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Leadership in Times of Crisis, Part 2: Leading by Promoting Employee Engagement

Terry Farber Eliasaf | Sept. 4, 2022

Next up in our mini-series on leadership in times of crisis, we’re focusing on the role of employee engagement and its “big sister,” company culture, in keeping your teams happy and inspired to meet your KPIs and get your business back on track. Here too, your desired results are directly tied to how your leaders promote the precise environment you wish for your organization, and at Hunter, we’re all about helping you find and nurture those leaders who can help you go the extra mile.

Let’s say that you wanted to establish the best workplace on earth; a place where employees of all seniority levels, backgrounds, and areas of expertise would actually enjoy clocking in each day. A lofty goal, but a likely one, considering that you’re investing so much time, money, and resources into its establishment. What would such a workplace look like? What would characterize its organizational culture? How would you ensure your employees are consistently engaged and motivated to act in the company’s best interests?

In an ideal world, i.e. when all the stars are aligned and your company is meeting its metrics and rolling in revenues, you would expect the business to strive to keep all employees happy, with rewards matching their work performance and work-life balance ambitions, each and every day. But what about in times of crisis? What about when it seems that the economy is crashing, the local currency is plummeting, staffing shortages abound, supply chain disruptions are par for the course, and a “Hail Mary” a day isn’t keeping the disasters away?

Believe it or not, but here, too, working to promote employee engagement, by fostering a supportive organizational culture and nurturing those ingredients employees believe make workplaces “the best,” is precisely what true leaders must do.

It isn’t easy to foster a unified culture

Employee engagement is the direct result of your company’s organizational culture, and studies indicate a strong link between positive organizational cultures, lower rates of employee churn, and more impressive operating profits. That said, when it comes to organizational culture, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution you can simply adopt, and aligning your company culture across departments and seniority levels can be extremely difficult to achieve.

All the more so, in the face of crises and change that require the company to shift gears, in order to merely survive.

However, a positive, unified culture CAN be established and maintained, even in uncertain or shaky times, so long as companies apply organizational culture that adheres to the values that REALLY matter. According to Glassdoor, these values are agility, collaboration, customer, diversity, execution, innovation, integrity, performance, and respect. Namely, companies must encourage individuality and independent thinking in full alignment with their vision, and mission, provide access to the tools and information employees need to understand the current (potentially volatile) environment and what’s required of them at every point in time, and allow (nay encourage) employees to develop themselves - personally and professionally - in good times and in bad.

Real leaders understand that it’s not just about your organization’s budget

For the most part, you don’t need to have deep pockets, to be able to foster an organizational culture that nurtures employee engagement. Integrity, respect, and collaboration are just as important as agility, innovation, and performance, and they don’t cost nearly as much to implement and execute.

Through a combination of leading by example and delegation, leaders can instill within their employees exactly those attributes of individualism and independence that they seek, and provide them with the information they need to feel a part of the organization, and able to effectively and happily do their jobs. In addition, leaders can look in-house and identify those team members who can contribute to each others’ personal and professional development, offering each other added value, without going into the red.

Note that, despite all of this, sometimes, investing a little in the short term, does breed better long-term results. It’s up to each and every organization and its leaders to understand what is realistic for them, at every point in time.

Many organizations are already doing this, with marked success. eBay regularly has employees share their personal experiences and give over mini-lectures on passion projects and areas of expertise; McDonald’s invests millions of dollars a year, so that its nearly 100,000 employees can gain nationally-recognized academic qualifications while they work; grocery chain Waitrose operates as a cooperative, with each of its employees serving as a part-owner, thereby feeling extra-invested in the company’s success; and the list goes on.

The opposite is just as true. Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company almost lost everything, simply because the organization has a “no bad news is shared” policy. It was only once they instilled a new culture of openness and honesty, and offered employees training opportunities, were they able to come out of the crisis and thrive as an organization.

Looking for leaders to engage your employees with outstanding organizational culture?

At Hunter, we lead the fields of executive search, development, and mentorship. We understand what characteristics your company’s leaders must espouse, in order to engage employees and ensure they remain committed and on-task, even in times of crisis and change. Over the years, we’ve learned from companies that have successfully mastered this challenge, as well as from those who’ve failed to engage and retain employees, long-term, and we work to ensure successful matches between companies and executives, so that the former is always their modus operandi.

If you aren’t 100% thrilled with your company’s ability to lead through crisis and change, let’s connect, and see how the Hunter team can help you out. >> https://hunter.co.il/en/contact/