There’s no shortage of employee engagement practices. Comprehensive programs that drive engagement have fueled entire industries and fostered fierce competition among companies seeking to attract and retain leading talent. The rapidly evolving employment landscape, however, has created the need for a thorough reevaluation of employee engagement practices. Workers have gone home and stayed there, enjoying more freedom than ever. Employers, accordingly, have had to get creative in order to keep their remote teams engaged.
Try these remote employee engagement practices
With the recent mass migration of employees to remote workplaces, has the definition of good employee engagement changed? Or does it need to be reconsidered for remote-first workplaces? Without the advantage of in-person contact, managers can have a difficult time holding their employees’ collective attention. To prevent your remote employees from feeling isolated or disengaged from their team, consider the following tips.
1. Let employees guide you
Employee engagement practices that are conceived without the thoughtful input and guidance from your employees are poised to fail. Well-intentioned initiatives easily fall flat when they aren’t developed and executed in alignment with your team’s wants and needs. To find out what those are, have your team be your guide. Knowing what your employees want from their workplace will help you more successfully engage with them collectively and on an individual basis.
2. Create shared goals
People’s natural desire to develop a sense of community is an engine that you can put to use. Identify goals to achieve as a team and, to spice things up, make a game of it by rewarding points your employees can redeem for gifts, awards, prestige — whatever motivates and inspires quality work. Being on a team and engaging in healthy competition fosters productivity. In fact, 90 percent of employees credit gamification with making them more productive at work. Game on!
3. Celebrate milestones loudly
Birthdays, anniversaries, and any other events or achievements that may warrant a shoutout ought to get one. Not only can announcements of good news create a more lively and positive atmosphere, but celebrating team members on a personal level goes a long way in boosting morale. Bear in mind that an employee’s first day is a milestone for them — having your whole team treat that employee’s first day the same way will help make that new hire an engaged employee.
4. Call all hands on deck
Regular team meetings are unsurprisingly a crucial employee engagement practice for remote workforces. Bi-weekly, weekly, or semi-weekly video powwows are a great forum for recognizing outstanding work amongst team members to spur engagement. Encourage your employees to give shoutouts to teammates, without advance notice or preparation, for quality work or just for showing up and giving it their best shot every day. Contributions stay voluntary, so team members don’t feel pressure to share if they don’t wish.
5. Foster a mentorship program
Mentors in the virtual workplace provide managers with an effective tool for engaging employees during stressful job orientations. New hires may hesitate to request a manager’s time for clarification about procedural details or other granular matters. Mentors can bridge that gap by aiding those fresh team members with their more minute concerns, forging lasting relationships with their mentees. This provides the added benefit of fueling employee engagement through on-the-job training and team member bonding.
6. Encourage boards and clubs
Work can’t always be about work. Establishing channels for your team members to be social with each other is key to driving engagement. A virtual book club is an example of this kind of channel, as are digital bulletin boards where teammates can upload or “pin” photos of their families, pets, hobbies, and so on. The interplay that these lines of communication inspire will open doors for your employees to discover things about each other, deepening their engagement with friendship.
7. Converse in real-time
Video calling and conferencing have progressed to a point where the nuances of conversations are not altogether lost in technological translation — rejoice! With the power of real-time communication that simulates the face-to-face encounters of yore, you can keep engagement high by listening to your team for insight into their motivations, values, concerns, et cetera. Use that intelligence to craft better employee engagement practices for your whole team, sparking more conversation and revealing further insight.
8. Use surveys sparingly
Although some surveying may be necessary, the familiar technique can seem invasive and out of touch. Employee surveys can yield results that are hopelessly imprecise or, much worse, wildly misleading. Often distributed periodically to employees who are required to complete them before waiting another year to repeat the process, surveys are usually blunt devices serving a limited purpose. Opt for real-time question-answer sessions if you want the structure of a survey. Avoid employing these dull tools where possible.
Finding the best employee engagement practices for your team may take some trial and error, but the effort will prove well worth the sweat. An engaged workforce is a productive one, and a productive workforce will drive even more engagement for your new hires, fueling a healthy cycle of productive engagement.
For more tips on keeping your team engaged, download Mainstay’s guide to texting employees.