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How to keep remote employees engaged and happy

Four strategies companies can try in 2021

Your approach to recognizing employees should include both formal and informal recognition
Your approach to recognizing employees should include both formal and informal recognition (XPS/Unsplash)

Many companies made the move to a virtual workspace in 2020, which presented challenges they weren’t prepared for—such as: how do you keep remote workers engaged when they’re dealing with the stress of external events on top of blurry boundaries between work and home life?

Engaging employees in a remote work environment doesn’t have to be all that different from engaging them in a traditional office setting. If you’re looking for guidance on how to engage remote employees, here are four straightforward strategies that will help you improve remote employee engagement at your business.

1. Create opportunities to appreciate and recognize team members for their work

Research from Gartner says that effectively recognizing employee performance can increase discretionary (or extra) effort by 23% and intent to stay by up to 32% (full content available to clients). That’s motivation enough to refresh your employee recognition strategy.

Your approach to recognizing employees should include both formal and informal recognition. It’s a given that big accomplishments and milestones should be discussed during 360 feedback sessions, but recognizing everyday wins can be just as effective at boosting employee morale.

One of the easiest ways to recognize daily accomplishments is by encouraging your team to speak up about them. If you use a collaboration tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams, you can create a channel specifically for this purpose. If not, try dedicating a few minutes of your next team meeting to sharing successes.

2. Encourage employees to take time off

Taking time away from work is beneficial for both mental and physical health. Employees that take time off report feeling less stressed and more productive when they return to work. They’re also less likely to search for a new role and leave your business.

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest your employees not work in order to get higher quality work from them, but regular time off is necessary for preventing burnout. Especially in the case of remote work, where some may have a harder time setting clear boundaries between their work and home lives.

Simply providing paid time off isn’t enough if employees are expected to complete their responsibilities at the same pace they would if they were on the clock. In a survey exploring how U.S. employees use their paid time-off, the second-highest response employees gave for not taking time off was their workload.

So, how can you create a work environment where vacations aren’t just accepted, but encouraged? Make taking time off part of your company culture.

Here’s are three ways to do just that:

Meet with your employees prior to their break to figure out who can take over their responsibilities while they’re out.

Have your team leads and managers regularly share their time-off plans with their teams, including what they’re looking forward to during their time away.

Gift organization-wide half days when company goals are met.

3. Host a virtual coffee break or happy hour

Historically, having fun on the clock has been frowned upon, but there are benefits to kicking back and enjoying casual conversation with your coworker. Some studies show that employees are up to 13% more productive when they’re happy. Not to mention, connecting with your employees in a casual setting helps you form close relationships, which can lead to better teamwork later on.

These opportunities are especially important if you’re a part of a fully remote team, because you miss out on the natural interactions that happen when you share a workspace. Luckily, video conferencing software can help (plus, there’s a good chance you’re already using it).

Hosting a coffee chat or happy hour is easy; all you need to do is send a calendar invite to your team and choose your video conferencing toole. Some remote teams take it a step further and play games or host virtual cooking classes, but it’s up to you to decide what activity works best.

4. Use employee engagement software to solve sources of disengagement

Employee engagement software helps you figure out what’s causing your employees to feel disengaged, as well as what steps you can take to fix it. These systems can be standalone tools or a part of a more comprehensive talent management suite. Using this kind of software, employees can submit honest criticism about their work environment without fear of retaliation, receive regular feedback from managers about their performance and come together with co-workers to celebrate individual or company-wide wins.

With inputs from

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