5 Tips to Keep Your Remote Workforce Engaged

December 10, 2020

When it comes to engaging your remote workers, your organization has everything to gain by investing in winning strategies.

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In a jarring and unforeseen shift to virtual work and remote teams, organizational leaders are struggling with the best ways to keep themselves and their workers engaged, happy, and healthy. After all, when workers aren’t able to interact face-to-face, how are leaders supposed to maintain a sense of cohesion, unity, community, and support?

While the tactical approaches to engaging a remote (or hybrid) workforce will look different than one in the office, the truth is the fundamental wants and needs for relationship remain the same for your workers.

“Human beings need connection — not only to their coworkers, but also to the organization,” points out Gallup’s Annamarie Mann.

To survive and thrive in today’s environment where more employees are working remotely than ever, the old approach to community and connection must be reimagined. The good news? Today’s HR and payroll solutions are equipped with tons of cutting-edge tools to help ensure their workers don’t feel isolated or disconnected. Below, we take a look at five ways you can keep your remote workforce engaged now and in the future.

1. Create Contests and Challenges

When it comes to well-being, it’s critical for companies to be vigilant about injecting lightness and fun where they can. Give your employees a chance to showcase their personalities and hobbies with a photo contest or trivia challenge via a social collaboration platform. Opportunities like these that are unrelated to work are a welcomed break for each person, but they also help teammates create deeper connections, which help foster collaboration.

“The strain of having to learn practices and tools that remote work can require, the loss of personal connections, and the fear of the future can lead to employee disengagement,” writes Kris Routch of Deloitte. This is why, Routch writes, organizations should take extra care to promote an environment of fun and levity, pointing out that “team members can help one another by proactively checking in and having friendly competitions to partake in activities that promote well-being.”

2. Encourage Continued Learning and Development

The beauty of today’s HR and payroll solutions is that employees needn’t be in a company’s physical office to grow and engage meaningfully with learning and development. And maybe more importantly, learning is critical in keeping employees from becoming disengaged while working from home.

“A key aspect of engagement [among remote workers] is ensuring that employees continue to stretch and grow, and that often involves learning and development,” says Charlie Chung, VP of Business Development and Solutions Consulting at NovoEd, as reported by HR Daily Advisor.

A learning management system (LMS) can give employees the chance to learn on demand at a self-directed or management-directed pace. Businesses are investing in reskilling and upskilling their workforce to keep them agile and productive for the long term. Solutions that enable them to deliver hyper-relevant and timely topics while also integrating progress data into employee records help make this possible.

3. Ramp Up on Feedback

With employees working remotely, it’s easy for silos to form and for transparency to decrease. In fact, research from Gallup shows that fully remote workers are, over a period of six months:

  • 29% less likely to feel they’ve talked about their greatest success with their manager
  • 30% less likely to feel they’ve discussed steps to reach their goals with their manager

“When an employee is in the same office as their manager, it's easier for the manager to see and recognize that team member's successes,” points out Gallup’s Annamarie Mann. “When they are in different locations, however, there are few natural moments to see, let alone praise, good work.”

Therefore, it’s critical to promote and facilitate an open dialogue between managers and employees, as well as among teams. Organizations can start by using tools, like surveys, to get their fingers on the general pulse of their workforce and determine which remote initiatives are working well and which ones aren’t.

“When you’re working with remote teams, full-time real-time feedback is essential to keep everyone in the loop, give the manager a good overview of what’s going on, and provide the employee with tangible information they can use to work on their performance,” he says.

What’s more, today’s HR and payroll solutions make it easy for employees to go beyond the traditional annual or semi-annual reviews, or even traditional 360-reviews, and level-up their performance management capabilities among remote teams. Video and other mobile-friendly solutions enable managers to keep track of employee performance, instruct employees in areas where they need additional help, and more.

4. Facilitate Community Among Employees

Isolation is one of the single biggest challenges when it comes to remote work, especially as more businesses are recognizing the impact of culture and engagement on results. The organizations that succeed with remote teams are those that direct management efforts towards nurturing employee connection and ensuring workers have means through which they feel like part of the larger organization.

“Strong social connections make people happier and physically healthier, which can translate into work performance,” writes Alan Kohll of Forbes. “Employers who support social connections in the workplace and help employees form strong relationships with one another help build a successful workforce.”

For example, peer-to-peer recognition tools can help build a sense of camaraderie and trust among workers, which can boost morale, engagement, loyalty, and more. “Social connection provides a sense of cohesion in the office, which is essential for cultivating creativity, teamwork, and collaboration,” Kohll points out.

Additionally, Kohll recommends creating a “social spot” where employees can decompress and socialize. While designating a physical area isn’t possible with remote teams, a centralized social information hub (think: Facebook) provides a virtual version of such a space where employees can get the latest company news, view video messages from leadership, and interact with one another — which can go a long way in boosting morale.

5. Lean In to Video

Video is a scalable, effective way to reach remote employees, likely because people pay more attention to video and retain more information provided by video than any other medium. In addition to being a sensory “win” with workers, it’s also one of the easiest media to measure in terms of interaction and performance.

Both synchronous and asynchronous video can be integrated into organization-level interactions — in ways that might feel surprising.

For instance, “not all meetings need to be live,” says Prezi’s head of remote communications, Spencer Waldron, as reported by Forbes. “In fact, at least 25% of video meetings should be asynchronous.” And when you do hold live meetings, “Incorporate interactive elements such as polls, discussions and comments from attendees,” recommends Deloitte.

Additionally, video is a core component of learning and development, and can be used to recognize birthdays and work anniversaries and can serve as a personalized tool in performance reviews.

Business Benefits of Employee Engagement

It goes without saying, employee disengagement can hit your organization where it hurts: the bottom line. According to Gallup, replacing an employee could cost up to 150% of his or her annual salary.

However, engaging your employees doesn’t just keep your workers happy and healthy — it can have major business benefits as well. One report revealed that companies with engaged employees outperform companies without engaged employees by 202%. It can promote fewer mistakes, higher customer satisfaction, and lower turnover. It can also help build employee loyalty and your employer brand.

Indeed, when it comes to engaging your remote workers, your organization has every reason to invest in such initiatives.

Ready to jump-start your organization's remote employee engagement strategies? Start by downloading your free copy of Creating a Consumer-Driven Employee Experience, or contact a solutions expert to get a tour of Paylocity in action and determine the best solution for your organization’s unique needs.

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