Hybrid and remote work are here to stay. Although there’s been a significant drop in total remote workers since the peak of the pandemic, more than a quarter of full-time employees are completely remote, and a whopping 92 percent work remotely at least one day a week, according to Zippia research.
This is great news for many reasons. People who work remotely at least some of the time are generally happier and more productive, while companies that allow remote work tend to have lower turnover per SmallBizGenius.
However, with each person off in their own corner of the world, employees can easily become disconnected or cut off from the team. Today, only 36 percent of employees report feeling engaged in their work and workplace, according to Gallup polls.
Why it’s Important to Keep Remote Employees Engaged
Most definitions of employee engagement mention things like a connection to the workplace, psychological investment, enthusiasm, and willingness to contribute to the company’s success.
It makes sense, then, that engaged employees are 4.7 times more likely to do something good for the company even if it’s not expected of them and 3.5 times more likely to stay late at work when something needs to be done, according to a Temkin Group study.
Furthermore, businesses with highly engaged employees have 41 percent less absenteeism and 17 percent greater productivity per Gallup. They deliver significantly better customer experiences than their competitors too, the Temkin study notes.
These factors have a major impact on the bottom line. Revenue growth is 2.5 times higher when employees are highly engaged too, according to Bain & Company. Profitability is 21 percent higher as well, Gallup research shows.
Statistics abound. Keeping your employees engaged is good for business.
8 Ways to Boost Employee Engagement and Improve the Remote Work Experience
Despite the benefits of remote work, it presents challenges for employee engagement. There are no impromptu meetings at the water cooler or lunches together in the breakroom. You can’t just pass by someone’s desk and tell by the look on their face that they’re having a rough go of things and need a one-on-one. Even still, there are many things you can do to boost engagement in a remote work environment.
1. Equip Your Employees with the Proper Tools at Home
If your team is struggling with equipment or establishing a proper work setup at home, their productivity and morale are going to tank. You may even be required to procure equipment or reimburse for work-related expenses depending on local legislation. A few things employers routinely address include:
- Computer and monitor
- Tech support
- Cell phone
- Internet connection
2. Invest in Development
Researchers recently polled more than 18,000 employees to find out what drives both employee engagement and employee disengagement. Interestingly, the top ten factors in disengagement repeatedly reference the word “manager.” This is not mirrored on the list of top engagement factors. In other words, management alone can break an experience, but it’s not enough on its own to make one.
One of the biggest killers of engagement was not feeling valued by one’s manager, according to the Custom Insight survey. While there are certainly many factors that go into feeling valued, such as treating employees with respect and remembering to celebrate wins, investing in your team is huge. When you provide your team, not just with a strong onboarding but ongoing development, you’re telling them that you believe in them and want to keep them around.
3. Ask for Employee Feedback
Asking for employee feedback falls squarely in the “feeling valued” box mentioned above. Most companies perform annual surveys or request feedback during employee reviews, but you may want to do it more frequently when your team is remote because contact tends to be reduced.
Experiment with a mix of options. For example, you may want to give employees the option to reply anonymously to some surveys or address specific initiatives and projects in different surveys. You can also ask for direct feedback during one-on-ones.
4. Listen to Your Workforce
Asking for feedback means nothing if it isn’t paired with action. If your employees pinpoint issues in their surveys or report concerns to you directly, be prepared to follow up on them. You may also want to institute a virtual open-door policy, so the team knows that they can come to you about their concerns without fear of repercussions.
5. Utilize Employee Journey Mapping
Have you ever heard the parable about the blind men and the elephant? It goes something like this: Three blind men come across an elephant for the first time and reach out to touch it. The first grabs the tail and describes the elephant as being snake-like. The second touches the ear and says it’s like a fan. The third grabs a leg and says it’s more like a tree. None of them is wrong. It’s all about perspective. Your employee experience is the same way.
A newly onboarded employee may feel competent and empowered, while someone who’s been with the company a few years might feel neglected and ignored. Employee surveys don’t account for these differences. They tend to lump everyone together even though they’re at a different stage with the company and therefore are experiencing the organization differently.
Employee journey mapping addresses this and can show you where your organization is lacking, so you can shore up weak areas in the employee experience and meet the needs of your team better.
6. Improve Internal Communication
Employee communication is about more than endless meetings and email chains. Make sure your team is set up with the right communication tools, including an instant messaging platform and project management tools. You may also want to look into creating an internal company newsletter. These things help the team come together over common goals and provide more avenues for solidifying company culture.
7. Foster Social Interactions
Positive social interactions boost morale and bring the team together. A few virtual activities to consider include:
- Charity events and fundraising
- Virtual office parties, watercooler chats, and coffee breaks
- Formal peer-to-peer recognition programs
- Dedicated time during meetings to share positive personal news
- Non-work channels on company chat applications
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
- Peer buddy groups and mentorships
8. Invest in Employee Wellness
Now more than ever, employers are acutely aware that employees need mental and emotional wellness programs in addition to physical health benefits that are traditionally offered. If you offer your team health insurance, your insurance provider may already offer things like access to health and fitness programs, counseling, or virtual healthcare. In these cases, you can simply promote the programs already available to your team rather than paying for additional options.
If these perks aren’t already available, find out if there are ways to offer them at little or no cost to your team. You can also adopt new company policies related to sick time, vacation, and leave to ensure employees can see to their personal needs and feel more focused at work.
Invest in Your Employee Experience with Help from Invoice Factoring
Some initiatives to improve your employee experience don’t cost anything to implement. However, if cash flow issues or slow-paying clients are preventing you from moving forward with larger initiatives, invoice factoring can provide you with the cash to kick them off. Unlike loans, which are paid back with interest over a period of time, factoring is similar to getting a cash advance on your unpaid B2B invoices. Your clients pay off the balance when they pay their invoices. To learn more or get started, request a complimentary rate quote from Charter Capital.
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