Employee engagement. Two little words that can make or break a business! This year Gallup revealed that disengaged employees racked up $7.8 trillion in lost revenue by 2021. While keeping employees motivated at work has always been a priority, recent years have added additional challenges for HR professionals and community teams.
Since the pandemic, 63% of high-growth businesses have switched to a remote or hybrid work model. But what has this sudden shift done for employee engagement? When the pandemic sent employees to work from home, engagement dropped to a staggering low, with only 20% of workers feeling connected to their company. We all know what follows. This great layoff left businesses reeling as it became clear that if not managed properly, moving the work environment away from the traditional office setup could wreak havoc on employee satisfaction.
Engaged employees are 17% more productive than their peers and 87% less likely to leave their organization.
As companies face more competition to attract and keep talented hybrid candidates, investing in experiences to keep employees engaged and excited about their work has probably never been more prudent. So, what strategies can companies use to connect with their employees while working remotely?
1. Make sure everyone is on the same page
Statistics show that 86% Employs ineffective cooperation and blames poor communication as the root cause of workplace failure. No one wants to be on a team that is constantly missing the mark, so making sure every member knows their responsibilities is key to keeping ambitious employees engaged.
With hybrid work, it’s easier for wires to cross and colleagues to misinterpret their roles in getting a project done. If possible, meet in person at the start of a new project to set clear expectations and make sure it’s clearly outlined in a document accessible to everyone. Apps like Asana can help you create online Gantt charts that your team can follow and change as they progress.
If meeting IRL is not possible, set aside enough time to do the process online. Fight zoom fatigue and keep employees engaged by factoring in five-minute breaks every hour to stretch their eyes and rest. Infuse the occasion with team spirit by sending staff snacks or a bottle of wine to toast a successful session at the end!
Whether you meet virtually or face-to-face, the key is to create a plan that all participants agree to and check back in regularly. When creating your schedule and setting performance metrics, ensure an environment where employees feel free to express concerns.
2. Appeal to ambitious employees
As we adjust to Covid, many companies are surprised to learn that employees are stressed at the prospect of not seeing their bosses. A common complaint among younger team members, employees worried that less face time with management would result in them being overlooked for promotion.
As offices slowly reopened, many businesses struggled to safely distribute staff as employees scrambled to grab a hot desk on the same day as team leaders. While hybrid working models allow companies to attract top talent from further afield, these observations demonstrate that enterprising workers still need one-on-one time with management to maintain high levels of engagement.
Research shows that employees are promoted within their first three years within the business 70% Less likely to be seen elsewhere. So how can companies offer internal career development to their remote workers? Providing monthly virtual catch-ups with managers is a great starting point, but driven team members will miss out on the networking opportunities that arise from still being in the office.
One strategy that can help you stand out from competitors is to have community teams pair employees with managers from across the business. Encourage short coffee meetings where colleagues can get to know each other briefly in person or online.
Alternatively, ask department heads to host a webinar about their team’s role in the business and any opportunities for career-developing collaboration. Human resources can create initiatives for colleagues to learn new skills or establish an annual mentoring scheme where employees can apply once a month to pick the brains of co-founders or key decision makers.
3. Create space for socializing
As many professionals will attest, some of our greatest friendships can start in the office, and getting along with our colleagues ultimately benefits a business’s bottom line. Communication becomes easier, and employees are more likely to stay when they feel part of the team.
During the pandemic, 73% Among the employees surveyed said they missed the opportunity to socialize with their colleagues every day!
In addition to more formal project management meetings, managers can make room for more casual communication. Set up a coffee morning where colleagues can catch up before the day starts. Alternatively, hold a monthly lunch on Zoom where colleagues can socialize over a sandwich and get to know each other in a more relaxed setting.
Slack can also be a great tool for dispersed teams. Whether it’s sharing Halloween memes or asking for Netflix recommendations, having a channel for informal communication can de-clutter project-focused spaces while leaving room for fun.
Diversity is the spice of life, so on top of bonding between departments, community teams can encourage a wide range of interactions with company-wide online events. Whether it’s a quirky quiz or a virtual happy hour, there are many ways you can gather employees online for something social.
4. Recognize individual achievements
As Maslow famously noted in his hierarchy of needs, people thrive when they have a healthy sense of esteem and belonging. In the workplace, when employees don’t receive recognition for their efforts, they can feel disconnected from the company’s goals. Without this shared purpose, the days drag on and soon they will seek more meaningful employment elsewhere.
