Employee Engagement Amid Workplace Turmoil

5 min read

Love, as a base note, is the ore, and order, of the container

In today’s world, businesses and companies have had to navigate the economic uncertainty that has come with the current pandemic and its effects on the workforce.

To navigate this space, we recently facilitated a peer leadership exchange workshop on the topic of "Employee Engagement Amid Workplace Turmoil." This workshop included over 150 HR executive leaders, and participants worked through a series of engagement questions and openly shared their real-world strategies for maximizing engagement and productivity, improving culture and wellbeing, and more.

The energy and strategies that were shared during the session were so amazing, that we decided to compile all the input into the list below.

Feel free to learn and reference these strategies as you navigate your own employee engagement initiatives. 


The first workshop question focused on the steps companies have taken to maintain a positive and engaging work environment for employees in light of economic uncertainty.

The group shared several initiatives they had implemented to achieve this:

  • Open Talk Sessions: One company started open talk sessions where employees can ask any questions they have.
  • Fun Initiatives: Another company hosts fun FriYAYS, potlucks, and birthday lunches to celebrate and bring everyone together.
  • Employee Programs: Another company offers financial literacy programs, mental health programs, and emotional intelligence training.
  • Tuition Reimbursement and Health Insurance Contributions: One company implemented tuition reimbursement programs and increased how much the agency is contributing to health insurance.
  • Flexible Schedules: A remote company provides more flexible schedules along with initiatives to help employees stay engaged.
    Work-Life Balance: A company focuses on work-life balance/flex schedules and employee well-being.
  • Internal Mobility: Another company is getting serious about internal mobility.
  • Virtual Engagement: One company is increasing virtual engagement.
  • Wellness Programs: A company implemented a Wellness Program.
  • Refocusing on Culture: One company is refocusing on its culture - how to keep the company's purpose and practices vibrant in a difficult environment.
  • Social Engagement: A team started scheduling additional happy hours with the team, doing walking 1:1's, and ensuring the team joins town hall meetings.
  • Monthly Happy Hour: A company holds a monthly company-wide Happy Hour, which offers employees an opportunity to play games and engage with each other.
  • Employee Engagement Committee: One company started an employee engagement committee to help connect team members with volunteer or giving opportunities.
  • Booster Morale: A company has Booster Morals monthly to keep employees enthused, happy, and engaged.
  • Hybrid Work Environment: A company maintaining a hybrid work environment as much as possible and focusing on how to help employees with bonuses and such.
  • Training on Zoom and Flexible Work Schedules: A company provides training on Zoom and flexible work schedules.
  • Events for Connection: A company has more events for employees to get connected to one another not just on work-related matters but to connect on life and really get engaged.
  • Listening Sessions: A company hosts listening sessions to address workplace stress.
  • Global Events: A company hosts a lot of global events on Zoom with speakers (externally as well as internally).
  • Acknowledging Mental Health: A company acknowledges the mental health aspect, validation, focuses on morale and opens up communication.
  • EAP Services: A company pushes the opportunity to leverage EAP services for mental health. 

The second workshop question explored the various ways employers can actively listen to employees and understand how they are feeling right now including:

  • Pulse Surveys
  • Two-week follow-ups
  • 1:1s, quarterly career conversations, and pulse surveys
  • Listening sessions
  • Conducting stay interviews with all employees
  • Holding monthly "Open door days" for people to come and have access to senior leadership in the organization
  • More frequent 1:1s to focus on their personal development
  • Town Halls with Q&A
  • Stay-in interviews
  • The CEO has a Yammer page where any employee can ask questions, and he will record a response
  • Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions
  • Having an open-door HR policy, all you have to do is ask the question
  • Weekly HR roundtable that anyone can join with questions or concerns
  • Virtual office hours between leadership and employees that are offsite
  • Employee Experience Surveys multiple times a year
  • Surveys, team meetings, one-on-ones
  • Conversations with employee resource groups
  • Listening sessions, vision circles, and one-on-ones, Senior Leaders went to each regional office for staff meetings and served breakfast to our team members
  • An open-door policy with people to come up and share and give feedback on Slack and in person
  • Holding weekly or daily check-ins with folks just to follow up on a claim or to see how they are doing
  • Conversations with Culture Ambassadors groups
  • Employee Engagement Survey, pulse checks, and manager 360s
  • Leadership Luncheons where an individual selected by one county will present for approximately 20-30 minutes on an aspect of leadership.
  • Culture/engagement survey conducted every year.

Additionally, some organizations are using innovative approaches like formal and informal wellness check-ins in every Zoom or meeting, audio series called ‘Inside Out,’ and starting a change readiness/change success survey and feedback loops. Lastly, some leaders are allowing employees time to schedule a meeting and for someone to listen without offering advice.


A few other things we talked about included "How can we do a better job at recognizing employees? Especially when working remotely."

Recognizing and appreciating employees is crucial, especially in a remote work setting where interactions are limited.

The group shared several ways to recognize employees, such as acknowledging growth, celebrating victories, highlighting people during meetings, recognizing specific efforts in a sincere and timely manner, and infusing recognition into day-to-day tasks.

They also suggested peer-to-peer recognition, creating a kudos chat group, and a recognition bot. Other methods included an employee of the month/year programs, spotlights on charitable contributions, weekly newsletters with congratulations, and creating a safe space for employees to provide feedback.

Moreover, some emphasized the importance of understanding what each employee values to provide the best recognition. Simple yet meaningful gestures such as sending handwritten notes or boxes of personal items can also go a long way.

Overall, consistent and individualized recognition is essential in boosting employee morale and engagement.

Lastly, to justify a larger budget and demonstrate the impact of these programs, we discussed this final question, "What metrics of measurement are you using to track progress & measure the impact of your actions like recognition?"

Some of the methods mentioned for tracking progress were engagement surveys, stay surveys, ENPS data from pulse surveys, org health surveys, roundtables, and feedback sessions.

All measuring connection to leadership, retention, feedback from those who received recognition, random surveys of multiple groups, participation numbers in meetings, anonymous surveys, check-ins, culture surveys, longevity, and turnover reports.

A few companies did not have any measures in place yet, while others were still exploring new ideas.

Some strategies mentioned to increase survey participation were encouraging leaders to get competitive, tracking completion, and making leaders want to get to 100% survey completion first. Some companies also reported tracking HR metrics and using a tracking system built into their intranet to measure their results against the previous years' results and report actions taken throughout the year following the results.


As we draw the curtains on this insightful event centered around the theme of "Employee Engagement Amid Workplace Turmoil," we have journeyed through a multitude of challenging topics, unearthing strategies and fostering a dialogue that can help guide us toward brighter horizons. 

Throughout these discussions, we have witnessed a remarkable collective determination to build a better world of work, even amid the turmoil. It is precisely this collective spirit that I urge you to embrace beyond these virtual walls. Remember that you are not alone in your aspirations for change. Together, we can create a community of like-minded individuals, supporting and uplifting one another on this journey. 

Remember, our journey does not end here. It merely begins. Let us carry the spirit of this event forward, infusing our workplaces with the resilience and empathy we have discovered within ourselves. Join our community, connect with fellow change-makers, and let us chart a course toward a future where the world of work becomes a nurturing environment for all.

Thank you for being a part of this transformative experience. Together, let us create a ripple of positive change that resonates far and wide, making the world a better place for every individual who walks through the doors of work.



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