With today’s tech innovations making it possible to perform daily tasks without coming into the office, more people than ever before are working from home or working remotely. They benefit from improved work/life balance, while employers benefit from saving money on office space (as well as being able to hire the ideal candidate regardless of location).
That said, the remote work trend does present some challenges. If you’re an HR professional, you know how important it is to boost and maintain employee engagement. Workers who are engaged in their roles are more productive, less likely to quit, and more likely to represent the company positively to others.
That’s why you need a plan for keeping engagement high among remote employees. Tactics that work in an office setting may not be effective for workers distributed across several areas.
To ensure your remote workers stay engaged, keep the following tips in mind.
Stay in Touch
It’s been shown that recognizing accomplishments and providing growth opportunities to address weaknesses is key to maintaining engagement among workers.
Obviously, when workers don’t share an office with their supervisors, it can be a challenge to receive the type of regular communication they desire. HR professionals can help address this problem by recommending that managers schedule weekly sessions to discuss each remote employee’s progress. If they don’t have enough time for weekly sessions, monthly sessions will suffice.
Prioritizing regular communication is a simple step to take. That said, if virtual meetings aren’t scheduled every week or month, they can be easy to overlook—and engagement may drop as a result. It’s crucial for managers to treat regular virtual meetings as important work tasks.
Remote employees, though members of the company, can feel estranged or isolated from their colleagues. This, naturally, can have a negative impact on engagement.
That’s why, as an HR pro, you should encourage managers to assign projects that require multiple remote workers to collaborate. Although employees may initially struggle to work together when they don’t share an office, in the long run, overcoming this minor hurdle will make them each feel they are genuine members of a team.
Offer Online Learning
Providing employees with opportunities to grow is an essential component of any engagement-boosting strategy. In traditional office environments, providing growth opportunities typically involves bringing in experts to host in-person training sessions. However, just because remote workers can’t participate in these programs doesn’t mean they don’t want to.
By shifting to online-based training or making use of video conferencing during in-office sessions, you can ensure all workers have opportunities to learn and grow. This helps strengthen engagement among remote members of the office.
Hosting fun company events has long been a common tactic for boosting employee engagement. Studies have shown that workers who have social connections with one another are more likely to feel satisfied in their roles. Additionally, these events can help employees to associate their company with positive feelings and experiences.
However, organizing these events requires a unique approach when many team members operate remotely. To ensure they feel like valued members of the organization, it’s necessary not only to invite them to these events but also to arrange and pay for their travel and lodging (for larger events like conferences). This might mean planning events earlier than usual to budget properly and make all necessary arrangements. While this does involve more work, it will reap rewards in the form of greater engagement.
Employees are more likely to be engaged with their work if they understand the company’s values and culture. Unfortunately, if they don’t work at the office every day, they aren’t exposed to the company’s values and culture on a regular basis.
Thorough onboarding helps address this problem. If it’s possible to bring a remote employee to the office for onboarding, do so. If not, consider how you can strengthen the new hire orientation process to ensure remote workers are thoroughly introduced to the organization. For instance, using new tools such as virtual reality can allow you to provide remote workers with guided “tours” of the office, immersing them in the company culture from the start.
Again, trends indicate more people will continue working remotely as more companies identify the benefits this arrangement offers. Even if your organization doesn’t currently have a remote work policy, it may soon. You need to prepare accordingly by developing a plan for keeping out-of-office workers engaged. Following the advice here will make achieving this goal easier.