The pandemic has had a deep impact on our lives. It has completely changed our way of living. We are dependent on masks, sanitisers, and social distancing measures to ensure our safety. Even our business organizations have shifted to remote working to prevent the gathering of employees in the office. Although we have successfully undergone this transition, many challenges are still there for us to overcome. Employee engagement is a major one of them.
We need to put our undeterred efforts to engage our remote workforce. Otherwise, our employees will lack productivity, deliver poor performance, and take our organization downhill. This is something we cannot afford. So, before our remote employees start getting disengaged, we should begin implementing effective strategies to keep them engaged.
7 Strategies to keep your remote workforce engaged during the pandemic:
1. Rain appreciation and let your employees get drenched in it:
‘Appreciation’ is an inherent need for employee engagement. Around 69% of the employees say that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being better recognized. This is simply because deep down in our hearts we all have a desire to be appreciated. Although you may not see it whenever your employees complete some projects and submit them to you, they silently wish for you to appreciate them. If you do, they come back to you with the next project completed in a more amazing manner. You see them become more productive, motivated, and yield excellent results in whatever they do. All these positive changes occur only because of one thing- your appreciation. Thus, appreciation is one of the simplest ways to keep your remote workforce engaged.
You should rain appreciation. This implies that your appreciation should not be limited to the great things your employees do. Rather, it should be available to them for every slight effort they put in work. For example, if they complete a work target in time, you should appreciate them.
Further, there are two ways in which you can appreciate your employees. One is private appreciation and the other is public appreciation. Both these ways are beneficial but public appreciation is better. This is because private recognition only motivates the one who is being appreciated. But, public appreciation motivates all your employees- the one being appreciated as well as the spectators. It ignites in them a desire to be appreciated too. So, public appreciation can help you direct all your remote employees on the path of engagement. Office chat groups and conference video calls are the two most effective platforms which you can utilize to extend public recognition to your remote employees.
2. Be a source of motivation for your employees:
Lack of motivation is natural when we are not working in the office environment. But, without motivation, your employees cannot remain engaged. They cannot give their 100% input at work until they are motivated. This implies that for as long as your employees are working remotely, you have to be a source of motivation for them. You have to motivate them every day and make up for the lack of motivation they are suffering in the home environment. For this, you can implement the following two strategies:
If you charge your employees right away in the morning, they’ll likely remain engaged throughout the day. So, you should have a motivational virtual get-together with your employees in the morning. You should empower them with your motivational words and if you wish to learn the art of motivating your workforce, you can watch Les Brown’s or Tony Robbins’ videos on YouTube.
This is another simple way to motivate your workforce. You can send motivational messages in the office group and set your workforce in high spirits for the day. But, do remember simply sending the motivational messages will not benefit you as intended. To achieve the best results, you should explain and elaborate on what you wish to convey to your workforce with your motivational messages. This will help them perceive your messages clearly and they’ll become better motivated and engaged in work.
3. Keep the bond between your employees intact:
The kind of relationships your employees have with their managers and coworkers, significantly impacts their level of engagement. This is true even when they are working remotely. It is because as human beings, we are social animals. We have an inherent need to bond and connect with others. When this need doesn’t get fulfilled, your employees feel lost and disconnected from your organization. This leads them to disengagement. So, to keep your remote workforce engaged you to have to keep the bond between your employees intact. For this you can try the different strategies mentioned below:
A virtual get together session is where you and your employees spend time with each other via video conferencing. You can have lots of talks, have fun and laugh together. The only rule you have to follow during these sessions is that there will be no discussions about work. This is important to keep the environment relaxed. Further, you can conduct these sessions either once or twice a week. But, for best results make sure to conduct these sessions at least once a week.
Playing together is one of the best ways to bond with each other. So, you should invite your employees for a virtual gaming session via video conferencing. Your employees will really enjoy playing together and their childlike smiles will tell you how joyful they are feeling. Charades, Bingo, and Pictionary are some popular examples of games that you can play with your employees virtually, but these are not the only ones. There are many more such games available and you can easily search for them on the internet.
A complete family virtual gets together session will be really refreshing and connecting for your employees. If you organize it, your employees can come with their family members, bring some snacks to eat, and connect to each other via video conferencing. Won’t it be refreshing and amazing?
