As COVID has forced a shift from in-office work to mostly being remote, companies are forced to change not only the way they conduct work and how they schedule meetings, but also how to keep employees engaged and excited.
Remote work poses a brand-new obstacle to many companies, especially those that did not have work from home systems in place until now.
Many companies try to go the extra mile to attract competitive and devoted employees. Once succeeding in attracting these top-tier employees, it is so important to work to keep them engaged and keep that excitement up.
Without that, the employees you were so proud to bring on will begin to feel burnt-out or unmotivated. Work from home makes that even more difficult, since there is not a space where your company will all be together.
There are many positives to remote work. Especially in these times, employees may have children going to school through online learning, requiring them to be home anyways.
Allowing for employees to work from home can save them a lot of stress and money, especially during these times. But it is not always easy for employees to feel engaged in their work when they are not in the office environment.
Workplace environment often helps build a sense of community and togetherness, while allowing colleagues to expand their skills and grow their interest and devotion to the company.
In this article, we will go over some of the ways in which you can keep the level of engagement of your employees up and keep them healthy and happy, with some advice from those in the fields working to overcome that obstacle.
The Importance of Keeping Your Employees Engaged
Keeping your employees engaged is important to any company, not only for the sake of their happiness, but for the sake of the company. Companies with high employee engagement find that it actually boosts productivity.
If employees are invested in their roles and the work they are doing, they will be more productive than those who are not engaged. Employee engagement also enhances a company’s culture.
If employees are invested in their work and enjoy what they are doing, then chances are they’re going to engage in the company culture more than those who do not enjoy the work they are doing.
Enhancing company culture in turn, retains the best employees.
Those who are truly happy where they are working, those learning new skills, feeling proud of their work and engaging with each other will not want to leave and look for another company.
Keeping your employees engaged is important and many companies have this mastered, but with many offices switching to fully remote or a hybrid setting presents a new obstacle in employee engagement and satisfaction.
Keep a Sense of Normalcy
A huge part of employee engagement and company culture results from the community in the office. Bonding with your team often happens as you’re on a coffee break or helping each other through a task.
With most employees now working from home, the conversations and in person interactions have completely been eliminated. Here are some ways that employers are trying to simulate an in-office experience with employees working from home.
Tal Brodsky is part of the founding team at Thriver, overseeing the company’s business strategy. He has a background in Marketing and Psychology, Tal works to ensure that Thriver’s solutions foster employee engagement and create a strong workplace culture.
With employees transitioning to work from home, Tal has found a new way to engage Thriver’s employees.
“We offer a range of virtual activities that are being used by businesses throughout North America to help team members connect and develop professionally.
These range from lighthearted team building activities such as cooking competitions or coffee tastings with professional baristas, to strategically timed health and wellness activities to break up the day, to workshop series that support their physical and psychological wellbeing.”
By keeping virtual meetings on the schedule and having company events online is important in keeping in a sense of normalcy, as though people are still working with their colleagues.
Without being in the office, some people may start to feel extremely isolated. Thriver focuses on team building through group activities. Even though they are remote, it helps keep up communication and collaboration between employees.
Kristian Rasmussen, CEO at Ultify believes it is important to create and maintain a virtual office. Ultify, like many other companies, have decided to transition to fully remote permanently.
Rasmussen has three main values that are helping her company transition to remote: Creating a virtual office, providing support for equipment and other necessities, and making sure every employee feels heard and valued.
“While it is impossible to expect everyone to be available 24/7, knowing that they can reach out to their colleagues and stay in touch through digital communication helps virtual workers feel more connected. Webinars have become part of our daily routine.”
The webinars consist of both listening to employee’s feedback and providing guidance on work and taking time just to talk. These webinars are meant to bond employers and employees, making sure they are comfortable asking questions, or voicing concerns.
She also mentions the importance of making it clear that you are always available for a one-on-one and are always approachable.
Thanh Hoang, Marketing Manager at Savincom, believes that creating an environment suitable working from home is extremely important. So, how does he make this work? “Communication, communication, and constant communication.”
“The key is, always communicate with your colleagues to avoid zoning yourself out on the laptop, stay effective and get the vibe of being actually in the office.” Hoang also “always puts down clear, achievable goals so that [he] knows that [he] needs to do and try to cross them all out at the end of the day.”
Hoang believes that what makes working from home so effective, is making your home feel as much like the office as you possibly could. Making a list of tasks to complete in a day to try to stay on schedule helps keep a sort of boundaries that you may be missing working from home.
Peer to peer feedback and collaboration are essential in keeping your employees engaged and not feeling isolated. Many companies have increased their online groups to make it easy for colleagues to communicate and check-in frequently.
Check in on Your Employees’ Mental Health
Another very important part of keeping your remote employees engaged is checking in on their mental health.
The pandemic has brought a level of stress and uncertainty that many have not felt in a workplace to this extent. That already imposes a strain on mental health, but with employees working from home, they may be feeling more isolated than ever. Companies should task the mental health of their employees as a top priority.
Advanced is the UK’s third largest software company and have adapted their ways of working to keep employees engaged and to ensure their mental health is okay whilst working from home.
