Employee Engagement - Not limited just to HRs | Aishath Shifaza

Aishath Shifaza:

Hello everyone. My name is Aishath Shifaza, I'm the corporate manager for Samann group of companies in Maldives. So I'd like to thank peopleHum for giving me the opportunities to share my knowledge regarding, especially when it comes to employee engagement during a time like this.  

Q: What are some challenges that you think the HR workforce is facing when it comes to employee engagement, today? And how do you think they can navigate through it?

Aishath Shifaza:

So regarding the employee engagement, I believe it is the time we talk about employee engagement and most of the time when it comes to employee engagement, we talk about, why it is important, how it is impacted, during specially when it comes to COVID. But you know, for me, I wanted to go back to a little while, back and see like how it has, been in the industry for such a long time, especially when it comes to organization like that. Yes, it has definitely COVID 19 has, disrupted the whole organization, employment engagement, the mental health of employees, the employee wellbeing, the engagement of overall employees. However, you know, in a HR perspective, it has really created a lot of opportunities for HR specialists to learn new things about how we can handle such crisis, and how we can really keep, employees engaged throughout the crisis.  

I think, you know, it is really the time that we talk about it, because now it has been a talk of everybody, especially when it comes to organization, when it comes to a time where everything is normalizing after COVID, even though it is not end of it, however, it's just like in Maldive's point of view, it is right now, a bit stable and, we are pretty much in a place where we feel like it is normalizing, and we feel like we are working in a normal working environment now. So, I think it is, having more engaged employees is definitely important for an organization, especially you know, having employees who are very well engaged, who are, you know, motivated to their work. I believe they will also invest their time and their commitment, and they will also work hard and give that extra effort to deliver what has been requested and give the higher quality service to their employers.  

Number of previews are there in the studies and, it has proven that an organization that focus on employee engagement, have double the rate of success, compared to those who doesn't really focus on employee engagement. So if you have employees who are very well engaged, who are very well motivated, they will be more important, work harder, not just for the paycheck, but also for their own success, while disengage employees are likely to be there, you know, the minimum and just to get the job done. So employee engagement need to go beyond and above the paycheck, just then this shiny paycheck or the incentive that we have for them, or the flexible working hours, or, you know, just considering the COVID situation right now, you still need to go and think about it as bit more.  

This was one of the very main topic, that all the organizations have been discussing even prior to pandemic as well. Like for us in our organization. Also, we have been brainstorming like how we can engage employees, what, you know, responsibilities of the department and what are the responsibilities of HR as well, and the management as well. So knowing that the pandemic has actually forced us all to distance ourself, to be less socialized, to be, you know, having these barriers for communication and all, and the time to focus more on how we can really improve, in employee engagement. So engaging employees needs to be discussed and talked, more than ever before. Most of the time you know, companies misinterpret, the core issue of engaging employees, assuming, you know, high salary or high compensation, with  
However it has proven most from different studies and research is that, you know, it is more than just money because there are a lot of, you know, other factors that involve in, employee engagement, especially when it comes to retaining employees when it comes to motivating them. So there are, you know, certain things I personally believe as well, you know, because if I have to put myself in, as a line team member or who has been working for a certain time, and I feel like, you know, the trust that the management that the team members or the organization has, for the employees is one of the very important factor. The relationship that the managers need to have with their employees is also one of the factor or the supports or the line managers, whatever the connection, the relationship that they need to have.  

And the pride that the team members have for the organization is some of the factors that is very important for employee engagement. So out of these three things, like if we consider like trust, the relationship all of these things, if we consider into one thing, the core of employee engagement is all about communication. So if we do not have a proper communication, I do not feel like personally there will be any improvement in employee engagement. Cause if we do not have proper communication, I feel like that will be only failures, not success. So cause having the employees, who feel valued regardless of the job that they are working on, or the portion that they're in employees who feel like that they're more involved in decission making the emotional connection that they have with the employees and creating the pathway for the employees, you know, setting also the expectation that the managers have for them and their expecttions you know, finding this kind of connective environment for them, will definitely help, from both ends.  

So yeah, communication is the key to success and, regardless it is employee engagement or the success of the organization, it is the key. And we really need to consider that right now. And, you know, even though we have been talking about it, even though we know and understand that communication is important, it's time that we go extra mile and see like how we can really communicate through the pandemic and in such crisis period. So looking at these three factors, working on remote spaces, and distancing, and to improve the employee engagement, there are definitely several drivers that I also personally feel like that I need to be, involved in. So as long as the employees feel valued and recognized, they will definitely be engaged. We have been like the norm that we have been following. It's like, know if somebody or an employee does something, we just thank them about that.  

We do appreciate it. And then we give couple boards saying like, you know, keep up the good job, these kinda things, but it may not be enough, especially when right now it is like employees are definitely in a position where they need the employers more than ever before. So recognition of their quality work and encouraging to provide meaningful feedback, contributions, like how the employees are actually contributing and letting them be aware of like how they have been contributing and how it is impacting them, the whole organization and the career opportunities and the development that they have, within the organization will make them feel valued as well. They'll feel like they do have a future within the organization. And yes, we do appreciate most of the time as managers. We do say thank you, and we do appreciate the team members, however, that might not be enough.  

