Employee engagement can be a riddle. It becomes even more complicated in a hybrid or entirely remote environment. At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us thought we would eventually return to in-person work, but the remote workplace appears to be here to stay for many. A recent PwC study found that only 8% of remote workers want to work from their employer’s office. Furthermore, 83% of employers and 71% of employees view shifting to remote work as a success.
What does that mean for employee engagement? For starters, plans and practices need to also adapt and adjust to a virtual work culture. While this may seem challenging, it is achievable and could set your business up for sustained success in community, culture, and comradery. Here are some effective and simple tips to help remote employees stay happy and engaged.
1. Create Specific Remote Work Policies
Working remotely can be both exciting and overwhelming. It grants employees unparalleled flexibility while also providing distraction-free focus time to dig deep into important projects. At the same time, it can break down divisions between work and life and lead to burnout. To keep remote colleagues on track and engaged, craft policies that set expectations and create an appropriate amount of structure. Policies should address issues like communication guidelines, working hours, management structures, time-off guidelines, and other topics. Your policy should also reinforce confidentiality and data protection policies.
2. Have Clear, Regular, and Transparent Communication
When you work remotely, effective communication is paramount. Gone are the days of being able to check-in on a project when visiting the water cooler. A well-planned communication strategy is essential for keeping workflows as seamless as they were in the office. It will also create transparency, which helps remove the barriers that limit success. Many organizations advocate for having an agile communication toolbox. Beyond email, organizations may want to take advantage of a creative mix of tools for groups and teams, one-on-one collaboration, and company-wide collaboration. Whether you’re considering project management tools, messaging platforms, or other tactics, ensure they are easy to use and don’t make the process of communicating more difficult.
3. Digitize Rewards and Recognition
Too often, recognizing employee accomplishments takes a back seat to other priorities. This is an enormous mistake. Study after study reinforces the fact that people need regular and positive forms of interaction, especially when managing new or difficult situations. But how do you ensure your organization is committed to this practice and how do you do it remotely?
The truth is that most virtual rewards and recognition programs fail to adhere to a proper plan or structure. As a result, it becomes hard for people to understand when they will be recognized or what actions get rewarded. Once you have a transparent plan, you need to make recognition public. Going back to recommendation #2, it is all about transparent communication. This will ensure recognition is not limited between manager and employee, and that the entire remote team feels connected. It reminds everyone that their efforts are being seen and valued. Also, be sure that recognition is timely. Late rewards or recognition always fall flat. Don’t miss a chance to tell your colleagues in real-time that they are doing a fantastic job.
4. Support Whole-Person Well-Being
Depending on how distributed your team is, ensuring that employee well-being programs are accessible and equitable for everyone can become increasingly complex. It can also be challenging to try to ensure that your programs cover everything from physical to emotional to financial wellbeing. Encourage your team to maintain work-life balance, making sure that personal and professional boundaries don’t become too blurry.
You may want to consider mental health time-off benefits, dedicated mental health support, remote meditation courses, and/or other benefits. In order to be engaged, your colleagues need to be healthy. When they’re not, your entire team’s professional experience will suffer. Having people think beyond the office about what creates purpose in their lives can be one of the most important ways to keep employees engaged. Remember that people, especially younger employees, seek purpose in their careers. If you can help to bring their purpose to life, everyone will be better for it.
5. Make Giving Meaningful to Your Team
When your team is distributed, consider evolving your corporate giving practices to inspire your team. Is it relevant to simply give to organizations around your headquarters, or expand to organizations with a national presence? Each location where your employees live and work presents opportunities for new connections and new nonprofit partnerships. You can engage your remote team in decision-making by inviting them to refer local nonprofits or to assess options proposed by staff that handle corporate donations. You could also consider polling your full staff to hear about their favorite organizations or the groups they feel are creating the greatest impact.
As you better understand local markets, you’ll be able to better serve the needs of those communities and discover ways to bring your CSR goals to life in localized ways. Furthermore, in addition to engaging employees, you’ll reach new audiences, driving awareness and potentially attracting new customers.
6. Leverage the Power of Employee Matching
Many people enjoy donating time and money to causes they care about, and more and more often employers are helping to bring this to life in the workplace. One way to support your employees’ efforts is to create a matching program. You can decide what donations you’ll match, what types of parameters to put in place, etc. Whether you can match $50 or $1000, it is all about showing your employees that you care about the causes they embrace and that you are willing to put your money where your mouth is. People that take advantage of these programs tend to be more highly engaged and more generous with their giving. Rather than simply poll employees, consider letting them donate themselves. Such a program can be especially meaningful around the holidays and when used in conjunction with other bonus policies.
7. Volunteer When and Where You Can
It’s well documented that volunteering can help employees feel more connected to their employer and their teams. Group volunteering can be a key part of building camaraderie, but it isn’t always possible in a remote environment. Luckily, regular volunteering has an even greater impact on employee engagement than a once-a-year staff volunteer day.
If you don’t already have a volunteer policy, we highly suggest creating one. Many companies provide employees with a set number of days or hours that they can use for volunteering each year. Being able to get out and work with organizations you personally care about at times that work best with your schedule and not having to take time off to do so is an incredibly enjoyable and meaningful experience; one that helps to promote whole-person wellbeing. Plus, from an administration perspective, individual volunteerism requires much less work and avoids scheduling conflicts. If people want to volunteer together, they can self-organize.
When designing or updating your program, be sure to create feedback loops to document hours, where people volunteered, and a process for people to share stories and pictures. This content is wonderful to share internally and externally, and it can motivate other colleagues to get out and do more.
Need additional help implementing and leveraging employee giving? EarthShare’s Employee Engagement Platform offers everything you need to get your giving program off the ground or breathe new life into your existing program with an all-in-one style solution. Enroll your entire team and let your employees choose how they’d like to give, create custom giving campaigns, and measure your team’s carbon footprint. Plus, discover and create new volunteer opportunities to get everyone involved.
Have any questions? Interested in a platform demo? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.