If the past year has taught us anything, it is that business owners must take creative steps to boost employee engagement and loyalty while embracing the work-from-home lifestyle. During these difficult times it is more important than ever for business owners to raise employee morale. While many employers had hoped to return to their normal office settings after the initial quarantine period, COVID-19 has forced many companies to transition to teleworking this past year. With the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly at its worst, employers are realizing they have no choice but to develop creative employee engagement ideas for remote employees in order for employers to keep employees engaged and retain their hard-working employees. It is critical for employers to keep employees engaged because when employee engagement levels are high, employees are more productive and enthusiastic about their work.
Unfortunately for employers, maintaining a high employee engagement level even when all employees are working in the office is tough, but it is even more grueling when having to manage employee engagement levels when everyone is working remotely. This past year has proven to be a year of absolute uncertainties and it has become quite clear to employers that increasingly dropping engagement levels have led to a decrease in employee work productivity and mental health, in addition to adversely impacting the business owner’s brand which they have been building for years.
That said, it is crucial that employers now take the steps to prioritize employee engagement by implementing effective tools and techniques to strengthen employee engagement, loyalty, and productivity. Below we have put together effective actionable steps employers can implement to start increasing employee engagement and loyalty.
1. Host Virtual Live Training Events
Virtual conferencing software such as Zoom have led to the emergence of a whole new branch of online training. Employers can now host live workshops and events for their remote employees that target specific performance issues or that focus on teaching tricks and tips to help build vital skills employees are required to have on the job. The main benefit from these live events is that the virtual conferencing software can facilitate a two-way dialogue. This will allow employees working remotely to interact face-to-face with their colleagues and the training instructor and to have meaningful conversations about ways to better themselves while working.
2. Use Gamification to Boost Motivation and Track Online Training Progress
Another component that employees miss when forced to work remotely is the friendly in-office competition and the ability to show off their achievements and compete against their peers, which allows them to test their own limits. Employers may want to embrace a gamification learning management system to enable employees to monitor their job-related tasks and online training performance. This will likely improve employee learning and motivation. Many gamification learning management systems allow employees to earn badges, advance to higher levels, and post scores on leaderboards for their team members to see, which is a good way for remote employees to inspire and motivate their peers to stay productive and encourage employees to attend multiple training sessions.
3. Implement Virtual Coffee Breaks
While employers do not always want their employees to take coffee breaks while working in the office, coffee breaks are inevitably ingrained in most every employee’s day-to-day activities as a way to catch-up and build rapport with their peers. So why not implement a virtual coffee break a couple of times a week for employees? Ask your employees to brew a cup of coffee (or any other drink they want) and have them log on to a video conferencing tool to start their “coffee break.” This is a good tool to use to let employees discuss work-related challenges, or anything else they would normally talk about just to keep employees engaged with each other and bring back a sense of normalcy while working remotely.
4. Institute Regular Check-Ins
Now that employees can no longer have in-person meetings with their managers and supervisors, it is a good idea for employers to institute regular check-in sessions between employees and their managers or supervisors. These check-in sessions should be done through a virtual video conferencing system to allow the parties to see one another face-to-face. A regular check-in session can be done with individual employees or among teams of employees to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding their work duties and to allow employees to provide feedback to each other. It should also be noted that these regular check-ins have additional value – they create a sense of togetherness amongst your employees and will improve employee engagement.
5. Encourage Peer-Based Support
Employee engagement stems from emotional connectivity. Peer-based support, such as mentoring or coaching, helps employees form bonds with one another and allows them to share their experiences, learn from each other’s mistakes, and evaluate topics from different perspectives while working remotely. Some employees may find that feedback and support from their peers is more honest and as a result, they would be more inclined to act on that feedback, which will increase employee engagement and loyalty.
6. Embrace Online Recognition as a Ritual
Not only will employee recognition boost individual employee engagement, but it will also lead to increased productivity and loyalty. and will lead to higher retention rates of employees. The most effective type of recognition is authentic, honest, and individualized to each employee. Since employees are no longer working in the office, supervisors, colleagues, and peers have lost the opportunity to walk over to someone’s desk to give them praise or tell them they did a good job. Without this positive feedback, many employees working remotely experience feelings of inadequacy which can affect an employee’s performance, and ultimately, lead to disengagement. Therefore, online employee recognition is essential for remote employees. Employers can create a “kudos” channel on their messaging chat system to call out employees to celebrate wins and recognize good work. Although not every employee is an extrovert who wants to be singled out in front of everyone at work to receive a compliment, online employee recognition is well accepted by both extroverts and introverts.
Most importantly, after implementing these tips and tricks to boost employee engagement and loyalty, employers should not forget to implement a process to actually measure how engaged your remote employees are. One of the best tools to use to measure employee engagement is to use surveys. Here are a few examples of employee engagement survey questions:
· Do your managers or management team live up to the core values of our company?
· Do you feel you are respected by your coworkers?
· On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your job?
· Do you find your job meaningful?
Another way to measure your employee engagement and loyalty levels is to measure your employee turnover rate. The rate at which your employees decide to leave your company explains a lot about the level of employee engagement and loyalty.
Now that businesses have had to completely overhaul their innerworkings in order to accommodate remote working, business owners should try to implement some of these innovative tips to increase remote employee engagement and loyalty.