What makes improving engagement for remote workers unique?
Improving employee engagement for remote workers is particularly important because they don't have the same opportunities for face-to-face interaction with their colleagues and supervisors as in-office workers do. Without that kind of interaction, remote workers can easily feel isolated and disconnected from the team. Not to mention, this guide on hybrid and remote working reveals that employees working from home have jumped from 4.7% before the pandemic to 38%, and 96.7% of employees who have experienced remote work want to stay in that setup.
Since all signs point to a remote future with all the complexities that come with it, it's crucial to create a work environment that encourages better communication and teamwork. That way, employees working remotely won't feel left out or disconnected from the rest of the company.
To make sure your remote employees are feeling the love, it's important to give them clear goals and recognition for their achievements. They deserve to know that their hard work is appreciated! Oh, and let's not forget about resources. Remote workers should have access to the same training and development opportunities as in-office employees.
By focusing on improving engagement for remote workers separately, companies can help ensure that their remote employees feel connected, valued, and motivated, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction. Let's make sure everyone feels connected and valued, no matter where they're working from!
10 ideas to Keep Remote Workers Engaged
Tips to increase employee engagement for teams working remotely
1. Encourage interaction
Even a gesture as simple as saying hello at the beginning and the end of the working day via instant messaging can help build the feeling of belonging. But apart from making the most of emojis and GIFs in a chat (like they do in tech company Slack!), schedule daily and weekly virtual meetings and keep cameras on as your share their progress of projects and tasks. Encourage members to keep it casual and let their personality shine through. However, be conscious about respecting your colleagues' time by keeping these meetings brief and packed with smiles, some laughs, and pertinent information for all. (We all dread those long, drawn out meetings that could’ve been emails!)
2. Respect personal time and enforce a healthy work-life balance
Definitely easier said than done, but achieving a healthy work-life balance is essential to boosting employee engagement. Employees who can balance their personal and professional lives feel more fulfilled, less stressed, and more motivated to perform well in their jobs. This provides a sense of purpose beyond just work and promotes loyalty and engagement when employers value their personal time and well-being. On the other hand, when work takes up too much time and energy, employees can quickly become burnt out and disengaged. To promote work-life balance, employers should offer flexible work arrangements, encourage time off, and prioritize employee well-being, fostering a positive work culture that values both employee happiness and productivity.
3. Advocate for empathy
You know what makes a team stronger? Empathy! That means being able to understand and feel for each other. When we work together and achieve big things, especially during tough times, it brings us closer as a team. We feel more connected to each other and to the company we work for.
So, it's really important for companies to make empathy part of their goals. When we feel connected and loyal to our team, we work better together and everyone's happier. Plus, it just feels good to be part of a team that cares about each other.
Why not schedule a team building exercise every now and then? Design activities that help people get to know each other better to help communication and collaboration flow better within teams. This should be built into the work schedule… Please don’t ask for even more screen time after work hours!
4. Boost confidence and autonomy
One of the problems that managers face when working with remote employees is the lack of trust. But just because we’ve gone virtual does not necessarily imply that we have to constantly make sure our team is glued to their work. Micromanaging and too much control is a bad sign for many employees and, worse, actually impedes on their performance. That is why it is crucial to clearly define current objectives and to genuinely trust and believe in your team’s success, without keeping them under your thumb. Remember, a greater feeling of work autonomy is linked to higher engagement levels!
5. Shine the spotlight on employees
It is essential for employers to recognize the efforts of their employees, even when working remotely. This can be done through simple activities such as sending out a thank you email, having a #kudos chat channel (like we do at Erudit!), organizing a virtual appreciation event, or even a shout out in a team meeting. It is important to recognize employees for their efforts and accomplishments, as it boosts morale, strengthens the lines of communication and feedback, and increases engagement. Don’t forget to communicate your appreciation as soon as a task is accomplished! And please, please be sincere about it. A whiff or sarcasm or a disingenuous vibe may yield an adverse result!
7. Keep the lines of communication open
If you're part of a remote team, it's important to keep the communication flowing both ways. You don't want to feel like you're working in a vacuum! That's why it's crucial for everyone to stay connected and share their ideas, feedback, and progress updates. And it's not just up to the team members - managers need to make sure that communication is clear and that everyone knows what they're responsible for. By having regular conversations and giving feedback, the team can stay on top of their progress and build trust in each other. Plus, it just feels good to know that you're part of a team that's working together toward a common goal!
8. Organize team buildings in person
Even though regular physical interactions can mostly be replaced by virtual ones, there is a magic to in-person interaction that boosts engagement and gives us a sense of belonging within a team. Having a fully remote set-up at Erudit, we try getting people together in one city by sponsoring trips, accommodations, and a co-working space making the work bonds much stronger and making communication and collaboration more fluid. We find that when the experience is enjoyable, engagement levels spike after and burnout risk is reduced. Employees are also empowered to propose meetups outside work and visit each other’s cities on their own initiative! It’s awesome to see friendships form in and out of the workplace.
9. Take your workforce pulse regularly
Knowing the pulse and sentiment of your people is especially important when it comes to remote teams as it can be difficult to gauge employee morale through a screen. Insight on how employees are feeling can help employers identify potential issues, such as lack of communication, alignment, or simply understanding which teams are more stressed out than others. This allows leaders to give the right support at the right time and, therefore, empowering higher engagement.
How you decide to take your workforce pulse is up to you! While we are excited about finding new ways to measure sentiment and well-being without employee surveys (Yes, it’s possible!), we support any initiative to better listen to and understand employee needs and build a happier work culture. Here’s a quick guide that may help you conduct your employee surveys.
10. Create a seamless onboarding process for new hires
Onboarding processes are a critical element of remote work, as they help set the tone for employee engagement and ensure that employees feel part of the team. Onboarding processes can be adapted to fit the needs of a remote team, but the core focus should be on creating a sense of connection and providing the necessary tools and resources for employees to be successful. More than just an orientation to the company, its policies, and any tools technologies that the team may be using, the onboarding processes should set clear objectives and expectations as well as include activities that help build relationships between new hires and existing team members.
11. Make the most of tech tools
I know we said 10, but here’s a bonus idea that we thought was important to add! As the HR and human capital management fields were presented with new, complex challenges (like a remote work setup!), technology responded with solutions. There are now countless options for communications tools, auto-survey tools to measure the workforce pulse, project management solutions, productivity tracking, and more that empower leaders and HR professionals to leave behind tedious work and focus on building a culture that prioritizes trust, communication, and well-being alongside productivity. Don’t be afraid to give them a try and find the tools that work for you and your organization!
How Employee Engagement Software Can Help You
Pardon the plug and feel free to skip this if you aren’t interested! But we’d be remiss not to share how helpful it has been to track daily levels of engagement through our Employee Engagement Software.
When we spoke to a data and analytics expert about making decisions for the workforce, she said that HR and leaders should be making decisions based on data collected “as close to today as possible”. That said, a regular measure of engagement not only gives you a more accurate picture of your workforce's sentiment, it also allows you to better understand the drivers of the metric and track what initiatives work and what don’t.
Every workforce is different as every team and every individual contributor is unique. What works to boost engagement in one organization may not work in yours, but it’s important to learn from best practices, test out solutions, and track results so you can build the work culture of your dreams; a people-first workplace where everyone thrives!