The workplace is evolving. Instead of working simply for a paycheck, the rising generation cares about many more things, including purpose, values, flexibility, and more. Making sure that employees are interested and excited in their work is more important than ever before.
In addition to these changes, remote workforces have become more common. This means you must find new methods to keep employees connected and engaged, especially when workers are located across the map.
Grappling with the needs of today’s more diverse workforce poses another challenge: You must learn to navigate the difficulties of making team members feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated so they can succeed.
Understanding what makes employees tick is the first step in learning how to increase and maintain engagement. So here are seven ways to keep your employees engaged and connected in a remote world.
1. Communicate frequently and effectively.
Communication is key when it comes to remote working. It’s crucial that the whole team has the necessary information to do the job effectively. According to Forbes, companies should use different tools for internal communication depending on the audience. Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams are just a few examples of tools that make it possible to stay connected to employees through virtual meetings, instant messaging and group chats.
It's also vital for companies to be proactive about communicating with their workforce. Too often, leaders will wait for employees to come to them with questions. Instead, leaders should check in with their team regularly and ask if there is anything they can do to provide more support.
2. Create a sense of community.
In all honesty, the remote employee experience can be a lonely one. Many people struggle with the lack of social interaction that typically happens in an office setting. They miss out on a lot of benefits that employees who experience positive work interactions usually get, according to Harvard Business School. The report shows that these employees produce higher-quality work, have improved well-being, and are better able to engage with customers.
But, despite this added challenge, you can foster a sense of community among your remote employees by establishing a “virtual water cooler.”
A virtual water cooler can be used for employees to chat and share what’s going on in their lives. Similarly, you can consider using videoconferencing software to host virtual happy hours.
Another way to build a sense of community is to encourage common interest groups, so employees can bond over hobbies. Additionally, you can consider creating an online book club or organizing occasional team-building activities, such as quizzes or games.
3. Prioritize mental health.
The loneliness of remote work can cause employees to become disengaged and less productive, taking a toll on mental health. It is important to emphasize that the company culture values mental health. Workers should have access to the support they need to be successful and ensure they can thrive.
You can offer mental health resources, such as access to therapy and counseling, to assist employees struggling with emotional issues. Leaders should begin conversations about mental health by offering seminars and talks on emotional well-being.
This can look like setting up a channel on the company's communication software for well-being. There, leaders can encourage employees to talk about mental health and suggest healthy practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
Having a dedicated channel to improving your mental health can help employees feel supported in their well-being journeys.
4. Encourage work-life balance.
One of the benefits of remote work that employees often cite is the flexibility it provides. Although this may be true, it can also lead to employees who may work around the clock. You need to make sure that you are encouraging a firm line between work and personal life. Employees need to take time off regularly so they can rest and recharge.
However, it is important to note that work-life balance is about more than taking a few days off. You should urge employees to take breaks throughout their workday to stretch, move and relax. Plus, you can boost employee engagement by offering flexible work hours.
5. Provide opportunities for professional development.
Millennials, who now make up the largest percentage of the workforce, largely want their work to be meaningful and worthwhile. According to a Gallup poll, 87% of millennials report that professional development and career growth opportunities are very important to them.
Remote working does not prevent employees from participating in professional development. They can still attend webinars and training sessions virtually, regardless of their location.
6. Celebrate achievements.
Employee recognition goes a long way when keeping workers involved. People who believe their work matters are more dedicated to their job. They are also more likely to be loyal to your company. Recognizing a job well done in the office can be second nature. However, remote employees' contributions can often go unnoticed. Make sure that employees feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work.
Show your appreciation for the hard work of your remote workers. Give them a shout-out in a team meeting, send them an encouraging GIF in a team chat, initiate a short video call to thank them and celebrate their achievements, or send them a small gift or gift card!
7. Promote a culture of trust.
It’s essential that you foster a culture of trust in a remote world. You should avoid too much of a hands-on management style and constantly checking in on their workers. Nothing depletes employee engagement quite like micromanaging.
Instead of looking over employees’ shoulders, set clear expectations from the start including work hours, breaks and goals. Make time for regular check-ins, meetings and goal-setting.
Fostering trust in a workforce should include transparency. A company should clearly communicate updates about where it’s headed and who will be affected in certain situations. It is important to be open and direct when sharing news — especially bad news — which makes employees feel trusted and valued.
Keeping your employees engaged is critical for employee retention and company success — especially when dealing with a remote workforce. Follow these tips to keep your employees engaged and connected in a remote world.