Employee engagement goes beyond seeing happy, smiling faces and enthusiasm at meetings.

We cannot measure it simply through metrics and statistics on absenteeism, retention, and turnover.

Rather, increasing employee engagement means we create a sense of purpose, commitment, and involvement.

A recent Gallup report on employee engagement in 2023 shows 33% percent of full- and part-time workers in the United States reported they felt engaged.

Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace report, involving 180 million employees in 142 countries, showed just 13% of employees globally feel engaged at work.

All of this is just day-to-day.

So employee engagement becomes even more critical when we layer on disruptive change initiatives.

If people are to thrive in the face of change, change leaders must engage them when the transition is in full swing.

The Importance of Employee Engagement in Change Initiatives

Before exploring best practices, we must first identify why employee engagement is so important when dealing with change efforts.

Engaged employees are

  • more likely to embrace change,
  • adapt quickly to new processes or technologies, and
  • contribute innovative ideas to drive the transformation forward.

In addition, employees who are highly engaged experienced significantly fewer negative effects of change-related stress or anxiety.

Best Practices for Engaging Employees in Change Initiatives

  1. Open and Honest Communication. When push comes to shove, it’s all about communication and visibility. Communicate and do so visibly, especially about the rationale for the change, what the change might mean for your people, and what success looks like.
  2. Empowerment and Involvement. Ask employees how they want to be involved in the change effort, or ask for their ideas and suggestions. Empower them to be accountable for components of the change. This can mean leading project teams, serving on committees that make decisions, or being champions to work with others to implement new practices. These are fairly new practices in change management taken from the Total Quality Management (TQM) era.  Bringing the stakeholder into the day-to-day program activities makes a program more successful. And, as you know, the more employees feel valued and involved in the change effort, the more they’ll be supportive of it.
  3. Training and Development. Train the staff on new changes to help them cope with it. Consider asynchronous training sessions, workshops, microlearning, and other resources to help explain why change occurs. Help employees acquire the requisite new skills or competencies to cope effectively. This can boost employees’ confidence and morale by developing their competencies. Conducting virtual events to directly teach about the personal and emotional sides of change inherently supports individuals impacted by the change. It isn’t always about conceptually selling the value of change management, it is about supporting the stakeholder’s journey individually. too.
  4. Acknowledgement and Rewards. Celebrate the behaviors and attitudes you wish to see, from stakeholder who demonstrate commitment and resilience in the face of change. This can involve formal stakeholder recognition such as accolades or rewards (including even bonuses). It can also be as easy as saying thank you to employees in a public way. For example, sending a letter from the CEO specifically acknowledging individuals for specific work. This is a very powerful technique and people begin to look forward to a regular cadence of this type of acknowledgement. Build it into your change management strategy and plan.
  5. Feedback Mechanisms. Create feedback mechanisms for employees to express concerns and suggestions, and to share their emotions freely. Survey them and ask them in focus groups or one-on-one. Capture their thoughts on the change initiative at every opportunity. Accept feedback and learn how your change initiative could be derailed or made better. Use new technologies to gather feedback to engage all generations in the work.

Leveraging Technology to Enhance Employee Engagement in Change Initiatives

With more and more pressure being put on technology to support employee engagement and drive organizational change management efforts, we must prioritize technology.

New technologies and platforms that are available to help leaders enhance communication, collaboration, and employee engagement when undergoing change:

  • Employee Engagement Platforms enable employees to communicate, collaborate, and gather opinions. Services such as Culture Amp, CultureMonkey. and Workhuman can assist your company in planning, measuring, collecting, and tracking employee engagement score and feedback sentiment over time.
  • Online Learning Platforms (OLP) such as Udemy for Business and LinkedIn Learning provide access to thousands of online programs for employees during change initiatives. This provides the opportunity for employees to learn at their own pace, and/or pick up new skills or refresher courses necessary to meet changing needs.
  • Collaboration Tools like Slack (which we use at Change Management Review) and Microsoft Teams promote real-time communication and collaboration among employees across the organization, from any time zone and department. Project management becomes easier, employees can collaborate cross-functionally, and transparency throughout the change process is enhanced.

In conclusion, creating employee engagement in change initiatives is not merely about superficial appearances or numerical metrics.

Rather, it’s about fostering a deep sense of purpose, commitment, and involvement among employees.

With greater employee engagement around change initiatives, we are not only more likely to succeed.

We are also more likely to foster a work culture where employees feel valued, empowered, and engaged to help transform the organization.

Also, today’s  environment full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) requires that change facilitators humanize technology through employee engagement.

Whether through dedicated employee engagement platforms, digital learning tools, or collaboration platforms, technology offers innovative solutions to enhance communication, collaboration, and involvement.

Join us for our upcoming ChangeTech Rising™ Conference and discover how different types of technology can improve the way you perform your work.

If your organization is in the process of researching the best change management technology, then this event is for you.

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