You know, we need to find the best environment, the best timing and how we gonna communicate and appreciate the employees. So yeah, integrated doing the right thing, right moment, finding the right moment to appreciate the employees is also one of the factor that I would also personally, consider. The another thing is that, understanding the employees is, so, you know, especially when I consider are, you know, motives working environment, when it comes to, corporate level and all, you know, peoples are very much now career oriented more than before. Like if they, they do consider their career, they do feel like they do have, well, they wanted to do something, for their career development as well. So you know, we do understand, you know, promotions, increments might not be a thing at this point of time.  

Because we all know that the economy is down the, like most of the organization is going through financial crisis and all. We knowing all these things, we still feel like, you know, I do person believe there are a lot of other things that as managers we can do. So some of the things that I personally believe is that you know, making them feel valued, that's one of the very important things. You know, ensuring that they do have certain opportunities within the management within the organization, letting them know that they are in the right hand, by, you know, carrying them and making them understand that we care for them as well. So there are lot of, you know, prepared level of involvement that they need to be in specially when it comes to line team members, because, you know, when it comes to management, they tend to project most of the track line team members.  

We tend to, you know, when it comes to change management and they should make him, we do not consider line members and they should make it. But I do personally believe, you know, sometimes they will think outside the box, sometimes they will know like what is happening in the field rather than the management, you know, things strategically they will understand and know how and like how that could improve the whole service and the production that we have. So, you know, considering their thoughts, at least listening to them will definitely help. The other thing is about the clear communication and the leaders expectation because I also feel like, you know, there has to be proper communication. The expectation needs to be shared, the objective needs to be shared and if the management or the line managers or supervisors give the proper direction and expectation to employees and let them know these are the major objectives or the departments and the individual job descriptions that will definitely help the employees to reach to another level, because they'll understand that, you know, they do have, some kind of career path.  

They do have similar vision, sharing goals and they will be able to reach up to next level because they will not only consider that as a job if they do that, that will also consider part of their own success, their own goal, their own job to do. It's not like a job that they wanna do, but they wanted to, you know, do it for themselves, not just for the company. Cause if it is our own vision, definitely we'll always success in it'll do every, everything that in our that's in our power to rate it, it's just human nature. So to do that, I think if we do, if we, as employers share the objectives with the employees expectation and have similar reason and goals that definitely will help the employees. The, another thing is about the change management the clarity of the direction because we all like, you know, employees are very much uncertain about their job.  

They're very uncertain about the situation like most of the managers, most of the organizations when initially COVID hit were not certain about what's happen next. And we still do not know how we do have some confidence, like where it is taking us and how it's gonna impact the company in the longer run. So knowing all these things, I feel like, you know, having, again, you know, ensuring that the employees are very valuable of any kind of changes that is a within their organizations within their job, when it comes to minor things as well, because working in a remote basis, not knowing what's actually happening in the organization might be real scary for employees. They might not be certain, they might not be confident in themselves also.

And, if they do have the is communication in a way that they do understand, what is happening, especially when it comes to organization, changes when it comes to change management, like any certain changes on the policies and procedures, any changes to one department and another department like into departmental changes. If the employees are you know, involved in these kind of communications, I feel like that they will be more confident in themselves.  

They'll also feel like the management that the company is going into right direction. So in such case, again, you know, we are talking about the communication, so it's all about communication, change management, whatever changes that's happening within the management, within the organization, within their job, any kind of, changes that the management is gonna bring, getting their feedback, employee's feedback, their point of view doing the, you know, mini service, getting some meetings done and getting their feedback prior to implementation of such changes, make them feel like, you know, they're also comfortable and, you know, we have to, follow the step by step process of change management. If that is the case, definitely the employees will feel more confident on the whole situation in the scenario as well. Then what I have mentioned was clarity of direction, because as I mentioned, you know, financially unstable organization is like, it is not going into right direction.  

Most of the company, it wasn't now definitely it's much better in situation wise. So in such case, I feel like, you know, letting the employees knows what what's happening and what is the future direction of the organization would definitely help their employees. And that will make them more confident and they'll feel secured in their job role. Yeah, those are few things that I feel like it is very important when it comes to employee engagement. In a summary, you know, I feel like, having the proper communication, letting the team know what is happening with the organization, what is the future, direction of the organization, setting clear objectives, clear expectations, and, you know, properly communicating to the employees.

Not only considering the paycheck definitely will, assist in such timing. And most of the time, you know, we all are considering, it is all about HR for engagement is all about HR, it's HR responsibility, but, you know, rather than finger pointing to departments and HR, I think it's time we take the initiative, to deal with the employees in the right manner and the right timing and you know, feel emotionally connected to employees will definitely help us in any crisis that will, you know, keep us ready and prepare for any future crisis that might happen as well.

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