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Employee Engagement Lessons Learned From Pandemic And ‘The Great Resignation’



It takes a team to attract and serve high-paying clients. Employee engagement is directly related to happier clients, which in turn relates to client attraction and retention.


Startling fact from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: In August, 2021, 4.3 million workers quit their jobs because they were looking for something better or they did not want to return to working back in the office again. The media have dubbed it The Great Resignation.


“Let’s quit talking about ‘The Great Resignation,’” says author and business leader Brian Fielkow. “We should instead talk about the great recognition. Recognition that highly engaged employees are less likely to leave. Recognition that poor treatment yields high turnover. Recognition that employee retention is not an HR function. It’s a strategy function that must be driven by leadership.”


Fielkow has a 30-year successful business leadership track record that includes growing and transforming multimillion-dollar organizations. Based in Houston, he is a well-respected speaker and the author of two books.


According to Fielkow, there are several employee engagement lessons to be learned from the pandemic:


Lesson One: We led with empathy. “We recognized quickly that risk tolerance regarding Covid-19 varied wildly from employee to employee,” noted Fielkow. “To the greatest extent possible, we allowed employees to define their work parameters. By putting employees in control of their work, we signaled understanding and trust. In return, we were rewarded with unprecedented effort, commitment and results.”


Lesson Two: We communicated often. “The pandemic era brought tremendous uncertainty, and that bred fear,” says Fielkow. “To address the fear, we communicated often, sharing what information we knew and our plans to thrive. By facing the challenge with transparency and humility, we built trust. Our team knew we were on top of the situation, navigating as best we could. They knew we were in this together. That level of openness built more trust.”


Lesson Three: We engaged the families. “It was not enough to communicate to our direct employees,” says Fielkow. “Their loved ones needed to know that our company cared about them. We provided information about staying safe as the pandemic unfolded. For true employee engagement to happen, their families must be involved.


Lesson Four: We found better ways to help our team grow. “Just because personal training sessions were paused, that does not mean training could stop,” Fielkow believes. We engaged in more frequent, shorter video lessons. We’re converting much of our training to gamification. The pandemic forced new, innovative ways for our team members to professionally learn and develop.”


Lesson Five: We engaged with the community. “At the outset of the pandemic, unemployment skyrocketed and community needs were great,” says Fielkow. “We’re in the logistics business and donated trucking service to our local food bank to stock community centers regionally. We worked with the CDC to help develop hygiene best practices for long haul truck drivers. Our truck drivers were on the front lines of the pandemic response. We shared our story with the media including Today show and Telemundo. This built a lot of pride in what we do.”


According to Fielkow, hybrid is here to stay. Before the pandemic, many employers never would have liberally accommodated work from home. The pandemic forced employers to quit talking about “work-life balance.” He says many people found that illusive balance in the Covid-19 era, enabled by technology.


“Because of it we have happier employees,” says Fielkow. “We will never be back in the office five days per week. It will be a blend.”