How To Inspire Employee Engagement In Times Of High Uncertainty

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How to Inspire Employee Engagement in Times of High Uncertainty


The current business environment is constantly changing and organizations must correspondingly adjust and adapt to the changes if they are to survive. The incessant changes are replete with episodes of uncertainty that may deal a blow to the wellbeing and the subsequent performance of the workforce. As a result, it is important that leaders craft effective ways to lead the employees during such times, in a manner that aligns their focus with the mission and visions of the organization. Employees are undoubtedly the primary asset in an organization (Jorge & van Dierendonck 2014). In an endeavor to keep the employees engaged during such times, it is critical to gain a profound comprehension of uncertainty and the causes, which will then result into a one-size-fits-all plan to lead the employees through these tough times in an organization. Uncertainty describes dearth of information with respect to the amount of information required for task completion versus the available information. In simpler terms, times of uncertainties are those that the workforce does not know for sure which direction to take concerning a particular situation. The definition reveals four primary sources of uncertainty namely lack of understanding of available information, incomplete information than what is required to complete a task, and undifferentiated yet seemingly feasible choices. Times of uncertainty is caused by both external and internal environmental factors in an organization. Hackett (2015), for example, failure by suppliers to provide requisite information on forecasted late deliveries may cause uncertainty. Unprecedented system failures during urgent tasks may also cause anxiety and lead to uncertainty among the personnel. Internal causes of uncertainty may include lack of raw materials or ineffective technology.

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Inspiring employee engagement during times of uncertainty

It is often commonly alleged that motivation comes from within. To this end, Lewis, Romanaggi and Chapple (2010) posits that any inspiration efforts should be aimed at invoking motivation within the employees. This is equally true for engagement. Employee engagement is at its peak when the employees feel connected, thus, desire to remain part of the organization despite the dilemmatic situations. This brings us to the question, what can leaders and managers do to inspire employee engagement during times of uncertainty? A vague answer is that they must create an environment that engages the employees. One may then ask; what does such an environment entail? In particular, it comprises an un-distractible focus on the mission and visions of the organization, open communication and unhampered dialogue, perspective flexibility and the ability to synthesize and understand the standpoints of the employees, clarification of the expectations, continuous follow-up, and most importantly, showing gratitude to the tenacity that the employees show through the tough times.

Focusing on the mission and visions of the organization

The turbulence that often accompany times of uncertainty is highly likely to throw the team off-course. The only thing holding them together, therefore, becomes the vision and mission of the organization. It is important that the leaders reiterate, clarify and restate these elements. In fact, Xanthoupoulou, Bakker, Demerouti and Schaufeli (2009) notes that this is also the time to seek feedback from the team as to what the new vision and mission of the organization may be in the face of change. It is important to note that this is not done to worsen the state of quagmire, rather, as an opportunity to revisit the key elements of the organization that may be pertinent to focusing on the ultimate goal of the organization or the ongoing change. For instance, the leader may initiate a discussion on the impact of the current market situation on the mission and vision of the organization, and how to effectively deal with the impacts. This allows the employees to collectively share their views and thoughts on how best the organization can respond to the current situation and make the best out of it all.

Maintain open communication and dialogue

Periods of change are often replete with general confusion, and a complete state of discombobulation. Nonetheless, Chughtai and Buckley (2008) reiterates that the employees deserve to be in the loop. There is need for the managers and leaders to take time off their busy schedules and hold regular sessions of communication with the entire group. These sessions should must not necessarily be frequent, but their frequency should be pegged on the magnitude of uncertainty and level of confusion among the workforce. Regardless, principles of open dialogue requires sharing of the current information, recognition of the situation and assurance that its rectification is underway, and clarify any existing misinformation (Paulsen, Callan, Grice, Rooney, Gallous, Jones et al. 2005; Saaris & Judge 2004). It is important to note that employees easily develop trust with a leader who gives them frequent updates and conducts follow-ups of any information as soon as it is available. The trust is pivotal to engaging the employees.

Flexibility of perspectives

Managers and leaders should not see themselves as having a veto power over the employees. This is not the time to exercise your overriding authority over the employees since they are highly unstable and unfortunate cases like employee turnover may rise. Various team leaders must, therefore, honestly admit to the prevailing dearth of information or thereof. Do not fear adjusting standpoint vis-à-vis the new information. This creates a feel of congruence with the leadership of the organization which subsequently creates and builds trusts between the management and the employees. On the contrary, when the employees feel that the organization is rigid an unappreciative of the current storm, they become equally rigid and combative. They stop supporting organizational efforts aimed at managing the situation and they completely lose focus.

Clarification of expectations

The fact that the leaders need to be flexible in their thinking does not mean that they should lax on their management duty. In fact, they ought to remain resolute and lucidly clarify expectations that the organization has on employees during the times of uncertainty and thereafter. Without clearly defined expectations, times of uncertainty can throw the workforce into underperformance and engagement in such tangents as gossip or browsing through the internet with a view to gathering information on the situation. It is, therefore, important to encourage the employees to maintain high standards of productivity and activity.

Provision of continuous follow-up

Clarifying the expectations is often accompanied by frequent follow-ups to ascertain implementation of the expectations. Each communication must be accompanied with follow-ups (Macey, Schneider, Barbera & Young 2011; Nikandrou, Papalexandris and Bourantas 2000), not only for feedback but also gauging the effectiveness of the communication mechanisms. The follow-ups show the employees that the management is concerned about their welfare during the times of uncertainty, and that the leaders are working towards finding a solution to the ongoing gridlock. On the overall, the main aim of the follow-ups is to ensure that the employees do not get lost midway.

Appreciate the employees

Times of uncertainty affect the stability of everyone in the organization regardless of their position. As the drivers, leaders and managers should recognize and acknowledge the impact of the period on the employees. Indeed, Dewhurst, Guthridge and Mohr (2009) adds that there is nothing more rejuvenating than the feeling that your efforts are appreciated. Incentives and rewards may show the employees that their efforts are valued, but a mere verbal expression of gratitude may suffice in certain cases.


While the current economic environment may be opening a myriad opportunities for improvement and growth, it envelopes scary episodes that may hinder the same growth. Leaders and managers, as drivers, maintain a front seat during times of high uncertainty, and their actions directly determine the reaction from the employees. Needless to say, all the actions and steps they take should aim at promoting employee engagement and maintaining stability amidst the turbulence. Retrospectively, focusing on the vision and mission, maintaining open communication and dialogue, adopting a flexibility in perspectives, frequent follow-ups, clarification of expectation, and appreciating the employees works to create and build trust which ultimately fosters employee engagement.

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Essays Stock (2024). How to Inspire Employee Engagement in Times of High Uncertainty. Essays Stock.

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