Engaging Remote Employees
Pick any successful entrepreneur, and they’ll tell you that remote employee engagement is a key concern for the future of their business in 2022. With more than 52 percent of employees questioning the purpose of their jobs after the pandemic, keeping employees — especially remote employees — invested in your business in the wake of COVID-19 can be challenging.
Why is this happening? In short, many employees (and especially millennial and Gen Z workers) are growing increasingly frustrated with old attitudes toward work. Being “lucky to have a job” simply doesn’t cut it as an excuse to work anymore; instead, people want to feel connected, inspired by and enamored with the work they do. This is especially true of remote employees, who may feel lonely after making the switch to an at-home work schedule.
Many leaders make the mistake of confusing workplace culture with employee engagement. Unfortunately, that mistake can prove disastrous for a company’s turnover rate: despite employers providing amenities such as work-from-home schedules, a shocking 43-53 percent of the overall workforce still describes itself as “bored.” Similarly, nearly half of all workers are on the hunt for a new career, regardless of whether they work on- or off-site.
Clearly, the data show that offering remote work isn’t enough to be a “forward-thinking” business anymore. Instead, leaders should be looking to provide what workers have always looked for in a career: an engaging job that helps professionals use their skills in ways that provide value and feel meaningful. More than that, they need an executive with a concrete vision that they can rally behind.
How do you ensure those things? Here are some ways to start engaging remote employees.
1. Start with a strong purpose statement
Are you able to define what you’re doing and why you’re doing it in under a minute? Most executives can’t. Unfortunately, being unable to succinctly state the purpose of your organization goes hand-in-hand with an unmotivated workforce. To more clearly define your reason for being, it helps to create an organizational purpose statement that inspires both regular and remote employees.
When crafting a strong purpose statement, neither traditional nor remote employees want to hear stale buzzwords or uninspired corporate poetry. Nobody works at a diaper company to “nourish the hearts and minds of young mothers by developing best-in-class infant solutions.” However, “making the lives of moms easier by offering no-nonsense hygiene products that just makes sense” feels real, authentic and achievable.
A unified purpose helps remote employees understand their objective every single day, even if they’re not physically present at your workplace. Without one, you’ll find yourself talking in circles about why your doors open each morning… and soon enough, your remote employees could be checked out for good.
2. Demonstrate trust up-front
There are companies that monitor their remote employees’ screens every minute of the day. If you’re an executive who has toyed with the idea of doing that — for productivity’s sake, for holding workers accountable, or for any other reason — it’s time to stop.
Are your remote employees children? No. Much like you, they are adults who are driven, capable and smart. With very few exceptions, almost all workers want to perform well at a company they like. In fact, a telltale sign of a drab, uninspiring company is one that needs to constantly monitor its employees in order to make sure they’re not growing bored at their desks.
What’s more, if your remote workforce feels constantly monitored, you’ll erode any trust that existed between you when you hired them. Not only will the ensuing resentment lead to a lack of inspiration among your employees, but it will also drive up your turnover rates considerably.
You might ask: “What if my employee decides to shirk work for an hour during the afternoon to do laundry, or take their dog for a walk?” The answer is: “So what?” So what if your remote workforce takes a break to accomplish chores or have a mid-morning snack?
Does that mean they’re a terrible employee? Absolutely not.
Again, your employees are adults. They know how they work best, and they know what work needs to get done each day. Rest assured that the work will get done — and if, for some reason, it doesn’t, you can reassess whether an individual employee is right for a remote work setup.
3. Don’t motivate employees, inspire them
If a big project comes down the pipeline, your remote workers are going to look to you to unite and inspire them. In order to do that, you have to be inspired yourself. What excites you about the work you do? Why do you love your clients? Why did you get into this business in the first place, and how can you bring that same energy back into your current project? Think on these things, and then pass that attitude onto your remote workforce.
Conversely, never motivate your remote employees to finish a project. That might sound strange, but in order for it to make sense, we’ll need to take a look at the difference between the words “inspiration” and “motivation.” Unlike inspiration, which is rooted in excitement, energy and a genuine desire to accomplish something, motivation is rooted in fear, coercion and anxiety.
Knowing that they’ll lose their jobs if they don’t do well on a project is exactly the kind of motivation you’ll want to avoid instilling in your employees. The same goes for pay cuts, competitive bonuses or other dog-eat-dog business tactics. These might get you results in the short term, but in the long term, your company will suffer from employee burnout, high turnover rates, an untrustworthy employee roster and more.
Help your remote workforce plug back in
There are countless additional ways to start unifying and engaging remote employees. While this blog can only cover several tactics, our coaches can provide many more tips and tactics for boosting your remote employee engagement. Book a free consultation with us today to learn more about our unique coaching process.