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employee engagement for remote workers

5 Tips to Keep Remote Employees Engaged

November 5th, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rise of remote working environments in our country, but this trend has been emerging for well over 15 years. Remote working increased 216% between 2005 and 2019 (prior to the start of the pandemic). Based on these figures, as well as the ways in which many more companies have embraced remote work environments during the pandemic, it is clear that this work model is here to stay.

There are many reasons why remote work has become so popular. Employers and employees experience a variety of benefits from this working arrangement:

While the benefits of remote working outweigh the drawbacks for many companies, there are still challenges that must be navigated to ensure your team is set up for success. In particular, it can be more difficult to maintain employee engagement when your entire team isn’t interacting face to face at the office on a regular basis. It’s crucial that your management team takes the proper steps to keep your remote workforce engaged and connected with the company. Fortunately, there are many strategies you can use to accomplish this goal.

Establish Clear Company Communication Processes

Strong communication is always an essential component to maintaining high levels of employee engagement. However, it is even more crucial to have these communication processes documented and practiced by all team members when you have a remote workforce. Many items that are communicated casually in an office environment may not be delivered as easily when employees are working at home. This can leave employees feeling disconnected.

Use Company-Wide Communications When Appropriate to Keep Employees in the Loop

employee engagement - keeping remote workers on the same page with task management softwareEmployees will be much more engaged when they are kept in the loop regarding company policies, new initiatives and the overall direction of the business. It will not only remind them that they are part of a team working towards a larger goal, but it will also send the message that the company has an interest in cultivating a long-term relationship with them.

Some easy ways to ensure all important information is relayed to your team include:

  • Have your managers provide their team with weekly emails discussing tasks to be completed and upcoming deadlines to ensure everyone is clear on what needs to be accomplished and when work is due.
  • Create a document that spells out all workplace policies and operating procedures. Save this document in a location where all employees can access it, and make sure everyone knows where it is saved. As policies change over time, make sure this document is updated so that all team members are clear on the latest processes.
  • Create an internal monthly company newsletter that relays the latest news and events associated with your business. You can also use this newsletter as an opportunity to highlight team member successes, client wins, and any growth plans for the company.

Establish a Clear Communication Rhythm Between Managers and Their Team Members

While mass company communications are an effective way to relay certain pieces of information, these methods alone are typically insufficient to maintain a fully engaged team. It’s also important to engage all employees on deeper levels of communication that are more personal in nature. Your management team will be responsible for ensuring that these communications go smoothly and effectively.

It’s crucial that you establish a communication strategy that allows your managers to reach every employee on a regular basis. Some important components of this strategy include:

  • Hold weekly “1:1 check-in” meetings – These can be brief and informal. It simply gives all employees an opportunity to have dedicated face time with their manager in order to ask questions regarding projects they’re working on, request help when needed, and provide feedback regarding company policies and initiatives.
  • Schedule regular department meetings – In addition to one-on-one meetings with managers, it is helpful to get the entire team together at department meetings to ensure all team members are on the same page. The frequency of these meetings should be dictated by the size of each team and the number of projects they are working on.

Adopt Tools to Facilitate Effective Company Communication

departmental Zoom meeting to improve employee engagementWhen employees work in the office, they can easily walk over to a coworker to have a conversation regarding a client or a task. These informal communication opportunities aren’t as easy when everyone is working at home. Therefore, it’s important to adopt a variety of tools that will ensure your employees are able to communicate properly and effectively.

While email is useful for communications that require documentation or involve a significant amount of information, they aren’t appropriate for all situations. Some other tools to use with your team include:

  • Video meetings – Platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting make it easy for employees to hold department meetings or meet in smaller groups to discuss projects they are collaborating on. Make sure you use a tool that offers screen sharing capabilities to improve engagement and ensure all team members are on the same page.
  • Chat – Tools such as Slack and Google Hangouts allow team members to send each other messages when a long conversation isn’t necessary, but a prompt response is.
  • Cloud storage platforms – Tools such as OneDrive, Google Drive, SharePoint and Dropbox can be integrated with other communication tools to streamline collaboration and ensure everyone is working off of the most recent versions of documents.

