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Employee Experience

How to Engage Remote Employees

Between “Zoom fatigue” and general pandemic malaise, your employees are likely struggling to stay engaged. In fact, a recent survey from Monster.com found more 69 percent of employees are experiencing burnout with remote work. It’s an enormous management challenge to keep teams engaged and motivated while working remotely.

While some workers return to the office as pandemic restrictions subside, a good percentage of workers will remain remote for the foreseeable future. Our “new normal” of hybrid work arrangements means managers will have to find ways to keep teams engaged regardless of where they spend the majority of their work day. Here are some tips:

Communication is (Still) Key

Teams that were successful in maintaining engagement during the pandemic found communication was extremely helpful. Without the opportunity for information to be shared during hallway or lunchroom conversations, messages can get lost or misinterpreted. Internal communication is an essential in keeping teams engaged.

It’s also helpful to find multiple ways to communicate messages. Emails should be reinforced during team meetings. Remind managers to repeat messages during one-on-ones.

Maintain a Human Connection

Another challenge for remote workers is fighting a sense of isolation and loneliness that can come from being outside of the office. The camaraderie that comes from being part of a team is a powerful part of engagement. In general, these connections will naturally happen between workers who share a project or common interests. Getting groups together on non-work activities, like a lunchtime book club or mentor program are good ways to facilitate these connections remotely.

Having empathy is a key element of helping employees feeling connected to their work on a human level. It makes sense—we want to believe our manager and co-workers support us. It’s difficult to maintain this empathy when we aren’t seeing co-workers regularly, missing the visual cues that someone is having a rough day. This is why checking in regularly is important, and managers work to understand the immense strain most workers are under juggling the many changes brought on by the pandemic.   

Rethink Your Meeting

When the pandemic began, we logged on to our favorite video conference platform and had meetings… lots of meetings. As we begin to have a mix of in-person and virtual meeting participants, it will be essential to find ways to engage both audiences. Consider getting feedback from online attendees first, and use your video conference software’s chat feature to make sure everyone has a chance to comment.

You can also use polls as part of your meeting to give everyone a chance to weigh in on decisions. Managers should be mindful of who is an extrovert and who is an introvert on the team, making sure both have opportunities to engage in the meeting on their terms. Icebreaker or other meeting opening ideas are a good chance to engage everyone—perhaps ask a team member to be the guest emcee and host the meeting, or come up with a unique way to kick off the call.

Activities to Build Engagement

Early in the pandemic, the virtual happy hour was the go-to method for building teams. But as the pandemic wore on, workers were looking for something different. A well-designed activity can communicate key messages in a fun and engaging way, all while reminding remote workers of the amazing team they work with. Games, hack-a-thons or virtual awards presentations are all great ways to break up the monotony of the virtual meeting. A scavenger hunt can be a good way to break up meeting material with activities done independently, away from a screen. Also, sending care packages to remote employees is a good non-digital way to build engagement and connection across a team.

How Paycor Helps

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