Nick Gallimore, the Head of Talent at Advanced tells us about the prioritization of mental health of their employees.
“The most significant impact we’ve seen from technology is the impact of video.
Pre-coronavirus, most of our meetings were held in person and the sudden switch to remote working left many employees telling us their mental health was being impacted and they felt isolated.”
Advanced implemented a camera-on policy which requires all employees in a meeting to keep their cameras on. This makes employees feel more connected to their colleagues, even though they are not in the office.
In addition to these frequent meetings, Advanced has created an area called The Lounge, an online social space for the sharing of resources and general conversation outside of work.
Simon Dwight Keller agrees with Gallimore in seeing the importance of employees’ mental and physical health
“Happy employees create positive and productive work environments. We are trying to create a culture where everyone can thrive while working together toward a common goal.
Institutionalizing a program to provide confidential counseling services to help our team members work their way through challenges relating to work, family, stress, finances, and other personal issues are the first essential step in that direction.”
Creating this environment may be harder with work from home, it is just as important as ever.
Enable Your Employees to Grow
The company as a whole should be committed to the happiness and engagement of its employees.
A large part of this is encouraging employees to grow. You really do not want your employees to only think they are working for a paycheck.
A company should care about the growth of their employees and bolster creativity and expanding their knowledge. Some companies are finding that even more important now that employees are working from home.
Lewis Keegan, Owner and Operator of SkillScouter.com finds that one of the most important parts of keeping your remote employees engaged is allowing them to get that growth opportunity that they might miss if not in the office.
Much growth in employees happens with connections to colleagues and maybe jumping on a project that wouldn’t be designated to you specifically. Keegan fights this by making sure that all tasks are properly segregated.
“Avoid giving some employees too much work that leaves none for the others. Keep all employees engaged in the work so that the distribution of labor is equal, and you will not encounter any leadership issues such as when other employees start to think that you are having favorites.”
Giving your employees structure and enough tasks to take up the time in a workday is crucial. To feel engaged and as if they are working like they did in the office, employees need to have projects to work on.
Laurie Wilkins is owner and editor for a blog called Call Outdoors, which conveys their love for the outdoors to others.
When starting her business, Wilkins received an important piece of advice:
“Your staff are your most valuable resource. Invest in them.”
This is something that she has worked on throughout her career and as a business owner, but with COVID taking the stage, Wilkins has made this a cornerstone of her business. She tries to do this in two ways:
“The first is by allowing my team time off to study through Udemy, or other online learning platforms similar.
In general, each member of the team is given one day, every two weeks, to study a course of their choosing.
We also assist in supplementing the cost of these courses, where needed. The team is not obligated to study anything directly related to their field, so that they can begin to grow in all aspects of their lives.
I’ve noticed that the change to the new normal has affected everyone differently and some are looking to new hobbies or industries – I want to assist my team in growing their strengths, no matter what form that might take.
The second method is somewhat strange but has proven to be effective. When we work on new projects in either business unit, we offer some tasks to both teams (specialized work still given to specialists).
In this way, we keep the work different and allow the team to take a break from what can become a mundane routine. One member of my development team, Shane, loves fishing and since this is one of the big focal points of the Call Outdoors blog, he picks up a product/ lodge review every now and again.
Both methods have proven success for us since we implemented them – especially the study.”
Allowing your employees to step away from working strictly on projects they are normally assigned allows employees to bring in a new perspective and innovation to something they wouldn’t have been a part of it otherwise.
Tina Nikolvska, Founder of TeamStage believes that the most important part of keeping any employees engaged, especially remote employees, starts with a dynamic onboarding.
A dynamic onboarding will make your remote feel more included and appreciated from day one. By hooking new employees with an exciting first few days, it will be easier to keep employees engaged because they will feel as though they matter in the company, and they will have a lot to offer.
TeamStage does this by creating a fun personal questionnaire that asks employees about their personal preferences and introduce them to other employees that have the same interests. Surveying your employees both about their job and their personal lives is a great step in elevating their experience at the company. After a dynamic onboarding, Nikolvska and company managers have implemented a program that provides different learning opportunities for employees.
“In our experience, providing learning opportunities to remote employees keeps them genuinely engaged. With tailored programs, we aim at finding out the areas where employees want to expand their expertise and provide them with either in-house mentoring or external classes.
Not only do we provide these opportunities, but we also make them a part of their working hours, so they don’t feel overburdened.”
In addition to offering alternative learning opportunities, Nikolvska makes it a priority to make all employees feel heard.
“Have regular one-on-ones to determine employee satisfaction and decide on the career path. Doing the same job every day isolated from your colleagues’ company can start feeling like a dead-end to employees with fewer strategies and more operational tasks.”
In her view, regularly checking on employees one-on-one is important to make them feel comfortable talking to you and addressing concerns that they bring up. With work from home, this takes a little more effort but it is well worth it!
If you are still wondering how to best implement policies and structures to make sure your remote employees feel included and engaged, give us a call!
Try taking one of our programs at M ACCELERATOR online from Los Angeles. We create and offer training programs for employees that are interested in unlocking creativity through developing presentation skills, project/business acuity, and developing an entrepreneurship approach in a company. Contact us: email@example.com