To be successful, a company must have a high employee engagement. In fact, it is a fact that retaining good talent is more difficult than hiring them.
After the Coronavirus pandemic, when most of the workforce has adopted remote work culture, it has become a real struggle to keep the remote employees engaged.
If we go with the statistics, then an average employee has been working 3 extra hours since the outbreak of the pandemic. And this sudden shift in work culture had a big impact on the health of the employees. It has been reported that around 75% of the employees are feeling more isolated, 57% of the employees are feeling anxious, and 53% of them are exhausted mentally.
Today, remote working culture has forced us to reimagine employee engagement and this is what we are talking about in this article.
What is remote employee engagement?
In layman’s terms, remote employee engagement is the process that is adopted by many organizations to keep their employees connected and motivated while they are working remotely from their homes.
Employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment that an employee has towards his organization and its goals. If your remote employees are completely engaged then they would not simply work only for a promotion or a paycheck. Instead, they would really care for the company and work towards its goals.
Why is remote employee engagement important for an organization?
Productivity- If your remote employees are engaged in an organization they would be more productive than the other disengaged employees. Engagement makes an employee more invested in his task.
Better service- Ultimately the goal of an organization is to do excellent in their fields and when there is high employee engagement, employees put in extra effort in achieving the goals of the organization.
Loyalty- The more robust the employee engagement culture is, the higher is the retention rate of employees in an organization. On the other side, a disengaged employee will always look for other alternatives.
What are the effective ideas for improving remote employee engagement?
1. Invitation to Play Multiplayer Games
Give your remote workers an opportunity to unwind and relax by inviting them to a multiplayer game. The employee engagement ideas for your remote workers do not have to be boring or limited to work. You can try some fun games with your team and this will also build up good communication between your team members who otherwise do not get a chance to interact with each other. There are many multiplayer games that you can choose for remote employee engagement and for that you just need a mobile device. Some of the popular multiplayer games for engaging your team are Words with Friends, Call of Duty, Heads Up, Minecraft, and Crossy Road. You can also ask your employees if they want to play any specific game and if that game gets enough votes, add it to the list.
2. Virtual Murder Mystery
Doing team-building activities with remote employees is a tough job to do. Stuck at home, your employees might be bored out of their minds and this can have a big impact on their productivity also. Virtual Murder Mystery is the best game for remote employees engagement. Other than this, these mystery games also help in enhancing your employees’ social skills and decision-making skills. We recommend you take inspiration from some popular murder mystery challenges and host your own virtual murder mystery day with your team.
3. Virtual Rewards and Recognition
This creative idea for remote employees’ engagement is very helpful in improving the satisfaction levels among remote workers. Today, your employees are working remotely, still, they need to be appreciated for their contribution to the organization. Not recognizing your team for their extra efforts can make them detached and disengaged from the organization.
Thus, make sure you keep this initiative of virtual rewards and recognition in your organization going on. You can simply thank your employees on a video call or ask your whole team to applaud in virtual meetings for someone who has reached a milestone. For rewards, you can always opt for gift cards and reward points that your employees can use for shopping.
4. Learn together
You can host virtual meetings with the founder or executive team so your remote working employees get a chance to know the company heads at a personal level. This would build their confidence in their organization. Other than this, you can also make your team participate in a special insight program to get to know more about everyone’s strengths and those areas where they need some improvement. Carve out a hack day for your employees. On that day, your team members can leave their usual tasks and work together on an innovative project.
5. Theme Days
Working remotely for employees in their homes can be mundane. One day blending into the other with no excitement of going to the office. Theme-based days are the best way to distract your remote employees from their busy work schedules. It adds a fun aspect and excitement to the boring lives of your employees. You can go as creative as you want in planning these themed days. Your team can dress like their favorite characters, they can show their pets to the whole team at zoom calls, and some employees can also give a virtual tour of their home office set up to their team members in virtual meetings.
6. Allocate funds for remote employees to set up their home office
Providing workstations to your remote employees is not at all feasible for you. However, you can allocate some extra funds to help them set up their home offices. People who have been working remotely for years do not face this problem, but employees who are accustomed to an office environment and working remotely since the Covid outbreak might face some difficulty in adjusting to their work-from-home routine.
Your employees will appreciate your effort in helping them build their home offices from scratch and giving them the same type of office environment that they were missing for a long time.
