5 ways to ensure remote employee engagement

Remote Work & Culture

We explore ways to ensure remote employee engagement and the benefits of keeping your teammates connected.

Alexandra Cote
May 14, 2021

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

54% of workers are not engaged at work. But if you’re already running a virtual team or planning to go global, I’ve got good news: remote employees tend to be more engaged.

It’s job flexibility that keeps employees energetic and eager to put their best foot forward. Specifically, it’s the employee groups that get face-to-face time with their colleagues and have their needs catered to that report feeling engaged at work.

Being engaged at work means feeling eager to get the job done and willingly becoming involved in projects and discussions. Engaged employees feel listened to and are generally happier with the conversations they have with their teammates or managers. 

To cut to the chase, they feel connected.

This results in better employee performance and an overall happier company environment. To get these effects for your own team, we’re going over 5 sure ways of supporting remote employee engagement.

But first, let’s have a closer look at why you want to engage your remote employees.

Benefits of remote employee engagement for your distributed team

All productivity factors aside, remote employee engagement often gets overseen when it comes to all the advantages it can provide. After all, we’re talking about a qualitative metric (i.e. engagement) that’s more difficult to track and easy to neglect. Here are some of these extra benefits you’re missing out on:

  • It helps maintain a healthy remote team culture and retain your employees
  • It contributes to increasing happiness and job satisfaction levels
  • It maintains the team’s strong collaboration and prevents misunderstandings due to miscommunication or no communication
  • It promotes a culture of creativity and innovation, prompting every team member to take action and contribute to projects on their own accord
  • It reduces work absenteeism and that idle time when you just can’t seem to get in touch with a person on time
  • It improves trust and accountability
  • It drives people to deliver better quality work without the pressure

Let’s jump to the remote employee engagement ideas!

1. Offer feedback on a weekly basis 

The ideal case scenario is for managers to offer meaningful feedback weekly. Gallup has found that this makes employees 2.7 times more likely to be engaged at work. In turn, this keeps people motivated and allows them to gradually improve their performance by making use of timely feedback.

The most straightforward “tool” to help with this is a one-on-one meeting. Held at least once a week [might differ depending on the structure of your team], it gives managers the opportunity to connect with employees and, most importantly, find out what they’re struggling with.

Note: Never skip face-to-face time. One-on-ones make this easier but remember to always have your and your team member’s camera on for meetings.

Can’t keep up? Encourage peer-to-peer feedback as a standard remote employee engagement activity

There’s lots of tools like Bonusly (that we use at Panther) or Motivosity that prompt team members to thank and reward each other. The underlying principle is as simple as possible: encourage your employees to always give feedback and praise. This will keep everyone hooked on their work since they’ll know they’re valued.

2. Never let your team members feel isolated

One core issue remote team managers need to be aware of when contemplating remote employee engagement is that isolation isn’t the same as loneliness. While a person might feel lonely just because they’re working from home with no company, isolation is much easier to prevent. 

Simply getting your team together and ensuring no one’s left out of the fun keeps the risk of isolation at bay. On the other hand, loneliness is largely dependent on a person’s own mind, mood, and connection they have with their peers at work. While the latter are things you can’t change overnight, there are sure ways of supporting stronger team bonding and engagement opportunities.

Preventing employee isolation is a matter of maintaining an inclusive workplace. So the same principles apply. Organize regular team-building activities and make sure everyone gets to participate in your Slack groups, open mic sessions, Zoom lunch breaks, or team outings. Talk to your team members to discover any dangerous situations where they might have felt left out.

3. Talk to every individual before you make a decision that will impact their own work

No willingness to contribute to a project.

Lack of meeting participation and/or contribution.

Constantly missing deadlines or making mistakes.

No effort to build work relationships.

All these are common signs of a disengaged employee. Matter of fact, they’re also cues to when a person’s not happy with their work environment and is likely to leave the company.

Look at any Glassdoor company review that’s under 3 stars and you’ll understand exactly why talking to your team members before making a huge change is vital: 

Management changed.

They’re using outdated tech.

Impossible learning curve.

Workflow isn’t satisfying enough.

These are all frequently cited concerns that always result from a lack of communication between management and employees. Always get the team’s feedback when choosing new tools, resources, or deciding on switching up your workflow or management as a whole. These will radically impact the way they work and can differ from the work experience they signed up for.

4. Make the job benefits extra special (and social)

Remote employee engagement is often visible in your employer branding efforts and promises. So future candidates will know what to expect by looking at your blog posts, team interviews, or careers page.

Remote employees still struggle with team communication [especially across multiple time zones], so turning your company benefits into social opportunities is a must. Company retreats [with less work and more bonding time], shorter workdays with an hour for team members to chat, and virtual coffee breaks are all good ideas that help people unplug, focus on one another, and stay engaged. 

You can also tailor your list of perks to match new needs they might have: home office stipends, grocery allowance, letting them choose a flexible work schedule, etc. Run a poll or survey to see what kinds of benefits they’d enjoy and if there’s anything that could help them stay engaged at work.

We help you focus on the things that matter for your team by taking over your administrative duties. Panther puts your remote team's global payroll, benefits, taxes, compliance, and more in auto-pilot, so you can focus on the work that matters. Book a demo to see how we help!

5. Ask about their day

Another lesser-known way to engage remote employees is to care for their work-life balance. Regularly check up on their wellbeing to help them handle their struggles, develop professionally, and even feel better as part of your culture. 

Be wary of early disengagement signs you can get from these casual talks too. Someone could keep displaying great work performance but prefer staying out of team conversations. It’s these day-to-day interactions that let you see if a person’s pleased with their tasks, if they perhaps find value elsewhere, or just want their space to be respected without coming off as detached.

Employee feedback surveys come in handy for spotting personal issues or internal team conflicts that could be harming remote employee engagement and happiness. Keep in mind surveys only work if you go through them in detail, follow up on what’s unclear, and actually use them to make a change.

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