We have been doing the ‘Covid Thing’ for over a year now. Working from home and digital meeting platforms have become a way of life for all of us. And by and large, we have been successful, our organisations continue to function and the work still gets done.

But there is something missing.

We miss the corridor conversations, the camaraderie of physical meetings, and the social trappings of working in an office. In short, it comes down to a lack of employee engagement. Employee engagement is the emotional involvement the employee has with the company and its goals. Engaged employees don’t simply work for a salary. The organisation is an extension of who they are, who they identify with; and they are part of the organisation. Engaged, happy and healthy employees directly correlate to better outcomes for the company.

Back in the day, working in an office meant that employee engagement was so much easier. There was the opportunity for casual conversations, catching up with workplace friends, coffee breaks, shared lunch breaks and other interactions. With these, all gone, and with remote working now in place, we have to come up with newer and more innovative ways of keeping employees engaged.

Employee engagement is important for employees and the organisation. Here are some of the benefits of sound employee engagement:

  • Engaged employees stay longer with the organisation. Less time is spent on recruiting and onboarding, and engaged employees build valuable institutional knowledge.
  • Engaged employees are more productive because they are emotionally present in the work they do. The work has meaning.
  • Engaged employees have lower absenteeism rates. Because work is fulfilling, they don’t find reasons to take time off.
  • Engaged employees deliver improved service and results. The organisation is part of who they are and they are intrinsically committed to high performance.

Here are 12 employee engagement ideas that you can consider with your remote workers to keep everyone connected and motivated.

  1. Personal one-on-one meetings

Managers should have regular one-on-one meetings with their team members to understand challenges, provide feedback, set goals and expectations.

  1. Provide the right tools

With remote working, many activities that were undertaken through conversations now have to be digitised. Tools like Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, Notion, Loom, and HeyTilo have all become essential for smooth communication, documentation, and interactions in a remote organisation. Choose the right tools for your needs and ensure that your teams know how to use them.

  1. New staff onboarding

Onboarding new work-from-home staff requires a lot more attention, than does onboarding office-based workers. A good place to start is by documenting and digitising all the processes, forms, and policies. Create a clear onboarding plan with check-ins at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. Have a monthly meeting to introduce new employees to senior management.

  1. Schedule Ask Me Anything meetings

Set up Ask Me Anything [AMA] sessions hosted by leadership to break communication barriers and to foster a transparent environment. Some wonderful ideas can come out of this, and many misconceptions cleared up.

  1. Office hours are over

The traditional 8-5 workday is dead. Accept that. Asynchronous communications is the new style in remote working. Educate managers and staff about how to recalibrate their expectations and their planning around flexible work timings. Make it a company thing.

  1. Group learning

Encourage teams to take up online courses together. This will have a positive impact on their performance. This not only takes care of the personal growth aspirations of the team member but also equips the team to work on innovative ideas using newly acquired skills and insights.

Leadership Insights: 12 Ways to promote Employee Engagement

  1. Keep meetings short and to the point

Meeting fatigue is a real thing. All of us are spending more time in online meetings. One common complaint that surfaces are that meetings amble along with no agenda. This is a discipline that you need to bring to your organisation. Not every meeting needs to be done on a video call. Audio calls can accomplish as much. Sometimes you can accomplish the communication through audio or a video message.

  1. Do fun activities

Bring fun into remote work. Online baking sessions, Scrabble™ events, general knowledge quizzes or even an online employee talent concert can be fun and improve engagement.

  1. Random acts of delight

Try sending handwritten notes, flowers or a box of biscuits to employees to appreciate their contribution. These tokens can go a long way in making employees feel emotionally attached to their company.

  1. Clubs on common interests

Think about establishing clubs and interest groups. Book clubs and movie clubs create a sense of community within your organisations.

  1. Engage employees continuously

Communicate to employees about company strategy, celebrate milestones, and share updates through social channels. Another important thing to do is to constantly listen to employees.

  1. Team health and wellness

Provide health and wellness support, both for physical fitness, as well as for mental health.

In summary:

Our time now is probably the first time in work history that team members are working remotely and managers are managing a remote team on a large scale. Many recalibrations and adjustments have to be made to adapt our in-the-office work methods to effective remote-work methods. Try some new approaches and see how your organisation responds.

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