4. Take your employees on a journey of stress management:
Stress is not good for employee engagement. According to Towers Watson’s Global Benefits Attitudes survey, 57% of the employees who claimed to have high-stress levels, reported being disengaged at work. If we look at the impacts stress has on us, we can clearly understand why stressed employees are more disengaged at work. Stress impairs our ability to concentrate, leads to health problems such as headaches, high pulse rate, and muscle aches. When your employees are suffering from such adverse impacts of stress, they can definitely not be engaged in work. Further, the stress caused by the pandemic when coupled with work stress can lead your employees to their all-time low levels of engagement.
This makes it crucial for you to take your employees on a journey of stress management. Otherwise, you may experience the lowest levels of employee engagement during the pandemic. Now, let’s discuss some ways for you to help your remote employees de-stress:
Affirmations are words of power that help your brain tune in to positivity and lower your stress level. So, to help your employees de-stress, you can gather them virtually in the morning via video conferencing and recite affirmations with them. You can create a list of positive affirmations to recite, using YouTube videos and then, ask your employees to repeat after you. Even if you don’t want to take the charge, don’t worry, you can simply play YouTube affirmation videos and recite affirmations along with them.
Meditation takes you home to your inner self, where there are no worries and only waves of bliss wash you over. As you dive deep into this state, your stress level reduces tremendously. So, meditation is a gift you can give to yourself and your remote employees. You can gather them virtually via video conferencing for a group meditation session at least once every week. But, you should encourage them to meditate by themselves every day.
Now, if you find yourself wondering how to meditate? Don’t worry, it’s simple. You just have to play a guided meditation video on YouTube, follow the instructions and you all can easily learn how to meditate. I am sure once you experience the bliss of meditation, you’ll have an inner calling to practice it every day.
As we grow up, we lose our touch with the present moment. We are physically available in the present moment, but mentally we are somewhere else. We are either taking a ride in the past or driving through the visions of the future. This absence from the present moment is one of the biggest causes of stress. It tangles us in knots of thoughts and makes us feel stressed. So, to de-stress, we should start living completely in the present moment again and this is possible with mindfulness. To explain the concept of mindfulness to your remote employees, you can use one simple example. Tell them to focus on the sound of the keys of their laptop. This simple activity will draw their attention to the present moment and their stress level will lower down.
5. Give some controls in the hands of your employees:
Working becomes burdensome when we have someone who is in complete control of what we do and how we do it. This makes us feel frustrated and when frustration comes into play, our engagement level is bound to sink down. The same goes for your remote employees. If you try to control their way of working, even when they are working distantly, they’ll exhibit a low level of engagement. So, it is better for you to give some controls in the hands of your employees. This doesn’t mean that you cannot guide your employees, definitely, you can! But, you have to take care that you are not over-controlling them. Try to be gentle with them and let them express their creativity in work. Give them the freedom to work in their own way and then later after they are done, you can suggest the required amendments.
6 .Express your empathy towards your employees:
According to Forbes, empathy is the basic requirement for employees to become engaged. This requirement has increased even more during the current times of the pandemic. You never know what someone might be going through inside. Some of your sensitive employees might be having excessive anxiety centered around the worsening situation of the pandemic. They might be afraid to take a single step out of their house.
Under such circumstances, if you reprimand them for their lack of productivity and not so good work performance, they’ll start paving their path to disengagement. They’ll see you as an unempathetic employer and just like everyone else, they won’t feel motivated to serve your organization with the best.
So, to keep your remote workforce engaged, you should express your empathy. Even if some of your employees are not performing as expected, try to politely ask them if they are suffering from some problem in their life. Let them know that they can confide in you and you’ll put your best efforts to help them out. Such empathetic expression of yours will definitely lead them on the path of engagement. Moreover, if you become successful in helping your employees with their problems, their engagement level will naturally rise significantly.
7. Keep the spirit of teamwork alive with smart collaborative tools:
According to a survey conducted by the ADP Research Institute, employees working in teams are 2.3 times more likely to get engaged. This implies that teamwork is instrumental in keeping the employees engaged. No doubt, remote working during the pandemic has caused a disruption in teamwork, but you can still help your employees collaborate well with the help of smart collaborative tools. Slack, Trello and Asana are some examples. These tools offer many interesting features such as organized communication channels, task management and video conferencing. By using these features, your remote employees can collaborate effectively and you can experience an enhanced level of their engagement in work.
Employee engagement is a cause of concern during the prevalence of remote working amidst the pandemic. But, as discussed throughout, there are some effective strategies by implementing which you can keep your remote workforce engaged despite the distance. So, All the Best, and hope that these strategies will reap the desired results for you.