How To Engage Remote Employees? : 12 Simple Strategies For Virtual Employee Engagement

September 19, 2023
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One of the rising trends with hybrid remote work is ‘quiet quitting.’ It is when employees put minimum effort into getting the job done. 

Many HR heads and managers are introducing strategies, such as internal mobility and upskilling, to keep their employees engaged. However, it is not a cost-effective and sustainable solution. Hence, HR managers must develop policies to increase employee engagement and improve productivity for a competitive edge. 

Source

Here is a snippet from a study by Buffer, which shows that employees struggle to manage remote work. From communication to maintaining a work-life balance, employees need HR managers to strategically intervene and reiterate HR policies to promote a healthy hybrid working environment. 

This post will discuss 12 simple strategies to boost remote employee engagement. 

Strategy# 1 Active Communication  

Communicate, but avoid redundant interactions. Many companies employ asynchronous meetings and multiple feedback loops to keep employees engaged. While it leaves an impression of an engaged workforce, it can foster quiet quitters in the workplace. To ensure meaningful conversations, deploy the following strategies:

  • Communicate the expectations with the employees to clarify their roles, responsibilities and objectives. 
  • Create shared virtual spaces to ensure prompt and active communication while enabling flexibility. 
  • Create a dedicated personal user guide for each employee to outline their meeting preferences, personal and professional values, working hours, problem-solving approaches and communication preferences.

Strategy# 2 Set Guidelines For Remote Work 

Remote work can make it difficult for employees to create a work-life balance, having them work around the clock. As an HR manager, setting healthy guidelines for remote workers will boost productivity without burnout. 

  • Specify the working hours to ensure a work-life balance while emphasising the importance of disconnecting after work.
  • Define preferred communication channels for different types of communication, such as urgent matters, routine updates or collaborative discussions.
  • Develop a transparent evaluation process for remote employees, focusing on performance, growth opportunities and career development.

Additionally, you can monitor the workload to prevent burnout. This involves setting realistic goals, regular check-ins, deploying specific tools and assessing performance over particular periods. 

Strategy# 3 Embrace Flexibility 

Hybrid working models facilitate flexibility in the working environment. However, many employees feel burdened working around the clock without a break. Hence, you must strategically take advantage of this flexibility to promote a better work-life balance. 

For instance, consider an employee who is a single parent and requires flexibility in their work schedule to pick up their child from school. You can adjust their working hours, accommodating their home responsibilities to foster productivity at work. This flexibility not only aids the employee in achieving an improved work-life balance but also underscores the organisation's dedication to supporting its employees' well-being. 

Strategy# 4 Celebrate Wins  

As per the Buffer study mentioned above, 11% of employees don’t feel motivated to work. This can be addressed in two ways:

  1. Recognition- Recognise and appreciate your remote employees for each small milestone and every extra voluntary contribution. This can be a simple gesture, such as a Slack message in the team group highlighting their achievement. 
  2. Performance- Sharing the performance of each employee creates a sense of responsibility and motivates employees to perform better. Invest in detailed feedback or upskilling modules for employees lacking performance.

Strategy# 5 Use the Right Technology 

Managing and engaging employees in a hybrid work environment demands the right tech stack to ensure smooth workflow and cut unnecessary friction. This will include having a dedicated SaaS tool for communication, meetings, project management, etc. 

For instance, a marketing agency working across the globe employs Microsoft Teams for real-time communication, Trello for project management and Google Workspace for document collaboration.

Creating a dedicated tech stack ensures cost efficiency and reduces training costs of technical products. This becomes even more critical for global teams, where HR managers may require additional tools to handle tasks like timely payroll and other HR necessities. 

For companies with an Indian team, Rapid becomes your helping hand to manage HR and compliance requirements. With our team of experts navigating India’s complex legal structure for 25+ years, you stay on top of your HR functions. With a complete focus on core competencies, you can better engage employees.

Strategy# 6 Avoid Micromanagement 

Micromanaging, especially with remote employees, creates higher resistance to taking the initiative and fosters disengagement at large. You can ensure trust and autonomy with the following steps:

  • Define expectations and deliverables for remote employees, ensuring they understand their roles and responsibilities.
  • Shift the focus from monitoring every action to evaluating outcomes and results, trusting employees to manage their tasks.
  • Implement structured regular check-in meetings to review progress, address concerns and provide support, focusing on goals and achievements.

Strategy# 7 Digitise Rewards & Recognition Program 

The fear amongst remote employees of restricted growth opportunities demands companies digitise their rewards and recognition programs. You can improve your recognition program by adopting the following tactics:

  • Making it public: Acknowledge achievements through company-wide emails or virtual meetings.
  • Frequent recognition: Recognise remote employees consistently to boost their morale and motivation.

To promote such an initiative, Rapid has the option for giving incentive payments, where you can set up custom programs to meet business needs. 