The power of employee recognition cannot be understated. In the survey, 63% Workers said they would not seek alternative employment if their achievements were noted. Around the office, there are plenty of opportunities to recognize individuals’ hard work on a project. But with remote work, team members can easily be overlooked, especially if they are more introverted and less forthcoming in sharing their accomplishments.
Set up a monthly coffee break on Zoom to check in and celebrate small wins and ongoing teamwork. Peer recognition is equally important, so in addition to asking for feedback on their own progress, ask the group to nominate a team hero who has moved the project forward in previous weeks.
5. Come together to celebrate core values
As the population shifts to younger generations, the nature of the workplace is changing. Reports show that Gen Z and Millennial workers are motivated by different factors than their older counterparts. Now that they make up 46% Among the workforce, companies that ignore their choices will start to feel the pinch.
Gen Z and Millennial candidates are attracted to companies that care, but empty platitudes won’t suffice. If you plan to build your company culture based on certain values, you better be prepared to walk the walk! Setting up a day for team members to volunteer at an aligned NGO can show you what you promote and reconnect employees with a shared purpose.
6. A weekly all hands workshop
While hosting a weekly all-hands meeting may seem like a daunting undertaking, it can reap big rewards in strengthening company culture and employee engagement. Bringing everyone together allows employees to reconnect over shared values and nurture the sense of belonging we all crave!
By sharing updates, these meetings allow colleagues to see how other departments fit into the larger company’s goals and bring everyone together toward a shared goal. This approach can combat the silo effect that can easily set in, especially when working remotely, and improve engagement as everyone sees how they fit into the bigger picture.
While all of our travelpark arms are now a well-oiled machine, hosted in person and online, they weren’t always this way. We started small and built up slowly, taking employee feedback on what was working and what wasn’t. Over time they have become an invaluable resource, serving as weekly reminders of our goals and appreciation for each other.
7. Move around you
While catch-up meetings and strategy sessions can often be held online with equal effectiveness, trying to solve problems or generate new ideas can be exciting! When confined to a small speaker window, we miss the nonverbal cues that build confidence, and before we know it, even the most outgoing employees don’t know what to say.
Simply put, there is no substitute for creative energy when we meet in person! Colleagues can bounce ideas off each other without the hassle of poor internet connections, and these private brainstorming sessions can double as important opportunities for team building.
But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes you need a change of scenery! In a TravelPerk survey, 34% Among employees who said they had the most innovative ideas on their work trip, a figure that jumped out 53% For participants in 16-24 years old.
Over the past few years, more companies have leveraged offsite capabilities, moving their creative teams when they need to find innovative solutions. With Airbnb and other sites offering accommodation with corporate groups in mind, it’s never been easier to find a place that will supercharge your teams motivation!
8. Prioritize personal retreats
While individual departments may benefit from breakthrough brainstorming sessions offsite, company-wide retreats are becoming dominant in the new hybrid working world. Formerly the reserve of digital nomads, more companies are following the lead of small remote startups and taking their teams on annual vacations.
There are a whole host of reasons why this retreat has gained popularity. Businesses realize that these events can serve a variety of purposes, from an opportunity to deliver key updates to an attention-grabbing opportunity to attract new talent. But in a hybrid work context, they are an important tool for employee motivation and retention.
Imagine this scenario. Anna lives far away from her company’s headquarters and comes to Masa to work from the office for a few days. Annually the business hosts an AGM and a thank-you dinner at a local spot. Over time, Anna found that the lack of interaction left her with little emotional connection to her coworkers and felt disconnected from the company’s goals.
Before long, Anna is scrolling through social media and sees a photo of an old school friend at a work retreat. It looks exciting, and motivating and goes the extra mile to ensure job satisfaction of employees like their company. After seeing these pictures, it becomes harder and harder to feel motivated and Anna finds herself looking for a new job.
With organizations facing stiff competition for top candidates, investing in an annual or bi-annual retreat can help employees reconnect with shared goals while providing much-needed time for team bonding and celebration! Choose an awe-inspiring destination and avoid the temptation to stuff the schedule with meetings. Plan some lazy activities and give employees free time to explore, and they’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges ahead!