Employee engagement was an issue pre-pandemic. And that hasn’t changed with the rise of the distributed workforce. If anything, it’s gotten worse with the lack of face-to-face contact with colleagues.
Read on to learn the importance of an engaged workforce and various tactics for remote employee engagement.
The importance of keeping your remote workforce engaged
The benefits of employee engagement are well-documented—improved financial performance, lower employee turnover, increased productivity, and job satisfaction, to name a few. Simply put, this means the more engaged employees are at the workplace, the more committed they are to the business.
Customers also benefit from engaged employees. Employees are more likely to go above and beyond for customers because they feel invested in the workplace.
With the remote workforce, it’s no different.
How to engage your remote employees: 9 practical ways
Here are nine ideas for keeping your remote employees engaged and make your distributed workforce feel like part of the team.
1. Have a structured process to onboard new employees
Onboarding new remote employees is an important process. And when done correctly, employees hit the ground running and quickly assimilate into the company culture. To ensure your new employees are properly onboarded, make sure you do the following:
- Provide the new hire with equipment, swag, and orientation material: Ensure that the equipment needed by the new hire is provided to them in time for them to resume their duties. Have your IT department assist them with equipment set up, lessons on how to use remote work tools, access to documents, and log-in credentials. Also, provide a care package for them as well as necessary material/links explaining company culture.
- Set up a proper orientation: While it helps, you don’t have to have a formalized onboarding program to make your new hires feel welcome. A good place to start is to set up a Zoom meeting with the new employee and their manager to discuss company culture and introduce them to your way of working.
- Meeting with HR to sign paperwork: Set up a meeting for the employee with HR to fill and sign the necessary paperwork.
- Schedule virtual team introduction meets: Encourage the new employee to set up 15-minute introduction meetings with the rest of the team.
2. Host virtual happy hours
Virtual happy hours are a great way to break down the barriers of remote work. This could be as simple as virtual lunch hours where everyone comes online to have lunch together. Or it could be a Friday after-work hours dinner.
It sounds simple, but it’s a highly effective way to build team chemistry, boost team morale, and increase the bonds between colleagues.
Also, take note of birthdays and important dates in your employees’ lives and turn these into virtual celebration moments with the rest of the team.
3. Recognize employees for work done
Social recognition can be a significant incentive for a remote workforce.
You can create a space during team meetings to share recognitions or appreciations, or take the time to call out a team member’s job well done over email or in a public Slack channel. These gestures make employees feel valued, which is an essential component of a happy, engaged workforce.
4. Check-in regularly
Creating open feedback loops is critical in a distributed work environment, but it can be more challenging to accomplish than in a physical office. Because there’s no watercooler to gather around and it’s more difficult to news to move through the office grapevine, you must take extra care to foster communication in a remote environment.
Monthly one-on-one meetings, weekly standups, and informal Slack conversations are a great way to keep employees updated, provide feedback, and resolve any issues that might be holding employees back from bringing their best selves to work.
5. Encourage exercise and wellness
A healthy employee is a productive and engaged one.
Incentivize wellness programs that get employees moving, exercising, and partaking in some healthy habits. This not only guarantees their long-term health, but shows you’re invested in their overall well-being.
For example, you could give employees an allowance for a gym subscription, cover the cost of setting up a basic home gym, or work with a third party provider to supply wellness benefits. Another options is to gamify physical activity and set up reward programs where employees can redeem rewards based on their activity.
6. Provide all the tools needed for your employees to thrive
People leaders have previously designed offices to be the best possible working environment for employees.
But with a remote workforce, you’ll need to be a tad more deliberate. You should plan to provide employees with a monthly stipend to cover the costs of a co-working space, and funds to set up an adequate office space complete with the furniture and tools required to carry out their tasks seamlessly.
7. Offer flexible work hours
A distributed workforce means team members in different time zones. This means not everyone will be active at the same time.
Recognize this and allow remote employees to work according to schedules that suit their location. Such flexibility reduces the stress levels of team members and ensures they are more efficient.
Even if your employees all live in the same time zone, allowing them to work at hours most convenient to them—as long as the work is done—ensures they are more productive and satisfied on the job.
8. Offer hybrid work options
Some employees still prefer a hybrid work model that allows them to split their hours on and offsite.
This allows them to enjoy the flexible working hours at home and enjoy their team members' company in the office. Hybrid roles also assist those struggling with the isolation of remote work by providing a location where they can get face-to-face contact with their colleagues.
9. Offer training opportunities
Online training programs are an excellent way to keep employees engaged and committed.
There are dozens of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that businesses can purchase for their employees. Plus, the company gets a bulk discount. All your employees need are a computer and internet connection.
You can also purchase an online knowledge management center and provide a variety of training courses to your employees. Or you can offer a training stipend for employees who would prefer to take external courses.
What’s the best way to keep your remote workforce engaged?
Easy, ask them!
When you ask employees for their opinion, they are more likely to feel involved and motivated to do their best work. You can request feedback on anything, including:
- Input in workflows and projects
- Company culture
- Opinions on leadership team and style
- Tips on how to keep them engaged or improve the company culture
You can do this through surveys, polls, town hall meetings, or one-on-one video calls. But it doesn’t end there. Ensure you share the results of these surveys with remote employees and make a concerted effort to act on their suggestions or concerns.
With practical engagement tactics, your remote workforce can be more productive, committed, and motivated than ever before. An excellent place to start to set the pace is your hiring and onboarding process.
Undoubtedly, your people leaders play a role in setting the tone for recruitment. But you can argue that technology probably plays a similar role when recruiting international employees. It lays the gauntlet for new employees by making the hiring and onboarding process seamless and enjoyable.
Want to know the key to an engaging employee benefit program? We’ve got the answer in this blog post.
Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving global workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.
Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.