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5 Sure-Fire Ways To Increase Employee Engagement and Happiness In Remote-First Companies

In 2022, what is going to distinguish the best remote-first companies from the rest is their level of employee engagement. WFHomie works with remote teams...

CJ Cowan

by CJ Cowan - March 1st, 2022


In 2022, what will distinguish the best remote-first companies from the rest is their level of employee engagement. We have learned much about what remote workers want and need from management.

We want to pass these insights and tools on to remote office managers and their employees. Why? Because it's our mission to improve the work lives of remote workers and the business outcomes of remote-first companies. 

Here are five methods remote team managers can use to amplify their company's employee motivation and engagement strategies.

Why is employee engagement critical to a company's success?

What does employee engagement mean? Employee engagement measures how much an employee believes their work matters within a company and the broader world. Does their employer recognize this work? Are they contributing to something greater than themselves?

This is not the same as employee satisfaction or employee happiness. It is possible for remote workers to be satisfied or happy with a position that they feel ultimately doesn't have significance just because it pays well.

You don't want satisfied employees. Satisfied employees don't push the envelope or give their projects discretionary effort. Happy employees don't change the world, and they don't help build the unicorns of tomorrow. It's simply not enough.

Employee engagement is also an emotional response to a company's culture and values. Still, a unique Philo-spiritual edge to employee engagement makes it better than other employee benchmarks.

This is important to a company's success because engaged employees are invested in its business success and customer experience because they feel it matters, has meaning, and bends the arc of history closer to heaven.

It's not just fun perks and good pay driving them; they care about manifesting their company's long-term goals. According to Gallup, high employee engagement can increase a company's profitability by 21%!

Communicating to remote employees how their daily tasks, however seemingly small, benefit not only the company but the customer and the world at large is among the most important fundamental drivers of engagement. This will increase productivity to a whole new level.

A woman in a seater sitting on a couch working remotely on her laptop.

Employee Motivation and engagement strategies for remote-first Companies

1. Job crafting

What is job crafting, and why does it matter? Job crafting is a set of tools and techniques to make your role at a company better suited to you and your passions. The employee usually initiates this. They communicate to their manager what tasks in their job description should be added, rethought, or removed entirely from their responsibilities.

This is important because it allows the employee to have agency and responsibility within their company to decide how best to use their time and skills to achieve their company's business aspirations. This will increase overall engagement rather than the alternative, pressuring employees to complete tasks they know have little or no positive impact on the company.

Job crafting can also be a top-down approach. Hiring managers can write job descriptions with employee engagement in mind. Illustrate the greater significance and meaning to the company and the world of the position's responsibilities to potential applicants. This will attract high-performing applicants and improve engagement from the outset.

There are three types of job crafting as described by the Harvard Business Review:

  • Task Crafting means changing the type, breadth, and amount of tasks an employee does, e.g., spending less time on email and more time on sales calls.

  • Relational Crafting means changing when and with whom you interact when conducting your duties, e.g., marketing working closely with the sales teams or developers working entirely async.

  • Cognitive Crafting - actively changing how you think about and conceptualize your job and its greater significance.

2. Time affluence

Time is not a renewable resource and smart people value it. One way you can show you value your remote workers and show them you trust them to be responsible with your brand is to allow them to self-manage when they do their work.

For employees new to remote work, the amount of discretion they have in managing their own time is a way better work benefit than any other perks and swag drops that come with a new job. Reward employees with paid time off rather than with bonuses, and you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Do you want your employees to feel they're active and responsible champions of your brand goals? Do away with bean counting, mandatory meetings, and rigid schedules!

Avoiding micromanaging your employees and trusting them to take their work seriously is an uncomfortable yet necessary first step towards success in a remote-first company.

According to a YouGov survey, 63% of remote workers tout flexible hours as a significant benefit of working remotely. Managers of remote-first companies need to consider this when making managerial decisions.

Everyone has a chronotype. A chronotype is an individual's kind of circadian rhythm that is built into their biology. It influences a person's concentration and productivity at certain times of the day. 

Some people are early birds, and some are night owls. Forcing people to work arbitrarily is unfair and inefficient, especially in remote-first workspaces.

Let your team set their hours!

3. Make living space workable.

Remote-first companies save money on office expenses, but remote workers absorb many of those costs. Home offices are not cheap to furnish! Quality webcams and headsets don't fall from the sky...well, not usually.

Reap the rewards of not having to pay rent and utilities for a space only used eight hours a day, but you should pass some of these savings onto your remote employees. 

One of the perks you can offer potential employees is a generous stipend for home office furniture like standing desks and ergonomic chairs.

Willingness to invest money and material into your team signals to your employees that you believe that they matter on a human level and that what the company does has significance worthy of buttressing with both human capital and venture capital. Companies that want to cash in on trends don't go out of their way to attract and retain the best people.

4. Recognize and celebrate team wins.

Acknowledging business and team success and the achievements of individual team members is one of the best ways to overcome employee engagement challenges. If employees are to know that what they do matters and the value of their contributions to shared goals, sometimes they need to be explicitly told.

Letting this happen organically, like in office-first environments, will not suffice in remote-first companies. Digital barriers, like Zoom calls, make this harder to happen spontaneously.

One way to do this deliberately is to have every member during regular meetings share one thing they believe they did well that day/week and one thing they think a colleague did well.

Encouraging remote employees to champion their work makes them believe in and internalize their merits. Having other team members express their praise for others makes it easier for everyone to believe in their worth.

Stop calling this humble bragging. Everyone battles imposter syndrome, and we should help each other overcome it and boost employee morale.

5. Provide growth opportunities

Top talent always looks for ways to grow, develop new skills, and improve lives. If your remote-first company cannot or refuses to provide these opportunities, top performers will look elsewhere for greener pastures.

These opportunities could be stipends for additional education or training or avenues for promotion and advancement within the company. If you show them that you want to enrich their lives and careers, they'll put in the discretionary effort to enrich your company.

You should also not discourage employees' side hustles that they're passionate about, e.g., selling crafts on Etsy or starting a gaming channel on YouTube.

Don't be greedy if your remote worker's talents.

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