8 ways to keep (remote) employee engagement high
Approximately 4.3 million people in the US work from home at least half of the time. The number of remote workers is increasing faster than ever – I bet you have remote workers on your staff too. There’s plenty of research proving that remote work is an effective option, and it may even increase employee engagement. However, it’s not enough just to have people work from home if you want them to be engaged – you also have to take steps to help them get and remain engaged in their work. Continue reading to learn eight effective ways to improve remote employee engagement.
1 Make communication easy
A common challenge for remote workers is staying in touch with their managers, co-workers, and other team members. If communication isn’t continuous, simple and straightforward, remote workers might end up feeling isolated or disconnected from the rest of the team. One of the most effective ways to simplify communication is through the use of chat tools. When you use tools like Slack or Flock, for example, workers can stay in the loop and communicate with each other easily without having to constantly check their email or text message inboxes. The great thing about chat apps is that many of them allow you to create different types of chats. For instance, you can have a chat dedicated to “watercooler conversations” to encourage workers to talk to each other in a casual, non-work-related way, which can lead to better relationships and a deeper sense of engagement.
2 Have F2F chats
In addition to sending messages back and forth, it’s also helpful to create space for face-to-face chats as well. This is especially important when it comes to holding team meetings. If you’re relying exclusively on written communication, it’s easy for people to miss important information and/or announcements. Your team members may be in the chat but also working on something else and not contributing or focusing on the conversation. This can be avoided by using a video as a form of communication; when everyone can see each other’s faces, it’s easier to stay engaged and make sure everyone is participating in the discussion and helping to come up with solutions. Face-to-face chats also help workers to get to know their co-workers and managers on a more personal level. Being able to put a face to a name will help team members to feel more connected and they might even feel more comfortable talking about challenges and asking for help than they would be otherwise.
3 Encourage meeting attendance
Some remote employees might assume that a team meeting that takes place on a video call or a group message is optional. Make sure that everyone understands the purpose of the meetings as well as whether the attendance is obligatory or optional. By making attendance obligatory, you ensure the whole team stays in the loop and has the same sense of what is going on. It also helps you as a manager to get better acquainted with your workers and avoid letting people slip through the cracks, especially if you’re in charge of a very large team. Rarely, but sometimes, some workers might be resistant to the idea of mandatory meetings especially those who really lean into the flexibility of remote work. To counter this, be sure to give people plenty of notice of the meetings and try to always have the recurring weekly meetings on the same day and time. In addition, you may think about surveying your team members to find out what time works best for the majority of people.
4 Measure engagement regularly
If you’re never taking the time to measure engagement, it can be hard to determine whether or not your employees are actually engaged in and invested in the work that they’re doing. Take time to survey your workers on a regular basis to figure out how engaged (or disengaged) they are. There are lots of simple and short employee engagement surveys out there that you can ask your workers to fill out. They consist of just a few questions, so they’re easy for the employees to complete and won’t take up too much of their time. The answers your team members give to these questions can tell you a lot about how they’re doing. They can also make you aware of any potential engagement issues that you need to address. When implementing employee engagement surveys, make sure to do them regularly, take needed action and reflect on the previous results.
5 Set aside time for goal setting
Employees (both remote and in-office) often have an easier time staying engaged and productive when they have specific goals that they’re working towards. If you want to increase remote employee engagement, set aside time to talk to them via chat or a video call. During these conversations, help them identify some specific goals that they can work on accomplishing over the next few weeks or months. After the goal-setting meeting, be sure to schedule a follow-up to check in with the employees and see how they’re progressing toward accomplishing the goals they’ve set for themselves.
6 Get together with the team
Every once in a while, (perhaps every month or every quarter), plan an event for your team and encourage remote workers to join in. If your team members are local, you can arrange for everyone to get together in-person for a team pizza party or an activity like laser tag etc. If your team members are spread out, there are still lots of options to consider. For example, you could host a team movie night and stream a film via Zoom or another video chat app. You can also arrange a game night. There are lots of online games (JackBox games is a great example) that people can join from anywhere in the world. This is a fun way for team members to get to know each other and socialize outside of the typical work setting. In addition to the bigger monthly events, you may think about having a short video call after work, for example, on every Friday to catch up with the team and how has their week been.
7 Reward employees
When an employee achieves a goal or goes beyond expectations, be sure to reward them. In the same way that you would celebrate the accomplishments of someone who works in the office with you, do this for your remote workers too. Give them a shout-out or kudos in the group chat or reward them with an e-gift card to a popular restaurant or coffee shop. In fact, it can be something as small as giving them a high five or note on Slack. Even small things like these can have a big impact, and encourage workers to continue working hard so they, too, can be the recipient of a reward in the future.
8 Show appreciation
Finally, don’t forget to show appreciation for all members of the remote work team. In addition to rewarding those who are going above and beyond, make sure everyone knows that their contributions are valued and that you appreciate their efforts. It’s easy to forget about employee appreciation when parts of your team (or the entire team) work remotely. You can’t just thank folks for their hard work in passing or host a spontaneous lunch for everyone. Showing appreciation might be more challenging for remote workers, but it’s just as important. Taking time to shout out the at-home workers and congratulate them on their hard work goes a long way when it comes to fostering engagement and boosting morale. Even something as simple as sending out a “great work today, everyone” message in the group chat can make a big difference.
Start improving remote employee engagement today
As explored, there are lots of strategies you can use to promote remote employee engagement. If you want to keep members of your remote workforce interested and engaged in their work as well as help them feel like they’re part of the team, even though they’re not physically in the office with you, these are all great tactics to try. If you want to learn more about how you can support your at-home employees, check out some of the other resources we have available on our blog. For example, this post on better remote work is a great one to check out and share with your team.
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