7 actionable tips for employee engagement during tough times

Organisational change efforts have a startling failure rate of 70 percent, and one major reason for this failure is that executives don’t do what it takes to get buy-in from their employees. An Aon Hewitt study found that the number of actively disengaged employees rose by more than 50 percent during situations where job duties were impacted by their company being acquired. Their research found that even employees whose jobs were not affected by an acquisition were 25 percent more likely to be actively disengaged.

Below are seven actionable tips for strengthening your employee retention during periods of organisational change.

1. Strengthen Employee Engagement Ahead of Time

Any changes you make will meet with greater success if you already have a strong work culture of employee engagement in place. Winning trust is much harder if you wait to address employee alignment until you’re already in the midst of restructuring, especially if you’re reducing your workforce at the same time.

2. Buy-In Starts at the Top

To set the scene for launching organisational change, your leadership has to be 100 percent on board. They will have the responsibility for being role models and for entering positively into a conversation with employees about how the upcoming changes will improve the company’s future.

3. Name a Core Team of Change Agents

Naming a core team of people from various levels of the company who will take personal responsibility for executing the change is also a great way to propagate full communication and buy-in throughout the organisation.

4. Integrate Employee Feedback Into Your Company Culture

When employees can see that their feedback is desired and that you act on the basis of what they tell you, they’ll trust that their voices will continue to be heard as changes occur. Survey results can also serve as a useful benchmark for the milestones of your restructuring strategy.

5. Communicate Clearly and Consistently

Telling a compelling “change story” can have the effect of keeping workers involved during the sensitive time following the initial restructuring. An effective communication channel can help your organisation avoid becoming one of the negative statistics: Aon Hewitt’s research found that in a typical company, the percentage of highly engaged employees did not rise back up to baseline levels for two to three years following a merger or acquisition.

6. Support Your Managers

Managers have to adjust to changes too, but they are simultaneously on the front lines of supporting their direct reports through what may be difficult times. It’s important to remember that great leaders become invested in employee motivation; if a supervisor is put in the position of having to let people go, it’s essential to also give that manager the tools to provide remaining employees with incentives through a reward and recognition programme.

7. Keep Motivation High With Rewards and Recognition

In Achievers’ 2018 report, 60% of companies said they plan to increase their investment in social recognition technology. Furthermore, companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on employee engagement. Providing frequent recognition and rewards is a way of letting people know that you appreciate them.

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Change is inevitable in today’s business world, so it’s a question of “when” rather than “if.” Best practices for change management stipulate that you need to keep employees engaged throughout periods of intense change if you’re going to stay agile and productive over the life of the company.

Learn more about how you can boost employee engagement by downloading our report, “Building a Business Case for Social Recognition.”