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Employee Engagement is Crucial

The words may have changed but the business relevance is the same, if not more important than ever.

Traditionally it was referred to as “company spirit” to motivate, inspire and create a feeling of teamwork. In the contemporary workplace, particularly with the recent speed bumps in many Calgary businesses, morale and employee engagement has never been more crucial.

“Whether in tough economic conditions, looking at remote workforces or any other business environment, employee engagement doesn’t change – yesterday, today or into the future,” says Vince Danielsen, an EO Calgary member who is president and CEO of INLIV and WELLO – innovative Calgary organizations that deliver premium corporate, executive, personal and family health services.

“To attract, develop and retain team members, employee engagement must be top-of-mind with every interaction. If we want to remain relevant and competitive, our organization has to be true to our values and hire people who believe in those values. How we treat our people will be a direct reflection on how our people treat our customers.”

The positive sentiments are echoed by Jodena Rogers, vice president of corporate services at Emerald Management & Realty and an EO Calgary member. “Engagement and retention is key for employers, especially during a downturn. It can be tempting to set aside strategic priorities and focus on business survival, but it is more important than ever to communicate with team members about the current climate and the challenges impacting the workplace.

“An integral part of employee engagement in a tough market is to have honest, respectful conversations and empower employees to focus on opportunity. It creates job satisfaction, engages them to be part of the solution and provides a sense of inclusion.”

For dynamic Bill Scott, co-founder of ReSourceYYC (the collaborative coworking office space for entrepreneurial Calgary professionals) and an EO Calgary member, “Employees have been through a lot in the last few years and engagement may be suffering, wondering if jobs are still at risk. Stressful environments wreak havoc on morale and productivity.

“But now is the time to build loyalty and increase employee engagement by asking employees to participate in strategy sessions, being part of more frequent team meetings and activities, and scheduling one-on-one meetings with senior management.” Most business leaders agree: sometimes employee engagement is easier said than done.

“Hire people who fit your core values and test them in the interview process. It’s much easier to engage employees when starting with the same foundation,” Danielsen suggests. “Each interaction with an employee is an experience, and that experience directly correlates with their engagement.”

“Be honest and transparent,” Scott cautions. “If times are tough, don’t sugar-coat it and don’t try to hide the obvious. Employees can feel when management is hiding something. Confront the facts head-on, and avoid injecting emotion into the situation. Ask employees to participate in brainstorming and problemsolving sessions. Have a plan! Even if it’s short term, employees need to feel that the company has direction and the next steps.”

Rogers emphasizes communication efforts with frequent checkins, a genuine open-door policy, team meetings and treating employees like partners. “Especially during difficult economic times, it’s more important than ever.

“Sharing the company vision and plan gives purpose and will go a long way to retaining employees when the good times return,” Scott adds with positivity.

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