Driving engagement is a tough task at the best of times — when employees all come together in a shared workspace — so driving engagement with a remote team will certainly be challenging. A recent survey found that a significant number of employees working from home felt less engaged than before, were working less productively and experienced more distractions and interruptions. They were also less motivated. So how can you help make employees feel connected, motivated and inspired? Here are a few ideas:
1. Respect boundaries
When working from home it’s easy to let the boundaries blur and allow for work to start to creep into personal lives and areas of our lives that were previously out of bounds. “We need to be respectful of boundaries, particularly time, and offer employees the flexibility they need to balance the demands of work and personal life by managing schedules, projects and expectations,” said Terri Brown, Director at Logical Truth, an Employee Marketing Firm, in an essay for HR Pulse. “Failing to support employees in creating healthy boundaries between work life and personal life may result in mental or emotional stress and in the long-term burnout.”
2. Reward and recognise
When working from home, it’s easy to feel disconnected from colleagues and managers. This can lead to employees losing sight of the bigger picture and how they contribute towards it. In the end, morale and motivation will inevitably go out the window. This is why Brown says reward and recognition are key components in driving employee engagement. “By recognising employees you’ll continue to get more of the behaviour you’re looking for as well as demonstrate to employees the progress they’re making,” she said. “Using a structured reward and recognition programme is a great way to maintain morale, but don’t underestimate the impact of spontaneous recognition, particularly when it’s public.”
3. Keep employees in the loop
Organic communication is how employees stay in touch with what’s happening. Those short water cooler conversations and chats across the desk or in the passage are important. When that is taken away, employees start to feel out of touch with what is happening. This can occur despite participating in online meetings, which tend to be transactional in nature rather than strategic. The solution? “Take the time to connect with staff and share news about your organisation and team goals, objectives and performance so that employees can see how they’re contributing and have a sense of progress, as well as an opportunity to ask questions and check-in,” Brown said. “Tech can really empower you by providing platforms that make connecting with remote workers intuitive, experiential and human.”
Employee wellness is not just a fad, it is essential when it comes to positive company culture. Studies have shown that 70% of employees with access to a wellness program report higher levels of job satisfaction. This filters down into many other aspects of the business including lower employee attrition, higher customer satisfaction and higher business profitability. “Wellness, both physical and mental, is particularly critical for remote workers, especially in the context of COVID-19,” Brown explained.
Offering services like coaching, trauma counselling or debt counselling, she added, recognises the psychological needs of employees and the upside of seeing employees holistically is greater engagement. “By supporting the wellbeing of your employees you’re looking after the health of your organisation,” Brown said.
5. Paid time off
Paid time off is essential when it comes to employee engagement. How? It has a knock-on effect. Time off leads to enhanced productivity and also boosts motivation among employees who generally tend to be happier and more driven than those who are overworked, overtired and take very little paid time off.
It does come with its challenges though. Manually tracking leave is daunting, with one of the main concerns being that employers have to manage the time of employees effectively so that everyone in the organization is productive. Leave tracking involves keeping records of sick leaves and holidays, as well as ensuring that the payroll gets done in an error-free manner and on time.
The advantage of an online leave management system is that it can take care of all this for you. It eliminates human error, minimizes paperwork and ensures adherence to the BCEA. There are various other benefits to an online leave management system. Leave balances are tracked automatically, managers can easily see who will be away, allowing them to plan accordingly, and can approve and reject leave applications at the click of a button while employees can put in requests for leave and easily check their balances.