Two of the hot topics in business today—employee engagement and workplace flexibility—can often seem at odds in terms of the virtual workforce. As working from home, at client sites, or second locations has increased, this has led to a decrease in employee engagement; however, there’s more to it than mere distance. The number-one reason virtual employees are disengaged is the same reason why employees quit: their relationship with their supervisor.
At Achilles Group, we understand that the value of those relationships comes from human interaction. Direct managers and supervisors must be the ones to drive that engagement, so listed below are a few tips to help:
- Use technology to your advantage: There are a myriad of communication options for virtual teams (Skype, FaceTime, Sharepoint, Slack, Bonusly, text messages, etc.), so think of these options as a virtual way to “stop by an employee’s desk.” These types of interactions don’t have to take up a lot of time, and can be very helpful for resolving a variety of issues.
- Let’s do lunch! If at all possible, setting up an occasional time to physically meet with employees can go a long way in helping them feel not as isolated. It’s also a great way to share the company’s culture informally.
- Be more “social”: Encourage all your employees to engage with your internal website, Facebook page, etc. to help your virtual team feel connected to the bigger picture. For example, posting a video of the “virtual workspace” is a fun way to see and hear from virtual employees.
- Stop, collaborate, and listen: Work on projects together. With the aforementioned communication options, this is not as challenging as it may seem. Collaboration is one of the best ways to get employees engaged with each other to foster relationships and to feel that they are contributing to the big picture.
- Rewards and recognition: When you’re sharing company culture information during the onboarding process, it doesn’t hurt to send the employee a little company swag (such as a coffee cup, water bottle, or t-shirt) to make them feel at home. If it’s not possible to have face-to-face meetings, consider live-streaming meetings with an awards presentation or posting on your company’s internal/external social media account. Always brag about the accomplishments of virtual employees, and don’t forget to send their reward to them quickly. A nice e-card is a great option, too!
At the end of the day, your virtual employees want to feel valued and respected just the same as your on-site employees. By taking the time to think about fun new ways to engage them, managers can help put the “human” back into human resources and ensure that everyone is set up for fulfillment and success!