Encourage Personal Connections and Interactions

It’s crucial that employee communication extends beyond company policy and work-related matters. Humans crave social interaction and personal connection. When your employees have an opportunity to interact with each other on a more personal level, they will experience greater job satisfaction, feel more connected to their teammates, and be more engaged.

These “water cooler conversations” are easy to have in an office, and they build camaraderie among your employees. It gives them an opportunity to discuss life outside of work – their families, their hobbies, items in the news, and the latest TV shows, music and movies dominating pop culture. In a remote working environment, these interactions are often much less frequent. This can increase feelings of isolation and potentially have a negative impact on employee engagement.

Therefore, it’s important to establish a culture that encourages personal connections and interactions. Some ways you can build this framework into a remote work environment include:

  • Reserve 5 minutes at the start of internal meetings for employees to chat about their lives before getting into the business items that need to be discussed.
  • Schedule virtual happy hours once or twice a month where employees have an opportunity to socialize.
  • Organize in-person company outings and team building activities several times a year so that your employees have an opportunity to see each other face to face in a social setting. If your team is spread out across the company, you may want to consider creating a budget for these activities that allows you to fly out of town employees in for these gatherings.

Clarify Goals and Expectations

Employees are typically more engaged when they understand the goals they are trying to achieve and the expectations regarding what constitutes success in their role. Make sure all goals, expectations and success metrics are clearly stated and mutually agreed upon. This will help ensure your team remains focused and engaged when working remotely.

Encourage Health and Wellness

employee health and wellbeingThe physical and mental wellbeing of your employees will significantly impact their happiness and productivity. Remote working offers employees a variety of benefits, but it also increases the likelihood that they will experience social isolation and feel compelled to work longer hours. This can lead to burnout, which will negatively impact employee engagement and employee retention.

Therefore, it’s crucial to create a remote work culture that places an emphasis on health and wellness. This will not only have a positive impact on your employees’ lives, but it will show them that you truly care about them. Some ways to create this culture include:

  • Give employees the ability to create a flexible work schedule that helps them to balance job responsibilities with family obligations, and allows them to work during the hours of the day when they’re most productive.
  • Encourage employees to take regular breaks during the day. Getting out of the house for a 10-15 minute walk on occasion can help your team members recharge.
  • Encourage employees to build time for exercise into their day. Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining physical and mental health.
  • Create a company recipe book where employees can share their favorite healthy meal recipes.
  • If your budget allows it, provide a fitness stipend for employees to use on a gym membership, yoga classes, or any other active endeavor they pursue.

Recognize Employee Accomplishments

Employees tend to remain more engaged when they feel appreciated and their accomplishments are recognized. Often, it’s easy for this recognition to fall off the radar in a remote work environment. To ensure this doesn’t happen, build these moments of appreciation and recognition into your company’s remote work culture.

There are many ways to recognize employee accomplishments:

  • Create a company “shout-out board” to highlight individual moments of success
  • Offer team members a small bonus, additional PTO hours, or some other perk when goals are reached
  • Have managers provide positive feedback and acknowledge team member accomplishments during staff meetings and as part of regular 1:1 check-in meetings
  • Acknowledge personal achievements such as the birth of a child or an upcoming marriage in addition to professional moments of success

Premier Employer Services Can Help

Navigating the challenges of maintaining employee engagement in a remote work environment can be a daunting process. If you need assistance with establishing a strong remote working culture at your company, Premier Employer Services can help. Our HR consultants have extensive experience helping companies who have shifted to a remote work environment establish a framework for success in their new work model.

Our unique Elevated Engagement Plus Approach™ is focused on helping you build a more inspired and engaged team. We understand that every company has a unique culture and workforce dynamic. We take the time to understand how these factors impact your business in order to create a custom program that will set your team up for success.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.