Employee Engagement, an often misunderstood yet crucial term. Most of us know that employee engagement is a good thing, with a general understanding that it brings a range of benefits. We also know that it’s difficult to accomplish, especially when working with remote employees.
Below you’ll find more information on how employee engagement can benefit your business, and how to achieve it with remote employees. Given the increase in the number of remote employees, these topics have become even more pressing. Read on and be sure to share your own ideas in the comments section!
The Importance of Engagement
We can think of engagement as to how passionately employees feel about their work, and how connected they feel to their organization. These are all noble attributes, but why are they important, and what benefit do they bring our businesses?
Highly engaged teams perform better
Recent research has shown that engagement leads to better team collaboration. Gallup International found that “the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability”, meaning engagement can positively affect your bottom line.
Engagement leads to retention
High levels of turnover can negatively affect your business. Employees that feel they are valued, that their voices are heard, and that care for the success of the company are more likely to remain on the job. Keeping employees engaged is one of the best ways to keep top talent on your team.
Engagement leads to better individual productivity
One of the well-established benefits of employee engagement is an increase in individual productivity. In fact, another recent study shows that employees who feel that their voices are heard at work are up to 4.6 times as productive.
We know that keeping employees connected, collaborating, and feeling involved at work is key to a multitude of benefits, but how do we achieve it? This question becomes even more interesting when working with remote employees.
Remote Employees on the Rise
With the increasingly dispersed nature of the modern economy due to advances in technology, the amount of remote employees is on the rise. More and more businesses are working with remote employees for a number of reasons: lower overhead costs, access to a wider pool of talent and meeting employee preferences, to name a few.
The increase in remote employees has naturally led to a number of important questions, particularly around keeping employees engaged, collaborating and productive. Remote employees have the same needs as office-based employees, but the methods for meeting these needs is different.
So what are the best practices for keeping remote employees engaged?
How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged
Gallup International’s announcement that employee engagement in the US is on the rise has received a lot of attention recently. Behind the headline though we see that the year on year increase is only 1%, with 34% of US employees currently engaged. This means that there’s still a lot of work to do in order to create organizational cultures that develop engagement.
Feeling connected to colleagues is key to engagement and a specific challenge for remote employees. The inability to have informal facetime (ala ‘water cooler talk’) means that you should be more strategic in encouraging remote employees to communicate.
Here are some of the top strategies for you to try out with your remote employees:
Praise and Listen
Being far away from the main office means that remote employees’ hard work can often go unrecognized. Make a concerted effort to share your remote employees’ accomplishments with the rest of the team. This way, they’ll feel valued at your organization and connected with the rest of the team.
The same holds true for remote employee insights- distance means that they may have difficulty sharing their needs, feedback, and ideas. Make sure you have a system set up for collecting such information, ideally through a standardized periodic system such as surveys, and ad hoc during meetings.
Provide the right communication infrastructure
Communication is key, and no more so than when trying to increase employee engagement. Working with remote workers means that you’ll need to be even more careful in choosing the right team communication tools. The right choice can better connect your team members, wherever they may be, and the wrong choice could lead to frustration and a reduction in communication.
There is a wide range of messaging apps on the market, so make sure your choice is one that has to buy in from your team. The best way to ensure this is to ask them directly for ideas and take a vote on their top choice. That way, you can ensure a high level of the team uptake, increasing your odds of improving team engagement.
Check in regularly
Regularity is key for remote workers. Setting a routine can go a long way to making them feel part of the larger organization, giving them a recurring opportunity to share and be heard. Agree on a routine for one-on-one check-ins or small team meetings, and make sure you stick to it.
Also makes sure to set aside specific time for informal sharing, either as separate meetings or parts of team meetings. This way all team members will feel that they are able to connect with their colleagues on a more individual level.
Try to have as much facetime as possible
When holding meetings with remote employees it’s easy to just dial in by phone or just use audio features of your messaging system. However, the visual connection is important, creating a deeper connection between you and your employee.
This is easy to do when working in the same office, but more of a challenge for remote employees. Create the practice of taking advantage of messaging software for video calls, ensuring a regular facetime connection. This way you’ll help your remote employees feel more connected and engaged during meetings.
Engaging remote employees is a challenging, but not impossible, task. With a well thought out plan employing best practices, you’ll be well on your way to reaping the benefits that engaged employees bring.
These are just a few of the top tips for engaging remote employees, but there are certainly more. Do you have a favorite strategy for keeping remote employees engaged? Let us know below!
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