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3 steps to improve employee engagement after COVID-19

September 22, 2021

I’m not going to repeat the compelling statistics on how employee engagement impacts absenteeism, retention, productivity and overall business performance. 

We know that engaged employees produce better results, but maintaining engagement levels is extremely challenging amidst job uncertainty and change.

The prospect of returning to ‘normal’ can increase the engagement of some employees, and reduce the engagement of others. You can’t go back to how things were when the DNA of your company has changed forever. 

If engaged employees is the result you’re after, employee experience is how to get there.

Employee Experience during and after COVID-19

Employee Experience: designing an employee’s perception of their workplace to maximise engagement. 

It can be helpful to think of employee experience as four distinct (although overlapping) areas: physical environment, team culture, technology and wellbeing. 

Across all four areas, we’ve seen 10 years worth of change in about 10 weeks. These radical changes are taking their toll on employee experience, much to the dismay of those who have worked hard over the years to create a work environment where people want to show up, not just where they need to show up.

Here is our three step guide to get you on the right track for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Step 1. Ask the right questions

According to research by McKinsey, 80% of employees enjoy working from home and 41% say that they are more productive. We need to understand who is thriving under the current work conditions and who is fatigued. Whose productivity is soaring and whose is dwindling. Who has the support they need from their managers and who doesn’t. 

Your existing data can’t help you with the decisions you’re facing right now — unprecedented times call for new data.

At Saberr we have developed a free survey to help you understand employees' needs, including:

  • Physical work environment at home
  • Communication and support network 
  • Physical and mental wellbeing
  • Work preferences and concerns about the future

Read our back to work survey or readiness to return to work survey questions below:

Step 2. Dig into the results

Survey data is often used to identify general trends or to draw sweeping conclusions, but now is not a time for painting with broad brush strokes.

Every employee is experiencing this year differently. A couple of examples to consider:

  • How do those living with vulnerable people feel about returning to the office?
  • Some employees have been furloughed for months. How do they feel about rejoining their teams? 
  • How about a new parent, for whom COVID-19 coincided with a huge personal change?

This is a time to treat individual circumstances as individually as you can — whether you’re a tiny start-up or a global enterprise…

Case study: Medium-sized global enterprise

One of our clients used the survey results to prioritise reopening one of their 23 offices: “Several of our Belgian employees were unable to work effectively from home, so we reopened our Ghent offices last week for them. This wouldn’t have been possible without the data from the survey”. 

Case study: Small startup (us at Saberr)

Last month my boss personally delivered a spare screen and office chair for my partner to use, after I’d mentioned in my survey responses that I occasionally shared my work station with him.

Two very different examples but they send the same message: Your employer wants you to be as happy and effective as is realistically possible. And that’s pretty engaging. 

If the size of your organisation or your division won’t allow you to personally drill into this level of detail, make sure someone else does. Share survey results with team leads who can act on it.


Download Saberr's free Readiness to Return to Work survey. The right questions to asses how your workforce feels about new working arrangements.

Step 3. Take action 

The survey results will allow you to make informed decisions across four key areas of employee experience: 

  • Physical space
  • Technology
  • Team culture
  • Wellbeing

Next: Step 3. Take Action (continue reading)

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