For instance, you reward remote employees with personalised gift cards or bonuses based on their specific achievements and contributions, say completing a major project ahead of schedule or consistently exceeding performance targets. With Rapid, you can add custom rules/policies and get complete visibility over your program. 

Strategy# 8 Create a Collaborative Work Environment 

With remote and hybrid work environments, employees can feel disconnected and lonely. You can create a sense of belongingness by encouraging a collaborative workforce with tactics such as:

  • Assign accountability partners to each employee, creating a group of interconnected employees. In addition to fostering accountability for increased productivity, employees network better and even heighten knowledge sharing.
  • Use virtual meetings to discuss project progress and success to keep teams on the same page and enable better collaboration. Although time-zone differences are common, planning it on a fixed, regular schedule (for instance, every Monday at noon IST) will enable quality participation and avoid absenteeism.
  • Encourage collaborative goal-setting to foster alignment, teamwork and a shared sense of purpose. For instance, a marketing team can collaboratively set goals for paid media marketing by hosting a virtual meeting to brainstorm objectives, discuss timelines and gather stakeholder input.

Strategy# 9 Social Interaction 

Engaging employees in a hybrid work environment means combating isolation and fostering a sense of belongingness. You can encourage social interaction among remote employees with the following tactics:

  • Plan virtual team-building activities and games that promote collaboration and bonding, such as online trivia competitions or collaborative problem-solving challenges like building a digital puzzle together.
  • Introduce gamification elements into work processes to make tasks more engaging and competitive, like creating leaderboards to track performance or awarding badges/points for achievements.
  • Organise regular team meetings for casual catch-ups, updates and sharing experiences to create a sense of community. However, do not make them mandatory, which can be an added burden for employees. 

Strategy# 10 Offer an Exceptional Onboarding Experience 

A well-structured onboarding experience sets the tone for a positive remote work journey and builds a sense of belonging. HBR suggests these four goals for successful remote onboarding. 

  1. Start fast with simple projects to keep them busy during downtime.
  2. Encourage relationship-building with simple tactics like turning on cameras or having informal conversations.
  3. Communicate company culture to help employees settle within teams faster by telling them about the team's core values, processes, hierarchy and culture.
  4. Provide a complete written plan with 30-60-90-day goals to clarify expectations and boost productivity. 

In addition to these, ensure a smooth onboarding process for remote employees with the following steps:

  • Provide new hires with the tools, software and equipment to perform their roles.
  • Conduct comprehensive remote onboarding training that covers company culture, policies and job-specific training.
  • Assign a mentor or buddy to welcome and guide new employees, helping them integrate into the team.

Most importantly, document the entire process to create a streamlined onboarding process and avoid unnecessary friction. 

For global companies with teams in India, Rapid manages the entire onboarding process. While you decide the terms and policies, we create a digitised virtual onboarding experience for your remote employees.

Strategy# 11 Gather Feedback 

Gathering employee feedback is a tool to gauge engagement levels. This can be done by conducting surveys focused on indicators such as pride in the employer, job satisfaction, recognition and prospects for future growth within the organisation. However, you must maintain open communication channels, making it easy for remote employees to voice their opinions, ask questions and share feedback. 

Use the gathered feedback to measure engagement and make data-driven improvements in your remote work policies, culture and support systems. Here are some examples to show this in action:

  • If feedback highlights that employees struggle with work-life balance, consider revising policies to emphasise the importance of taking breaks and disconnecting after work hours. 
  • If remote workers feel disconnected from the organisation's mission or values, create initiatives that reinforce the organisation's mission and values and involve remote employees in discussions and decision-making processes.
  • If feedback suggests that remote employees struggle with mental health, enhance your support system by offering mental health resources, employee assistance programs (EAPs) or stress management workshops.

Strategy# 12 Offer Ongoing Training And Development Opportunities

Remote employees have this constant fear of getting fewer opportunities for growth due to a lack of visibility. However, you must ensure that career development opportunities are merit-based, ensuring employees feel valued. 

For continuous growth and development opportunities, share transparent long-term career paths, outlining the skills and achievements required for progression. Additionally, offer ongoing training programs, webinars and resources to help remote employees develop professionally. These efforts will give employees faith and confidence, fostering engagement and long-term vision.

For instance, a remote developer wants to upskill. You can provide them with weekly skill-building webinars on new programming languages and tools and sponsor relevant certifications for career advancement. This investment in employee growth strengthens the commitment towards the company's long-term vision, resulting in increased engagement and loyalty.

Driving Rapid Remote Employee Engagement

As an HR manager, you can boost virtual employee engagement by understanding the core reason for disconnect and strategic efforts. It is all about creating a sense of belongingness and giving opportunities to grow in the career. 

With Rapid, we help global companies achieve this by digitising the experience. Even though we are the legal employer handling the payroll, we ensure that the company policies are not compromised. We enable you to customise each step, from onboarding to managing remote teams, for consistent HR policies and company culture. 

Looking for an employer of record to oversee the team in India without losing your company value? Sign up with Rapid to start your EOR journey today.

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