Image for post
Image for post
Image by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

It’s Time to Rethink Employee Engagement for Work From Home (WFH)

Maybe it’s not so important…

Perhaps employee engagement — the holy grail for a winning corporate culture the last 15 years — is not so important for the recent new wave of employees who have been pushed into performing their jobs from home. I know — it sounds like heresy. It might even sound counter intuitive.

Then, How Could Engagement Be “Unimportant,” Especially During This Pandemic Pandemonium?

It would seem that in these pivotal times, with unprecedented changes to our work lives and personal lives, engagement would be more important than ever to give meaning to what we do. To help us maintain focus, alignment, energy. Right?

Why Satisfaction Might Be More Important For WFH

Here is the distinction and why it’s important during the pandemically-induced WFH reality.

  • Safety (security; safety; security)
  • Love/Belonging (friendship; family; intimacy)
  • Esteem (confidence; achievement; respect from others)
  • Self-Actualization (need for development; creativity; becoming the best you can be).
Image for post
Image for post
Image by Simply Psychology

Now On Employees’ Radar Screens

For many employees, they can no longer take for granted any aspects of the pre-pandemic “old normal.” There are new and sometimes distressing objects on their radar screen:

  • “I’ve got to be on the phone taking customer calls for the next 4 hours and my kids are doing learning from home in the next room and they’re loud and not paying attention to their poorly administered lessons. It’s so hard to concentrate on what these customers are asking about. I often feel I’m not doing my job as well as I did before.”
  • “Lots of people say they like the WFH model but for me it seems I never leave my house. Work and home life overlap so much — I sometimes feel like I have cabin fever. Combined with my state’s social interaction guidelines and restrictions, I’m turning into a recluse.”
  • “We’ve downsized again and I’m feeling stretched and stressed. Three of us are doing at home the work that five used to do at the office.”
  • “Two of the people at church I was talking with last week have tested positive. And I don’t feel well today. Should I get tested or am I just being psychosomatic? My worrying about it is getting in the way of my prep for tomorrow’s Zoom meeting…”
  • “I really don’t understand this new product change the company implemented last week and my boss can’t sit across the table from me to walk me through it and train me properly. And I’m supposed to be explaining it to customers as part of the product virtual support team.”
  • “I’m an introvert and I’m happy that my job has switched to WFH. I like my teammates and customers but I don’t need the close social touchpoints that others enjoy. My overall needs are better met in this new working arrangement.”
  • “I’m very close to some of my teammates and I miss being able to talk things out with them both work-related and personal stuff. I know how to use this video technology but it’s just not the same…”

Mike Hoban is a West Michigan-based leadership coach and advisor who also writes about business topics.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store