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New Role of Managers to Amplify Modern Day Workforce Engagement

Jun 21, 2024

A distinguished panel of industry luminaries shared cutting-edge leadership and managerial strategies to elevate employee engagement in 2024 and beyond.

The world of work is witnessing tremendous disruption. According to Gallup Global Workplace Study, employee engagement has slumped to a new low (21%), failing to return to pre-pandemic levels. BI WORLDWIDE’s ‘New Rules of Engagement’ research points out that only 56% of employees are enabled by their employers to lead a healthy lifestyle. Clearly, the setbacks of the past few years have given rise to a new wave of disengaged workforce, lacking opportunities to learn, grow, feel connected to organisation’s mission and make meaningful contributions.

Leaders & Managers: New Changemakers in Resetting Employee Engagement

As the frontline link between organisations and employees, modern-day managers can play a pivotal role in revitalising engagement masterplans. They establish goals, delegate responsibilities, provide guidance, track feedback and recognise team members, setting the tone for elevating employee experience.

BI WORLDWIDE, a global leader and India’s foremost in delivering tech-enabled, behavioural science-led employee engagement solutions, in association with SHRM, hosted an exclusive webinar – Elevate Employee Experience (EX), Episode 3: ‘New Role of Managers to Amplify Modern Day Workforce Engagement’. The session brought together industry stalwarts to discuss how managers are at the forefront of transforming workplaces into inspiring and inclusive environments where everyone thrives.

Christina Fortier, Senior Communication Director, BI WORLDWIDE, expertly led the conversation, sharing immersive insights from BI WORLDWIDE’s ‘New Rules of Engagement’ global research. The study shines light on the foundation of a great company culture – leadership, purpose, belonging and recognition.

Shifting Gears of Engagement with Inclusive Leaders & Managers

Employees who are connected to their managers are 5.7X more likely to feel inspired at work. 

Inclusive managers have a compelling vision for future, encourage innovative ideas and empower team members to build their career. They are trustworthy, eliminate bias and support team members’ interests in critical decisions. They also drive ongoing learning & development, foster employee wellbeing and maintain an open culture for team members to share their concerns. But how can inclusive leaders boost engagement?

Inspiring with Impactful Recognition

Recognition helps nurture an inspiring work culture, where accomplishments and milestones are celebrated for all. The industry experts delved into how managers can transform everyday recognition into a tech-powered, real-time, personalised and inclusive practice, making a lasting impact.

Underscoring the hallmarks of a differentiated R&R strategy, Rajat Sethi, Head Total Rewards, Employee Retentions & Talent Management, Daimler Trucks, stated, “A future-focused recognition program must empower managers to cater to generational, gender & cultural diversity, offer standardised as well as personalised rewards, celebrate small & big wins, enable peer-to-peer & managerial recognition and appreciate outperformers on a weekly/monthly basis.”

Christina Fortier affirmed the power of technology in fostering a culture of recognition, “New role of managers has to be made their second nature. Next-gen tech tools with features like nudges, automated notes, peer-to-peer/team recognitions and more, can enable managers to make recognition intuitive and frequent.”

Similarly, Sanjeeva Maithani, Head - HRSS, Mobility, HR Tech, Performance & Rewards, Zensar Technologies, reinforced the need for managers to recalibrate their approach to recognition in the hybrid work era, “In today’s dynamic work landscape, innovative recognition tech solutions can merely help managers extend their outreach. However, it is 1:1 personalised managerial recognition that will be key in driving personal and business growth in a hybrid work model.”

Elevating Results by Connecting to Purpose

Managers must focus on connecting employees to the larger organisational mission and purpose, making them key contributors in driving business results that matter. Connecting workforce to the bigger picture and telling them they make a real difference boosts inspiration by 19%.

Rajat Sethi put it brilliantly, “Managers must articulate the overarching mission and vision of their organisation, focusing on the larger contributions it makes to the world. Connecting employees to this purpose will make them realise the value of their endeavours in the bigger scheme of things, driving ownership of responsibilities. Leaders can also spotlight exemplary success stories and recognise extra milers embodying organisational values to drive desirable behaviours.”

Retaining Talent with Onboarding

Onboarding best practices drastically reduce intent to leave by 54%.

The 3 crucial considerations for a compelling onboarding are: connection, consistency and community. Connection with new hires must begin with decision day and strengthened over time. Consistency is all about building multiple checkpoints, connection opportunities and providing frequent recognition. Community is getting new hires to stay by having managers, team members and employee resource groups to nurture a sense of belonging.

Christina Fortier highlighted strategies instrumental in delivering a seamless onboarding experience:

  • Curating engaging pre-joining communications
  • Planning managerial, team and role inductions
  • Acquainting new hires with role expectations and offering continuous support
  • Reinforcing connection to organisational purpose
  • Communicating new hires’ futuristic career growth trajectory

Sanjeeva Maithani remarked, “A winning onboarding must engage new hires before joining. As the key custodian, managers must proactively ensure cultural integration, understanding of role responsibilities, 24/7 support, setting of project expectations and smooth sailing through induction processes. Enthusiastic mentors can be appointed through Buddy Programs, accomplishments of new hires recognised, and an open culture maintained for propelling new ideas & perspectives, making new employees feel valued.”

Investing in Managers to Recharge Workforce

The industry experts reinstated the importance of cultivating people-centric and not outcome-centric managers. Key strategies that can be pivotal are:

  • Hiring intelligent, future-ready and competent workforce
  • Empowering employees to steer their career growth forward through consistent learning and development
  • Establishing a lasting rapport with real-time, personalised recognition and informal connects
  • Avoiding seeking a mirror image of oneself in team members and remaining mindful of individual differences while setting expectations
  • Entrusting employees with the right balance of freedom and responsibilities

Contrarily, AI, robotics and other technologies can be leveraged to simplify corporate functional processes for managers, letting them focus better on building an engaged workforce of tomorrow.

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