With the ongoing global pandemic threatening health and the economy, it comes as no surprise that we’re seeing more employees suffering from work-related stress, with 45% of people agreeing that the situation has impacted their lives significantly. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report, work-related stress has increased by 5% between 2019 and 2020 to reach a record-high of 43% of workers reporting daily stress at work.

Gallup also found that worker engagement dropped two percentage points from 22% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 globally, revealing the link between the decrease in employee engagement and increase in work-related stress. Gallup did recognize that the U.S. and Canada actually experienced a boost in employee engagement compared to the rest of the world. Despite this, only about one in three U.S. employees and one in five Canadian employees are engaged at work. Therefore, leaders still need to create better employee engagement programs and actively implement them.

The Importance of Keeping Employees Engaged

When employees are engaged at work, they are more likely to work harder and stay with the company longer. When employees feel like their work has value, they feel a sense of accomplishment which provides a higher level of job satisfaction than workers who reported feeling little or no engagement at work. 

Therefore, employee engagement has a critical impact on employee retention, productivity, and performance. More importantly, an engaged employee is less likely to experience work-related stress. And those that do feel stressed at work tend to communicate their negative feelings to their managers better. 

The Five Requirements of Effective Managers

The most valuable relationships in any organization are the ones between the manager and the manager’s subordinates. Effective manager-subordinate relationships are drivers of employee engagement, which leads to improved communication. And the more aligned subordinates are with their managers, the more satisfied they are at work and less burdened by stress. Here are what effective managers are doing to engage employees:

1. Plan 

Effective managers develop their own plan which is aligned with the organization’s overall mission and vision. This enables them to think through their focus for day-to-day work, deliverables and value-adding strategies. This is done in discussion with their manager to ensure alignment with their manager’s plan, creating the context for them to do their work and help the organization reach its long-term objectives. These plans should be documented so that they can be used as context for team members to help them understand their roles and assigned tasks. At Effective Managers™ we call these Value Added Plans because they create a focus on value-added work throughout the organization.

2. Do

Through the process of creating a plan, discussing it with their manager, and having it approved,  effective managers have a clear understanding of that work they must personally do. This is their value-added work – that work that only they, in their position, with their capabilities, can do. 

3. Set context and boundaries

Effective managers are the primary link between their team members and the organization’s strategy. They set context and boundaries with their team members through position descriptions, standards, policies, and especially their plan. Clarifying objectives and their link to strategic intent helps team members recognize the impact of their roles and provides the context they need to take initiatives and make decisions. 

4. Delegate

Effective managers manage their subordinates according to their plan and ensure everyone is equipped with the time, resources, and capability to carry out their assigned tasks. They not only interact and manage subordinates but also remove the distractions that decrease productivity and performance. Effective managers know that delegation is critical in creating the direct link that aligns objectives with the execution of the organization’s strategic plan. Effective delegation clearly communicates to their subordinates their accountabilities and the authority they have for doing their work.

5. Feedback loops

From delegating to coaching and conducting performance appraisals, effective managers need to create feedback loops to provide and receive accurate and valuable information. They also need to establish other feedback loops such as with their peers in other parts of the organization, or into the community.

There is so much information about Covid19 coming from so many sources. There is very little about managing through such an unprecedented time of uncertainty. 

Whether you are a CEO/Owner, Executive, or Manager, your team members look to you for guidance. Here is a short article and video on the key elements that need to be in place for top-performing organizations. Think about what you can do now so your organization can be nimble in these times of uncertainty and an increasing pace of change.