Jul 11, 2023
5 mins read
It’s probably no surprise that a 2021 Gallup poll found that businesses with high employee engagement achieve higher productivity, higher customer loyalty and engagement, lower turnover, and higher profitability.
But what you might not have expected is that after a steady rise in employee engagement over the last decade, it’s decreased by two percentage points. While around 50% of employees surveyed experienced high-stress levels pre-pandemic, the number has now jumped to 57%.
Whether you’re working with an in-office or remote team, the core principles of employee engagement—cultivating a culture of recognition, giving employees the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions, and giving them goal-reaching incentives— remain the same.
With a remote team, maintaining focus on these core principles is just more challenging. With that in mind, here are 5 ways to help you encourage employee engagement with your remote work employees or distributed team.
Clear, intentional communication policies: While your team has access to myriad tools, like messaging apps, workflow tools, and video conferencing, it’s important that your team understands which tool is for what type of communication. Decide what you’re using for formal interactions like meetings or stand-ups as well as more social and personal interactions so that it’s clear to your team that not only do you value all types of interactions, but you want to encourage them.
Regular check-ins and meetings: No one wants a meeting that could have been an email, but when you’ve got a remote or distributed team, it’s so important to have that actual face-to-face or voice-to-voice time. These types of interactions can help build trust and rapport, but also allow managers to get a sense of what’s going on with their team, and provide them with the support that they might need. Like communication, make sure that you’re offering your team opportunities for more formal meetings and check-ins, as well as ones that feel more informal. While you might not be able to replace what happens in the lunch room or at the water cooler, you can provide space for your team to be more freely social with each other. That’s also a valuable part of an employee’s work experience.
Set clear goals and expectations (and recognize employees when they meet them!): With a team that’s not all under one physical roof, setting extremely clear expectations and goals—from an overall standpoint as well as project-based—can help your team be more successful. And when they are? Be sure that you’re recognizing these achievements in a public way. This can really support focus and motivation.
Support connection and collaboration: While it’s absolutely possible to build connections and encourage collaboration with your remote first team and there are companies that can even support your efforts to do so, you might find it difficult to completely replace the need for in-person time. Many companies are hosting all-hands work weeks on a yearly (or bi-yearly basis) or offering teams the opportunity to work together (for those employees who are near each other) at an on-demand coworking space. These opportunities for teams to come together and see each other in person, even on a limited basis, can have a powerful effect.
Promote a positive remote work culture: A company’s work culture is at the core of its team, so the question is: how do you translate those values in a way that can be effective for a team who’s not altogether in one place. Whether it’s emphasizing the importance of work-life balance (no emails after hours) or encouraging healthy life habits (offering a gym or exercise membership benefit) to supporting efforts for employee self-care (opportunities for personal and professional development), you can create a positive work culture wherever your team is located.
Each team and individual on your team is unique, so managers need to take time to understand what types of opportunities will best support their own team’s needs. With creativity, attention, and dedication, you can be successful at encouraging employee engagement with your remote team.