How to Build Engagement In Your Remote Team
There are a lot of perks to remote work. Remote workers can ditch long commutes and don’t have to worry about being home in time to see their kids 10 minutes before they go to bed. However, without engagement, remote work can also lead to employees feeling disconnected from their work, leading to burnout.
According to a recent Gallup poll, the average employee engagement rate is only 36%. This is costly for companies, as a lack of engagement directly impacts employee turnover.
Gallup also finds that replacing employees can cost up to two times their annual salary (meaning if your employee gets paid $70,000 a year, your company could pay as much as $140,000 to replace them!). That’s why management must create team engagement in a remote environment. Here’s how.
1. Make an Effort to Connect With Your Team
Remote work can sometimes feel isolating, so it’s vital to take the time to connect with your team on both a professional and a personal level. Wish your employees a happy birthday. Acknowledge them on their work anniversaries. Congratulate them on a job well done or other accomplishments (i.e., if someone just got their MBA, shout it out in a Slack channel or email!). If your team sees you making an effort to connect with them, they’ll reciprocate.
2. Help Employees Find Purpose in Their Work
Obviously, you want the business to turn a profit. But if your employees don’t find their work purposeful, they’re less likely to stay or be engaged at work. Employees who believe their work is meaningful are more productive, engaged, and less likely to leave a company.
But how do you help your employees find meaning at work when their job doesn’t focus on something that’s close to their heart?
One easy way to start is by looking at your company’s purpose. Emphasize to your team how their role helps further that purpose. If your company permits it, encourage employees to take paid time off to volunteer for causes they care about. Or, consider offering professional development opportunities so they can expand their skill sets.
3. Build Trust With (and Across) Your Team
We all want to ensure our teams are productive. However, make sure that you’re not veering into micromanagement. Do you require employees to CC you on every email? Are you pinging them for an update multiple times a day?
Micromanagement is frustrating at best. At worst, it sends the subtle message that you don’t believe your team can do their expected work. Many people mistakenly believe that remote workers are lazy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even though you can’t see your team, you can build trust with your employees and be confident they are working.
Instead of constantly pinging your team on Slack for updates, arrange weekly or biweekly one-to-one check-ins to ask about their progress and where you can provide support. Holding team meetings can also help to build trust and connection.
At the same time, set clear expectations for how your team can best get in touch with you if they need your support. Maybe that means holding weekly office hours for them to drop in and ask questions. Consider setting a clear procedure to follow when the matter is regarding something more urgent.
4. Offer Recognition for a Job Well Done
It can be challenging for remote workers to stay motivated when they lack a real connection to their colleagues and the company. That’s why motivating your workers and applauding them when they do well is essential. If someone could jump in and cover for someone, thank them. If they successfully pacified a difficult customer, acknowledge that they did a great job.
No matter how great your team is, no one is perfect, and mistakes will happen from time to time. Rather than get caught up in a contentious blame game, focus on how to correct it and ensure it doesn’t consistently happen moving forward. Positive interactions with management and fellow team members strengthen bonds between workers and boosts employee motivation.
5. Streamline Communications With Messaging Tools
When your team is working remotely, coworkers can’t just run down the hall to ask a question. Take the time to set your team up for success by utilizing different tools to streamline communications.
Your team can’t communicate effectively by relying on email alone. You’ll need various tools to host meetings, collaborate, and allow colleagues to bond. Some popular tools for remote communications include Zoom, Google Meets, Webex, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and RocketChat.
To communicate effectively, you need to consider what tool is appropriate for your intended purpose and how your team adapts to different programs. For example, if you want to send a quick thank-you for debugging a web page at the last minute, something like Slack or Teams may be more appropriate than a video meeting.
At the same time, you probably don’t want to have a team check-in over Slack. In that case, a tool such as Google Meets or Webex is more appropriate.
As you would in the office, always communicate clearly with your team. Don’t force them to decode your personal shorthand. Also, don’t send an email followed by several Slack messages asking the same question. Allow your team time to respond and be mindful when scheduling meetings, especially since many remote teams may work in different time zones.
6. Prioritize Wellness
Remote work can sometimes blur the lines between work and home, leading to burnout. Help your team establish clear boundaries and a healthy work-life balance, so they’re more energized, engaged, and happier at work.
One of the best ways to implement this is to model it with your own behavior. Are you sending emails to employees at 10 p.m. on a Friday? Do you joke casually about never having time for a vacation? These behaviors, although subtle, send the wrong message to your team.
Start modeling and communicating about healthy boundaries and habits for your team. Tell them you don’t expect them to answer emails after work hours or to be on Slack when they’re at the beach with their family. Encourage them to establish an official time to “clock out” and put the computer away.
If you can, consider creating wellness perks for remote employees, such as a meditation program or an online yoga subscription. These are just a few simple steps to help your remote team achieve a healthier work-life balance.
Successfully Creating Team Engagement
Engaging a team spread out across the country (or the world) may seem like an impossible task, but that’s far from the truth. Managers can create highly engaged remote teams by setting clear expectations, streamlining communications, and prioritizing healthy work habits.
For more great tips on building trust and engagement with your remote team, check out the remote work articles section!
By Jennifer Parris | Categories: Remote Management