By Craig Lauer | May 17, 2020
At the time of this writing, many of us are well into our third straight month of working from our homes. Although some states are beginning to show signs that reopening is not far off, it is probable the situation for many will not be changing any time soon. Here are some tips for keeping your employees engaged as they continue to work remotely.
1. Create a sense of community. It’s likely your employees are feeling isolated during this time of … well, isolation. A great way to combat feelings of detachment is to create a strong sense of community. Even though you can’t be in the same building, virtual happy hours and coffee breaks, multiplayer games, contests, karaoke parties, and other team-building activities are wonderful ways to break up the monotony and give your associates the connection they are currently lacking.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Yes, we said it three times—that’s how important it is. Your leadership team should be as transparent as possible when it comes to advice, policies, crisis response, and protocols by holding companywide meetings. Associates should also be given ample opportunities to ask questions and should be able to expect clear, concise answers to their inquiries in a timely fashion. They should also feel free to provide feedback without punitive consequences. Wherever possible, encourage the use of video for meetings. While hearing voices is definitely better than reading words on a screen, being able to look someone in the eye or see them smile can really make a positive difference.
3. Be flexible. It can be tempting to micromanage your employees while they’re working off-site. However, checking in constantly to ensure they are on task and demanding a detailed list of the work they’ve done during the day will do nothing for morale. In fact, it will only enforce the feeling that you do not trust them, and that is completely counter to good employee engagement.
Here’s an idea: Let workers control their schedules. Trusting employees to have the agency to meet deadlines, show up on time for conference calls, and get their work done slightly outside the confines of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. can go a long way. Remember, working from home comes with unavoidable interruptions, whether a child needs attention, something in the kitchen is burning, or you get an unexpected (but always welcome, of course) call from your mother-in-law. Cut your employees some slack; it will make them a lot happier, which should make them a lot more productive.
4. Explore some PD. With most of us being confined to our homes, we suddenly have some extra time on our hands. This is a great opportunity to invest in professional development for your associates. Online seminars and workshops can hone existing skill sets while online learning platforms or classes can allow employees to grow into new roles and responsibilities. This will illustrate that despite these uncertain times, you still care about your associates and their professional progression. Plus, you come away with a more skilled workforce. Win-win.
5. Recognize and celebrate successes. Acknowledgment of a job well done has always been important, even before this global crisis. However, it’s especially important now as with each day comes the struggle to fight feelings of seclusion and depression. According to a recent report by Achievers.com, recognition has the biggest impact on employee engagement. In short, recognizing employees for outstanding work will motivate them to keep it up and excel even further. Here are some tips from SHRM to get you started.