The pandemic-driven seismic change in the way we view work and its meaning has resulted in one of the largest talent crises in decades. The resulting fight to attract – and retain – employees is one of the biggest challenges facing organizations today. In September of 2021, there were 10 million job openings and 8.4 million unemployed Americans, indicating a significant discrepancy between available opportunities and what candidates are looking for. One proven way to combat attrition is having a committed workforce, which also brings a myriad of other benefits that are needed to drive success in a post-pandemic world such as increased revenue, productivity, and engagement.
Understanding employee commitment and its importance
Employee commitment is multi-faceted. It encompasses a sense of loyalty and motivation to work hard on behalf of the organization along with a desire to adhere to company values and processes. Committed employees take ownership of their work and are bought into the mission and goals of the organization for the long run. True commitment is achieved when an employee performs their work with passion and excitement. Engagement, energetic performance, and a willingness to carry out positive activities for the good of the organization are some of the traits that committed employees will display. Cultivating commitment often results in employees who contribute more than is expected to reach their strategic goals, thereby strengthening an organization and making it a better place to work. A high level of commitment is indispensable for increasing output and creating competitive advantages such as higher productivity and lower turnover.
Boosting employee commitment in 2022 and beyond
1. Actively discuss career growth potential, ensure clear communication, and get feedback.
Promoting from within and encouraging internal mobility can boost engagement and commitment. Longer workdays, busier schedules, and added stress have taken a toll on everyone but it’s vital not to push the discussion of employee career development to the back-burner. Foster employee growth and loyalty in your workplace by making time to discuss individual team members’ career growth goals, potential opportunities, and how they want to move forward. Studies show that one of the most important rituals of effective team leaders is a recurring weekly meeting to individually check-in with their people. These 1:1’s energize employees’ performance and help reduce involuntary turnover. Talking, listening, acting and connecting are key tools that managers can use to help understand what their team members are thinking and feeling. Be purposeful and communicate clearly when establishing expectations and determining objectives. Weave long-term goal planning into conversations, the more regularly it’s brought up in dialogue, the less intimidating it may feel to employees when you aren’t in the same physical space. Listen to the words and phrases individuals are using to pick up on their enthusiasm to join a new project or sense dismay with a task they have repeated problems with. When you detect something new, act on your observations and make recommendations. Assign projects that will challenge and excite team members and then let them execute and take ownership of their progress throughout. Tracking progress and highlighting achievements will improve morale and engagement.
2. Strategically communicate organizational values and goals to ensure employees feel their work is aligned with the overall mission and vision of the organization.
Research shows that when employees feel that they are working on something valuable, their commitment strengthens, along with their enthusiasm and dedication. But problems can arise if employees don’t feel aligned with the values of their organization. In a 2021 study, 70% of respondents reported that their sense of purpose is heavily determined by their work. And while 85% of executives say that they are ‘living their purpose at work’, only 15% of first-line managers and employees feel the same. This dichotomy creates a stark ‘purpose gap’ between management and those beneath them. Of companies that have solid performance management systems, 91% say that their people’s goals are aligned with organizational priorities. Kick-start the process by guiding team members and explaining how their work fits into the bigger picture. Aligning individual goals to business objectives and strategies will strengthen connectedness and commitment This syncing will improve performance and motivate employees as they understand the direct influence their work has on the organization and overall success.
3. Facilitate consistent communication between hybrid team members and management.
Effective communication is a driver of employee commitment and strengthens loyalty. Holding regular team meetings enables ongoing communication between team members and builds camaraderie, especially in hybrid teams that include solely remote workers. These meetings keep everyone up-to-speed with how to move shared objectives forward and provide a forum for problem-solving and presenting new ideas. Experts suggest scheduling recurring meetings on the same day and time to create a routine. Having everyone turn their cameras on will help participants pick up on non-verbal cues they may have missed otherwise. Try to find a time that suits all members best by scheduling meetings on days they are not committed to working on individual tasks. Team meetings should emphasize inclusion and make all attendees feel welcomed. Being transparent about what is expected beforehand, creating a safe space for questions and feedback, and modeling participation desired will increase engagement and involvement. Thinking strategically about how to ensure meetings are collaborative will cultivate the right mindset for discussion and boost their effectiveness.
4. Don’t count hours worked – focus on the goals achieved and make sure your people understand the impact of their work.
Commitment often increases when employees experience long-term success and understand the impact of their contributions. Make sure that team members are clear on their short-term projects and long-term goals and know why their work is of value. Assessing performance is not a simple task. One metric alone most likely won’t reflect all the subtleties of a team member’s achievements, and the same issue applies whether they’re working from the physical office, from home, or via a hybrid model. Instead of counting hours worked, count the outcome of the tasks done as a key metric to measure success. Management based on output rather than input is a more human and useful way to measure performance. Close to half of US employees have an unclear definition of what they’re expected to achieve: this is a worst-case scenario as it will lead to wasted time and on-the-job confusion. Equally important is collaborative goal setting, which increases morale as employees can actively recognize which responsibilities are most meaningful to them. It’s also a good idea to invite team members and those further down your organization’s hierarchy to meetings, even if your manager’s manager will be in attendance. This helps break down the hierarchy and can strengthen workplace commitment.
5. Ensure team members who need it, can find a mentor within the organization.
Mentorship can help create focus and purpose, and strengthen relationships across one’s organization. Studies show that employees who have strong mentors reap a wide array of benefits such as increased pay, greater satisfaction, and increased organizational commitment. Mentoring is crucial when it comes to driving success — especially for minorities and women, two groups who frequently report mentoring as a critical part of their progression. Yet hybrid working doesn’t function in the same way as traditional work models and therefore a new support system is needed. This is where transitional mentorship can help. This hybrid model of mentorship is characterized by formal and informal communication and requires finding the right balance of meeting physically and from afar. Research shows that employees who have mentors to help them develop personal and professional skills are significantly more successful and likely to advance further in an organization than those that don’t. The exchange can bring connection and meaning to an employee’s daily life. Alongside knowledge transfer and guidance, which can help an employee to understand their role better and be more effective at it, mentors often support workers through difficult times. Successful mentorship also works both ways: in one study, 90% of those who had been mentors themselves reported that mentoring improved their leadership capabilities, underlining its importance further.
It’s never been more vital to prioritize strategies that increase workplace commitment. From making time to discuss employees’ future career paths and ensuring they live their purpose at work to providing them with mentors or sponsors, there’s much that organizations can do. Keeping an open dialogue with your team; creating non-hierarchical forums for discussion and acknowledging achievement when it happens can further increase the sense of commitment that is vital in the post-Covid hybrid workforce. To pave a new way forward, organizations should deliberately address the challenges brought on by the pandemic and intentionally adapt their practices to enhance workplace commitment.
Montara analyzes digital signals, interactions, and relationships, looking at how they evolve over time to give you visibility into commitment across the organization. Learn more about how to cultivate commitment in your workplace today.