In this post-COVID world, many companies now boast perks like hybrid work models and fully remote employees. But what about a robust company culture—especially for remote workers? If this doesn’t top your company’s list of priorities, it may be time to shift focus.
According to a 2022 Job Seeker report from Employ, 55% of employees would leave a new job if the company culture wasn’t aligned with their expectations or values. But there’s more to it than employee retention. The digital transformation of the employee experience can be complex, but it can be improved by doing the smallest things sometimes.
Organizations with a positive and well-defined company culture are more likely to see higher productivity, improved recruitment efforts, and increased employee engagement. In fact, employees who find their company culture to be a positive one, are 3.8 times more likely to be highly engaged at work. So why not try and make the now digital employee experience as great as you can?
If you’re ready to take the next step, here’s how your company can build a strong remote work culture and enhance the overall remote worker employee experience.
Create opportunities for connection & collaboration
Working from home full-time has its benefits, but it can also be lonely and isolating for some. Remote employees lack the opportunities for in-person connection and collaboration that come from working in an office and chatting around the proverbial water cooler. But in this age of digital transformation, remote workers don’t have to miss out. Remote work looks like it's here to stay for a lot of companies, so improving your employee engagement has never been more important. We want everyone's remote work experience to be the best it can be.
There are plenty of ways to virtually engage remote employees—no matter which technologies you’re using or what your budget is. Being part of a remote team doesn't have to mean your teammates feel left out. Here are a few things you can do to create more opportunities for digital connection and collaboration in your workplace:
- Add new, fun channels to your corporate messaging app. One of the easiest (and most cost-effective) ways to level-up your employee engagement is by adding new, fun channels to Slack or Microsoft Teams. Channels like these are a safe space for employees to share things that are meaningful to them outside of work—like their families, pets, and hobbies—and express themselves more openly. Finding connections like these are important for the mental health of your employees too.
- Create clubs or employee interest groups. Clubs and employee interest groups are a great way to bring together like-minded people from across your organization who might not otherwise have a chance to meet or work with one another. Conveniently, many hobbies or interests—like book clubs, whiskey tasting, or knitting—are easy to enjoy and explore in a virtual setting. People like to feel a sense of belonging, so we might as well give them a channel to find that.
- Organize virtual mixers or team-building activities. Making time for remote workers to engage with one another in a fun, casual way is an important part of helping employees collaborate, connect, and establish a healthy work-life balance. And in this new advanced technological age, there are tons of different virtual activities or experiences you can do with your team, like: online games, virtual cooking classes, or interactive escape-the-room style experiences. Don't be afraid to encourage employees to take time to enjoy their personal life.
- Start a virtual buddy program. Virtual buddy programs can be an extremely useful way to help onboard remote workers and introduce them to other employees at your company. But they can also help employees find mentors at the company, learn about a different function, or connect with another team member who may work in a different global office.
Support career advancement & professional growth
Creating a strong remote company culture is about cultivating a sense of community. But helping employees envision a future at your organization is just as important. In fact, a Pew Research Center survey found that 63% of employees who quit a job in 2021 cited lack of advancement opportunities as the driving reason.
Supporting career advancement and professional growth isn’t just about promotions, either. It’s about expressing a genuine interest in your employees’ goals and ambitions and being able to provide them with the resources they need to get there. Mentioning career and overall growth opportunities within the company should start in your recruitment and onboarding processes. Keeping this conversation going will help to improve retention in the long term.
If you’re looking to improve the way your organization supports remote workers in their professional growth, consider these three steps:
- Schedule regular check-ins and performance evaluations. Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings and performance evaluations with remote employees is a good way to start an open dialogue around their career goals and any key performance indicators they should be targeting. Also, setting up a cadence of formal and informal performance evaluations provides helpful checkpoints and much-needed feedback so that employees can assess their progress throughout the year.
- Highlight internal job postings. Many companies have internal job boards, but it’s easy for these roles to go unnoticed. By drawing more attention to these internal job postings, you can create more opportunities for movement and internal growth within the organization. Not to mention, you can also boost retention by helping employees find new roles inside your company instead of somewhere else.
- Provide education assistance and online learning opportunities. More and more companies are prioritizing professional development by offering benefits like education assistance—or tuition reimbursement—and online learning opportunities. This is a great way to help employees advance their skillsets and empower them in their career advancement journeys.
It takes real effort to show your support for remote employees and their professional growth. But the more proactive you are, the more engaged employees will be in the company.
Celebrate & recognize employee successes
Everyone likes to receive recognition for a job well done, even if there’s no reward or incentive attached to it. Taking the time to acknowledge someone’s achievement can boost their morale, confidence, and even their performance. And according to research from Quantum Workplace, companies with formal employee recognition programs have as much as 31% less voluntary turnover than companies without one.
But creating a real culture of appreciation takes more than just a few “employee of the month” awards; it requires a company-wide shift in perspective. So, how do you do it? Try implementing some of these strategies:
- Create new messaging channels for peer-to-peer recognition. Creating new employee recognition channels on Slack or Microsoft Teams will help encourage employees to engage with one another and offer kudos. It will also provide employees and managers with more visibility into the work that other people are doing—leading to a more supportive and transparent company culture.
- Celebrate small wins and milestones. To build a true culture of appreciation, you need to embrace the philosophy that no achievement or milestone is too small to celebrate. Doing this on a regular basis can reinvigorate employees’ excitement about the work they’re doing and the team they’re a part of.
- Encourage employees to take a break. A healthy work-life balance is critical, especially for remote employees. So, try to recognize when employees need a break and show your appreciation by encouraging them to take some much-needed time off. Employees want to feel like they don't have to extend their work hours every day to be noticed and need to feel like they can have a healthy work-life balance.
When it comes to employee recognition, it’s also important to remember that words of gratitude and appreciation aren’t what matter most; it’s the intention behind those words and the desire to help your team feel valued that’s most meaningful for employees. Maya Angelou put it best when she said, “people will forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”
Everyone within an organization plays a part in creating a great company culture. But a whopping 83% of employees agree that company leaders are responsible for shaping it. Why? Because leaders and managers are the ones who empower, enforce, and set the example for their teams.
Without leadership buy-in, it’s difficult to align everyone within an organization to a core set of values and practices—especially if your workforce is largely remote. When it comes to engaging company leaders and managers, remember to:
- Communicate often about company values, upcoming events, employee feedback, and ways to increase engagement.
- Schedule regular leadership meetings to answer questions and present new employee engagement initiatives.
- Deliver clear goals & objectives for leaders around how and when they should be connecting with employees.
- Invite leaders and managers to training sessions, club meetings, and other company events to increase visibility and get them engaged in the company culture.
Company leaders are great role models for how employees should respect, support, and engage with one another. But company leaders are also incredibly busy. So, don’t be afraid to send reminders, share calendar invitations, and help guide them towards becoming more active participants in the remote work culture. Encourage your employees to meet with you and your senior leaders for potential growth opportunities. Employees feel more connected to the company when the senior leaders aren't just seen as figure heads, but as people just like them.
Building a strong remote work culture is a difficult task that’s never truly finished. There are always new ways to grow, improve, and adapt to changing circumstances and employee needs. But thanks to the technology transformation world that we live in, there are plenty of technologies and solutions that make it easier to engage remote employees and improve the remote worker employee experience.
When you’re ready to change up your remote work culture and level-up your remote worker employee engagement, ask us how we can help.