Employee Engagement: 9 Strategies to Keep Your Remote Team Connected
Remote work is no longer a future concept. It’s “here and now” and businesses all over the world have accepted the fact that remote working is the way forward.
Whether your business is an experienced remote team or new to the game, remote work poses unique challenges, not only because of operational issues but because it’s tough to keep remote employees engaged.
Employee engagement is difficult as it is, but it’s a bigger challenge when you are unable to interact face-to-face with your team. So, how can you go about engaging remote employees? In this post, we’ll discuss 9 employee engagement strategies you can consider to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees.
What is employee engagement?
According to Gallup, employee engagement is the degree to which employees within your organization “work with passion, willingly go the extra mile, and feel a profound connection to their company”. Highly engaged employees make positive contributions to your company’s culture, profitability, and reputation, and the ones who are less engaged can create potential setbacks in all of these areas.
What Highly Engaged Employees Do Differently?
Gallup distinguishes three different levels of employee engagement. Employees at each of these levels display certain behaviors and attitudes that make them different from the rest.
♦ Engaged: Engaged employees are highly invested and psychologically involved in their work and company. They are highly enthusiastic towards not only their job role but also towards the mission of the organization. They drive innovation and high performance to move the organization forward.
♦ Not engaged: These employees have a neutral attitude towards their work. They are psychologically unattached and work to meet the basic requirements of the job but lack the motivation to pursue anything more.
♦ Actively disengaged: These employees are not only unhappy at work, but they harbor negative feelings of resentment. Since their needs are not met, they act in ways that undermine what their engaged co-worker or company accomplishes.
How to Engage Remote Workers
♦ Host virtual meetings and casual hangouts
Most remote teams regularly communicate through instant messaging, video calls, emails, and web conferencing platforms. When the whole team is working, it’s a good idea to hold a video or a voice conference to encourage group collaboration using tools like Slack, Google Hangouts, and Trello can help.
However, take care not to make every conversation to be work-related. You can also plan a virtual get-together for non-work-related chats to keep employees engaged and excited to be part of the team.
♦ Keep the lines of communication open
Remote employees, especially those who work at odd hours or are working outside your time zone, may feel lonely as they work at a time when the other team members aren’t working. If you are setting a meeting or sending emails, consider your employee’s time zone. Knowing that their work schedules are understood, and respected goes a long way in making your virtual workers feel more connected and engaged.
Moreover, miscommunications occur commonly between remote workers, and you wouldn’t want to make your employees feel that they can’t voice concerns, ask questions or even talk to you. Let your remote workers know that you are available for one-on-one meetings. Listen to them and, if required, take action when an employee confides in you.
♦ Include leadership coaching for managers
Research by Gallup estimates that 70% of the variance in employee engagement can be attributed to management. For remote teams to be engaged and productive, it is crucial for managers to understand how to manage and lead a remote team.
Leadership development training programs will help the managers to step into the type of leadership role needed for remote teams. The training enables them to increase employee morale and retention, improve productivity, promote better decision-making, and build better remote teams.
♦ Give employees the tools they need
In this time and age, providing employees access to tools is not an option but a necessity. According to Deloitte, only 38% of employees are satisfied with the tools and technology their employer supplies them.
If you want your employees to do a first-class job, you can’t expect them to do it with third-class tools. So, give them the tools they need to do their work efficiently. However, ensure that they go through training to use the tools appropriately.
♦ Make sure your employees feel valued
Your employees need to feel appreciated – even if they are working remotely. Although in-person appreciation is not possible, look for simple acts to show your remote workers that you care about them. If it’s somebody’s birthday, send them a virtual card. If a worker went above and beyond to complete an assignment, schedule a team call to acknowledge their efforts.
♦ Encourage peer-to-peer feedback
Peer-to-peer feedback allows employees to stay focused and take ownership without holding any grudge against the management.
To encourage teamwork, give the freedom to all your employees to step in to discuss and share what’s working and what’s not, what has worked in the past, and what they should do for things to progress.
♦ Encourage regular check-ins
Engaged employees want their managers to have frequent one-on-one time with them, and they want feedback not only on their past performance but also on the future career paths.
Giving feedback to employees at quarterly or annual reviews isn’t enough. If you want your employees to be engaged, you would have to do more than that. You need to be more accessible to employees, both for formal reviews and quick check-ins.
♦ Encourage health and wellness
Your employee’s health should be a priority. If your employees are sick, they wouldn’t be able to perform to the best of their abilities. You can consider starting a wellness program for your team. For example, one month of daily walks or yoga. You can also consider introducing simple things like longer midday breaks for workouts or letting them off early on a few days to enjoy evening walks. You can also provide access to online fitness training programs. This will not only keep them healthy but also bring them closer together as a team.
♦ Enable and encourage knowledge sharing
Knowledge sharing between employees is beneficial for both company success and employee development. It is crucial for remote teams to foster a culture of knowledge sharing as they have fewer chances for in-person knowledge sharing. You can make remote knowledge sharing possible through the use of modern technology.
The entire world has been hit by a pandemic, and working remotely is the most viable option to deal with the situation. Many organizations think that it’s impossible to engage remote employees. Fortunately, it’s possible, but it needs a strategy, and this article attempts to help you formulate strategies to engage and motivate your employees in this unprecedented time.