep things real. That teams will bond around their attachments, not their commitments, and therefore we have to keep the real contact alive.
If you would like assistance creating the human connection with your remote team look at our online training or reach out to us on +27 (0) 82 550 8867.