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Rethinking Employee Engagement and Leadership in the New World of Work

The Employee Engagement strategy is now a group business priority and no longer nice to have for organizations or left to the HR teams.


Jul 02, 2021

What is Employee Engagement Anyway ? 

“The emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” Kevin Kruse, Forbes Contributor and NY Times Best Selling Author


New World of Work 

Organizational Cultural challenges have been magnified now that workplaces have been forced to adopt change at an accelerated pace brought on by Covid 19. One of the obvious challenges is the sudden adoption of remote working. What may have been a minor HR challenge becomes much harder to detect or manage in a remote working environment. This is especially true when HR leaders and team managers are already over stretched. People management is now a priority across organizations. 

A Gartner survey of 214 HR leaders in April 2020 found that 64% were prioritizing employee experience more highly than before the coronavirus outbreak. Communication is the vital cog for organisations as they navigate the challenges of remote working, culture protection, and potential return to work.  Employee Engagement strategy is now a group business priority and no longer a nice to have for organisations or left to the HR teams.  It is imperative for organisations to have a continuous strategy of listening to their employees and gathering their feedback in such a rapidly changing environment. 


How Do You Thrive in an Environment of Constant change? 

We know that enlightened Leaders put people at the heart of everything they do. However it is harder than it has ever been to be the enlightened leader in today's workplace. We understand ! We know it sounds corny but it really is a journey.  

To do lists and calendars have never been fuller. Zoom call after Zoom call is creating a huge burnout challenge for organisations - notably the burden falling most heavily on the people leaders and middle management within these organisations. This is all intermingled with increased market pressures where organisations are facing a wave of accelerated challenges. On top of this middle management have the added complexity of leading remote teams. In this context what will recovery look like and what are the leadership skills needed to thrive in this environment? We outline below some simple strategies but let's look at some of the universal challenges facing leaders today.


Universal Challenges for the Middle Manager 

In order to understand the pain points in more detail HappyTeams collaborated in Q4 2020 with Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin’s innovation team in Tangent. The goal was to look at specific pain points that exist for leaders of different types of organisation, with a  specific remit of understanding the impact of Covid-19 on employee engagement.  

We want to share some of the insights from this research as well as the insight we are seeing from our experiences and respondents on the HappyTeams Platform. 


Some of the highlighted Pain Points

identified pain points for employees

Source : “Mod1 Project DUB2 HappyTeams” (John Gunning, Linda Waters, Neil Shirt, Sofia Sijilmassi, and Shane Ormsby),  Trinity College Dublin, Tangent , December 11th 2020.


Budgetary restrictions when it came to supporting employee engagement initiatives was emphasised by all respondent  interviewees during the research.

Key decision making / Recognition :

The importance of the line manager in the decision-making process. The employee experience is made up by many stakeholders across the organisation. 

 Company culture:

The importance of differing company and country culture plays when it comes to prioritising employee engagement initiatives.

The above snippet of pain points and the research that the Tangent Trinity groups conducted on behalf of HappyTeams in Q4 2020 served to reinforce the complexity of the employee engagement challenge and the universal pain points leaders are facing. It is reinforced by the data we are seeing on the HappyTeams platform. 


45% - Do you feel connected to the rest of the company * 

49% - Does somebody in work regularly check in our your career goals * 

* HappyTeams Platform Data 


Building a Listening Strategy and Strengthening Your Culture 

A good communicator is a good listener. It may sound an oversimplification but harnessing the voice of the employee starts with creating a habit within your organisation of asking questions.  Simon Sinek,  the brilliant leadership guru outlines that “Listening is not understanding the words of the question asked, listening is understanding why the question was asked in the first place.”  Fostering this habit of listening will unlock the data needed to keep a pulse on the sentiment of employees.


Simple Steps 

  • Keep a Pulse on Employee Sentiment. Start asking questions - build a simple and repeatable listening culture within your organisation. 
  • Nurture a growth mindset among your team. This is something that is fostered over time - the language around challenges or problems can be framed in a positive manner.  

“ In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening.” Dr Carol Dweck 

  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Utilize technology like Slack and MS Teams to ensure collaboration is happening across teams. On top of regular team huddles, weekly meetings and informal catch ups try to build in some informal catch ups between team members.  With key messages - ensure this over communicated. Do not underestimate how messages are lost in translation in the remote world. 


Final Thoughts 

We repeatedly do. This is very pertinent when it comes to Culture. If your employees feel listened to and they have a voice - it will act as a catalyst for transforming your culture and ultimately making more resilient businesses in the new world of work. 

Learn more how HappyTeams Platform platform can help you build a listening culture in your business today. 

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