Employee engagement for remote workforce

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is traditionally defined as a sense of loyalty, commitment, and employees’ mental and emotional bonds with their workplaces. The more engaged a person is, the more likely they are to exhibit improved efficiency, job satisfaction, and to go above and beyond in their job whenever possible. According to research, companies with highly engaged staff are 17 percent more productive and 21 percent more profitable.

It is aimed at increasing an employee’s emotional commitment to the organisation, their job responsibilities, their position within the company, their coworking atmosphere, and the company culture.

How does remote working influence employee engagement?

Remote work has been on the rise for years—and it will only continue to grow. As companies and employees settle into this new remote normal, many are realising the advantages of virtual work. And it’s no surprise why. Remote workers tend to be more productive, engaged, and happier. Plus, companies that offer remote and flexible work options are more attractive to top talent, helping businesses land and retain a competitive workforce.

A McKinsey study says more than half of workers would like to work from home at least three days a week after the pandemic, and nearly a third say they would like to work remotely full time. It is thus clear that some form of remote work or teleworking will be a permanent part of our future.

So, employee engagement isn’t easy, and it becomes even more elusive when you experience the same challenges in a completely remote environment. 

However, with the majority of corporations going remote, HR leaders are challenged to find newer and more tangible ways to keep their employees happy without engaging in face-to-face interactions.

How do we increase employee engagement for the remote workforce?

It has become something of a necessity for modern HR leaders to learn new methods of enhancing the remote employee experience. Here are some highly effective yet simple tips to ensure your remote employees are happy and their performance levels remain high.

1. Regular one-on-one meetings

The remote employee attends one-on-one meetings to provide feedback, update information, resolve issues, and assist colleagues in progressing together. Two people in an organisation, usually a manager and an employee, perform this routine check. Regular one-on-one meetings are a proactive method that lets quick decisions and timely responses to any issue before it escalates into a crisis.

When all personal or professional issues are respectfully listened to, employees feel connected to the organisation. It assists the remote team members to feel confident that at the end of each meeting, none of their critical issues or key subjects will remain unaddressed.

2. Sharing work updates

Employers or managers must share work updates to keep everyone informed. With workers working from home, employers now face a new challenge: keeping everyone informed about changes in the business, initiatives, and progress, as well as real-time business news that may affect the company.

Hence, empower the employees with access to a steady stream of relevant corporate updates through daily calls, weekly stand-ups, and video conferencing.

While sharing updates, ascertain that the information is distributed over all the designated channels. Technology cohorts such as Monday.com or Trello.com empower both the employer and employee to share work-related updates online. Such tools are agile online project management systems that ensure advancement.

3. Foster social interaction

Despite the many benefits of remote work, the number one drawback employees complained of was loneliness. Keep your remote employees engaged by fostering team connections through social hours, video chats, and virtual team-building activities.

Assign mentors to new hires so new employees have someone they can rely on to ask questions and get oriented throughout their first year. If possible, plan in-person team or company retreats and outings to strengthen those connections.

4. Show employees you care

Build meaningful relationships with your remote employees and give them permission to create balance. Respect their time by setting healthy boundaries around schedules, assignments, and performance expectations. Make the time to chat with them about:

  • Their family and personal hobbies
  • Stress and mental or emotional health
  • Their workload to help them avoid burnout

5. Ask for and listen to feedback

Communicate with employees when you take action (or why you won’t be taking action) on their feedback so they know they have been heard and their opinion is valued. When employees feel valued they are happier and more engaged at work.

And don’t shy away from giving constructive feedback. Help employees take advantage of development opportunities.

6. Recognise employee contributions

Remote workers tend to put in more hours than their in-office counterparts, but they often don’t feel part of the team. One solution is to make employee recognition a priority.

Leverage an online recognition platform to give every employee the ability to view, comment on, and give recognition in real-time. Research found that employee recognition is a top driver for employee engagement.

Regular recognition from peers and managers helps employees feel connected, appreciated, and valued.

7. Give employees the tools to succeed

Ensuring your employees feel confident and empowered to do their best work no matter where they are is key to improving engagement and performance. Whether a new hire or a veteran employee, make sure your remote team has the tools and training to get the job done.

And resources and amenities aren’t limited to hardware or equipment needs like laptops or company cell phones. Do your employees have a place they can work effectively at home? Do they have access to development opportunities?

Don’t be afraid to get creative. You can offer stipends for co-working spaces for employees who don’t have a home office or cover costs to send employees to business conferences and professional development courses.

8. Be flexible

One of the best things about remote work is the flexibility it offers employees. While you may need to have set times around team meetings and collaborative sessions, give your employees autonomy around when and how they work the rest of the time.

Trust them to get the job done. Building trust between employees and managers is crucial for employee engagement and satisfaction. Plus, flexibility means employees can develop a working cycle that works best for them, creating a healthier work-life balance.

9. Offer a mix of remote and in-house work options.

Remote work increases employee engagement, especially when employees spend a mix of time working at home and in the office.

Gallup found that the optimal engagement boost was when employees worked from home 3-4 days out of a five-day workweek. Time spent in the office helps employees feel connected to their co-workers and allows for in-person collaboration and bonding among team members. But most of the time, working remotely keeps employees focused and productive, less stressed, and happier.

Remote work is here to stay

It’s clear that remote work will only continue to grow in the coming years, which means understanding how to manage and engage your remote employees is more important than ever. 

Today’s employees have a taste for remote work and according to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey, 42% say if their job does not offer remote work options long term, they will switch to an organisation that does. And this is why it is critical for leaders to understand and prepare for the new workforce, which views remote work as a top-tier benefit.

When it comes to remote work, companies must consider the ramifications of employee engagement. Employees are more likely to perform successfully in a virtual work environment that recognises and acknowledges their everyday contributions to the organisation.

Fortunately, there are many ways to engage remote employees—use these tips to take advantage of all the benefits of a remote workforce and keep your team happy, healthy, and productive all year long.

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