7. Virtual coffee breaks
While employees were working in the offices, coffee breaks were always spontaneous. Taking short coffee breaks from work and meeting up with fellow colleagues is an effective way for boosting employee engagement and productivity.
Implementing virtual coffee breaks becomes more important when your employees are working remotely. You can host these virtual coffee breaks by using some advanced virtual tour software that will allow you to take a tour of virtual space in 360 degrees. You can create a virtual coffee house with this type of software where your remote working employees can come together for some small talks over a cup of coffee. This way, they can communicate with other members of the team and get to know them better.
Following are some useful tips to make this virtual coffee breaks a success:
- If you have larger teams, you can break your virtual coffee break groups into smaller batches so that each team member can be heard
- Establish some ground rules for your virtual coffee breaks such as no phones or checking messages, and punctuality
- Keep the schedule of your virtual coffee breaks regular and predictable be it happens once a day or once a week
8. Virtual water cooler space
Earlier when we used to work in the offices, there would be a chance to meet our colleagues by the water coolers and engage in some small talk. “Water cooler talk” is a popular term that is used to describe casual talks about non-work-related topics between co-workers. This is what is missing from today’s virtual office spaces.
In any company culture, personal interactions among the employees make work meaningful and enjoyable. Through these small talks only, the team members get a chance to know their team members better. This is why introducing water cooler space in virtual office space is important.
How to do it? You can create a dedicated virtual water cooler space on messaging chats you use like Slack. Simply name it #watercoolerchat and encourage your employees to come there and share some non-related work things.
9. Do not host unnecessary team meetings
As the work culture is transitioning towards a remote work culture, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in virtual meetings. This is mostly happening because the organizations are trying to compensate for the lack of face-to-face conversations that used to be an important part of regular work-life.
However, organizing unnecessary virtual meetings can be harmful to already overworked and anxious employees. These virtual meetings can also negatively affect the engagement of employees.
Team-wide emails can easily replace these virtual office meetings and for important virtual conferences that can not be neglected, always remember to keep a set time and include only those people who are vital in the meeting.
10. Keep a check on your employees’ mental health
While physical health was the greatest worry in Covid times, mental health also took a downhill turn during those times. Working remotely along with the stress and anxiety about all the things happening in the world during Covid times can be challenging for anyone. It can make a drastic impact on a person’s mental health and his ability to perform well.
Unless your employees are mentally well, any type of virtual employee engagement activities will not do any good for them. Ensuring your remote employees are in good mental space is very important if you want your job to be done without any issues.
Take a step in this direction and invite a mental health professional for a company-wide seminar. You can also hire an office counselor and allow day-offs dedicated to mental health.
What are the challenges of remote employee engagement?
If you think that the remote work culture is negatively impacting your organization then I guess it is the right time to look out for the disengaged employees and make the necessary changes to keep them engaged and motivated.
Watch out for the following signs of disengaged employees to keep your workforce intact while working remotely:
- Irregularity at work- If any of your employees are consistently ignoring pressing deadlines and targets and requesting days off, they are clearly disengaged. You can have a one-to-one meeting with them to understand the core of the issue.
- No interest in team-building activities- Look out for your employees’ level of engagement in any team-building activity. A disengaged employee is one who often makes an excuse for not attending these activities. You can explain to them the importance of these team-building activities and also provide attractive perks to those participating.
- Lack of communication- Communication plays an important role in bringing the team together, especially when the employees are working remotely. Few signs in a disengaged employee can be staying quiet during work calls, missing out on important information, or not showing any interest in sharing his ideas or problems with the team. In this case, it becomes very important that you as a senior in the company build trust with your remote employee.
- No zeal to shine- Grabbing an opportunity and seizing it with innovation is the sign of an engaged employee. While on the other side, a disengaged employee does not care much about the work and does not show any zeal to lead a project. Here, you can acknowledge the efforts of your employees and make them feel that they are being heard.
- Declining work quality- It is very common to make mistakes in work, however, making those mistakes that can be easily avoidable are the signs of disengagement in an employee. Make sure to check if this inefficiency in work is not due to insufficient resources or unrealistic targets from you.
- Tired and exhausted all the time- Now when everyone is working from home, there is added work pressure of managing children, doing household chores and etc. there is just too much on the plate of remote employees that they do not get enough time to settle in with a new routine. This can often result in physical fatigue. You can help your employees to adjust to their new work-from-home routine by giving them some space.