Thomas Husson, VP, Principal Analyst and David Johnson, Principal Analyst

Show Notes:

From concerns about burnout and isolation to virtual happy hours and team-building events, the pandemic flipped traditional employee engagement on its head. And now, as more organizations prepare to bring employees back into the office, leaders have some decisions to make. In this episode, Vice President and Principal Analyst Thomas Husson and Principal Analyst David Johnson discuss the lessons learned about employee engagement and what the future may hold.

To begin the episode, the analysts discuss how the pandemic increased the average employee’s engagement, as most people become more focused during a crisis. “The crisis led to workers thinking more about why they work,” says Husson. “And this notion of meaning has increased significantly,” driving engagement even further. Also, the remote work environment provided many workers the autonomy they sought and provided fewer office-based distractions.

But at the same time, concerns of employee burnout and discussion of employees’ mental health became more prevalent during the pandemic. Employees in a remote environment can at times feel like their professional and personal lives are blurring, which can bring more fatigue and burnout. Also, Johnson points out that in a remote working environment, there is a higher risk of employees feeling isolated and unnoticed, which is one of the top predictors of employee burnout.

“Our guidance to clients [during the pandemic] has been to really ramp up the recognition, ramp up the manager one-on-ones, and make sure people feel like they’re contributing in meaningful ways,” says Johnson.

The latter part of the episode focuses on how to apply some of the lessons learned during the pandemic going forward. Husson and Johnson provide examples of firms that have trained managers to better understand the factors that contribute to burnout and what tools can be used to counter them. At the organizational level, Johnson emphasizes that understanding your employees’ situations and preferences is key to designing a strategy that works for everyone. And the best way to do that? Survey your employees with detailed questions and follow-ups.

And be sure not to miss Johnson’s response to the recent comments made by WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani about engagement of remote employees.