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Creating Space for Connections and Reflection to Increase Employee Engagement

By Diana Ng, Sr Director, Global People & Organization Development,Tapestry

Diana Ng, Sr Director, Global People & Organization Development,Tapestry

As organizations continue to look for efficiencies and leverage technology, they task their people to do more work with fewer resources. People are connected 24/7, dealing with constant change, and often struggle with competing priorities in work and life. Stress levels are impacting well-being and engagement in the workplace.

In our global employee engagement survey results last year, we saw a trend that employees who indicated they are able to manage their stress scored higher on willingness to recommend the company as a good place to work and higher on intent to stay when compared with those who gave a neutral or negative response to manage stress.  At the same time, employees across the organization indicated a desire for greater responsibility. The challenge is how to support their development in a way that enables them to more effectively manage stress and energy, instead of adding to it.

"Enabling employees to manage what’s in their control and acknowledge what’s out of their control, can help reduce anxiety"

During many of our learning workshops, inevitably, colleagues will raise the following feelings:

•  There’s no time, everything is urgent
•  Leaders and managers might not be consistently role modeling our values and competencies
•  The organization has too many priorities

People tend to ruminate on external factors and elements that might be out of their control, which can create a sense of helplessness. They often assume things will take a lot of time and feel that their challenges are unique.

Enabling employees to manage what’s in their control and acknowledge what’s out of their control, can help reduce anxiety. Allowing the employees to connect with others, may also reduce stress. The act of reflecting on their own experiences, sharing and brainstorming with others, enables them to see other possibilities and feel less alone.

We tackle engagement on multiple levels:

•  Improving the infrastructure to support development. This includes modernizing and scaling technology and processes to better support the business.
•  Developing our leaders to role model our values, drive accountability and coach for success at all levels.
•  Evolving our people development programs to support our organization’s values and purpose – with a focus on making the solutions practical and applicable to our groups.
•  Modernizing development program delivery to make learning more bite-sized and accessible. This includes tactics like chunking learning programs into short sessions and delivering in various methods (in-person, virtually facilitated, on-demand recordings).
•  Piloting ideas to build community including things like an external speaker series hosted by our CEO, inclusion and diversity discussions, recognition programs, mindful mediations, and many more.

Employee engagement is nuanced and everyone in the organization plays a role. Even as we challenge the assumption that people development takes a lot of time, we also have to acknowledge that behavior change does take time.

What’s in our control is to help our people make space for reflection (see the possibilities), provide resources and support to enable them to make progress and practice, and develop leaders at all levels. We can proactively design the employee experience, rather than unconsciously drift into one. With limited resources, organizations need to assess where the biggest needs are and invest in solutions that will have the greatest scalable impact.

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