5 Employee Engagement Tactics for Remote Employees
When you have employees in your office, it’s easy to check in on them frequently and see how they are feeling and if they are engaged in their work. When you have remote workers, measuring employee engagement can be more complicated due to the barriers of not seeing them every day. Even though work from home jobs can provide a lot of job satisfaction because it decreases stress associated with a traditional office job, that shouldn’t be the only thing keeping employees happy and engaged. If you manage a remote team, there are some things to consider to boost employee engagement.
1. Open the Lines of Communication
While you may be tempted to let your remote employees operate independently, you shouldn’t leave them all alone. Working at home can be great for increased productivity, but it can cause feelings of loneliness too. Make an effort to stay in touch with your remote employees and talk to them about topics outside of work. While you don’t need to be contacting them and chatting every hour of the day, you should still try to take a moment each day, even if it’s a “good morning” instant message to check-in.
Additionally, it’s important to be transparent about what’s happening in the business and inform your remote employees about any changes. If you also have employees in an office with you, there may be information they are getting that can be forgotten to pass on to remote employees. Keeping those employees in the loop will keep them feeling connected to the business. You also want to make sure they are hearing important information from you, as their manager, rather than from their co-workers, in case anything gets lost in a game of telephone.
2. Recognize Accomplishments and Celebrate Special Occasions
One of the biggest ways to boost employee engagement is to show your employees that you recognize and respect the work they do for your business. It’s important to show appreciation and recognize employee accomplishments, whether you’re focusing on the small wins that happen day to day, or crushing it on a major project. When employees are working remotely it can be hard for others to see the work they are producing for your business and know what they are working on. Make sure to give call outs, whether individually to your employee, or in front of the whole team. Even if you have a handful of employees, starting an employee recognition program can be huge for your team, including your remote employees.
Additionally, it’s important to celebrate special occasions, such as work anniversaries or birthdays. This happens frequently with office teams as people will bring in donuts, cakes, pizza, or other goodies to celebrate each other. When your team is remote, bringing in pizza isn’t going to work, so you need other ways. You can mail a personal card (yes, people still like snail mail), get the whole team involved, or create a fun e-card. There are also options to send gifts or arrange to have their favorite takeout delivered at home thanks to the magic of today’s food delivery options. Just because you aren’t celebrating in person, doesn’t mean you can skip over the celebrations entirely.
3. Clarify Goals and Work Produced
It can be challenging to get work done when there are no goals set. Additionally, without goals, it’s hard to track job performance and effectiveness. It’s frustrating to feel like you’re spinning your tires without getting anywhere, which is why it’s important to chat with remote employees about what their specific job goals are. Explaining how their work ties into larger company goals can also boost engagement as they will be able to see how their work matters. At the same time, the beauty of remote work is that it’s more acceptable for work to be flexible and not held to such regimented office structures. While you want employees to be productive, you also don’t want to micromanage and diminish the perks of a remote job. Focus on the work that is produced, and create goals around that, rather than when the work is getting done.
4. Help Manage Work/Life Balance
The work/life balance lines can get blurred with a work at home job because it can be challenging to separate work tasks from personal tasks, and know when to shut down for the day because we are generally all glued to screens the majority of the day, and will know when notifications are going off. Helping your remote employees achieve work/life balance can be great for boosting their engagement. Setting rules that you, or other employees, won’t reach out before or after a certain time of day can help in setting boundaries. Additionally, encourage them to take breaks and keep work out of the way on a weekend can give them the time they need to recharge their batteries and avoid burnout.
5. Schedule Face to Face Time
Even if you’re in different time zones, you can still schedule some face to face time with your remote employees. With technology like Skype or WebEx, seeing the other person is super easy. If you live close to these employees, you can also arrange a weekly coffee meeting or get together for lunch and connect. Similar to the point about loneliness earlier, having those face to face interactions, whether through a screen or in person, can boost engagement and bonds.
Managing remote workers comes with some extra considerations, but it’s totally possible to manage an engaged team of remote employees. Employee engagement is going to mean different things to each of your employees, so if you’re at a loss at how things are going, create a simple employee engagement survey to get their feedback on how you’re doing and ways to improve. At the end of the day, engaged employees lead to increased business outcomes, which is a win-win for everyone involved.