The Secret to Strengthening Employee Engagement Across a Distributed Workforce
With the drastic shift in recent years from a primarily in-office workforce to a hybrid or remote workforce, work environments today look quite different than they used to.
by JazzHR + GoCo - August 28th, 2023
There are many benefits of remote and hybrid work for both employers and employees, but keeping a remote or hybrid workforce engaged and productive involves much more than just offering a virtual happy hour.
In this free collaborative ebook from JazzHR and GoCo, you'll discover strategies to:
Unleash the potential of remote work while avoiding common obstacles.
Strengthen collaboration, diversity, and productivity within your workforce.
Foster meaningful connections among your virtual team through valuable insights, platforms, and tools.
Using data-driven arguments, this ebook will show how you can revolutionize your company’s approach to building a successful remote or hybrid workforce and engage your employees like never before.
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With the drastic shift in recent years from a primarily in-office workforce to a hybrid or remote workforce, work environments today look quite different than they used to.
Although these new environments present many benefits — such as giving employees the ability to spend more time at home and reducing overhead office costs to companies — they can also lead to siloed employees, teams, and processes.
To put these challenges into perspective, according to SHRM, 90% of executives said culture and connection could be better for their remote team members. Additionally, more than 70% of workers don’t feel like they socialize enough when working remotely, making that in-office versus hybrid or remote divide even more prevalent.
This eBook highlights the importance of bringing an in-office connection to remote employees and how it can lead to overall improvements in culture, environment, collaboration, and productivity. Read on for tools, tips, and platforms, all purpose-built for driving meaningful connections in a virtual office.
Making Human Connections in a Virtual World
Over the past few years, remote and hybrid work environments have moved from being a fringe benefit to a necessity for many businesses.
As business leaders grapple with finding the right balance between traditional office work and remote work, the opportunity to harness the benefits of both methods has never been more significant.
Employers must consider the benefits and challenges associated with working remotely and discuss practical strategies to help their teams navigate this evolving landscape.
The Power of Remote Work: Unlocking a World of Opportunities
Remote and hybrid work environments hold immense potential, offering numerous benefits for employees and employers alike, including:
1 - Flexibility
By providing greater flexibility and reducing the need for time-consuming commutes, remote work arrangements empower people to maintain a more satisfying balance between their professional and personal lives. In turn, this can contribute to increased employee satisfaction, improved mental wellbeing, and, ultimately, loyalty to the company.
2 - Expanded Talent Pools
One of the most significant advantages of remote and hybrid work is the ability to access a vastly expanded talent pool. By removing geographical boundaries, companies can now tap into a diverse range of skills and knowledge, drawing upon professionals from every corner of the globe. This diversity in backgrounds and perspectives can have a profound impact on creativity, innovation, and bottom-line performance.
3 - Cost Savings
A study by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics estimated companies can save approximately $11,000 per remote employee per year. This reduction in overhead expenses is attributed to a lower need for office space and related costs. Meanwhile, employees save on commuting expenses and time, which can ultimately lead to a happier and more committed workforce
4 - Increased Productivity
Remote work allows employees to design their workspace and schedules around their personal productivity habits, avoiding the inevitable distractions of office life. Many employees find that they are more productive in a remote setting, as they can avoid distractions and time spent commuting.
5 - Environmental Benefits
Supporting remote work can positively impact the environment by reducing the need for office space and decreasing an organization’s carbon footprint. Not to mention, with less time spent on the road commuting, employees can help reduce air pollution and conserve natural resources. One study showed daily global CO2 emissions decreased by –17% by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels.
Balancing the Pros with the Cons: Addressing the Challenges of Remote Work
Despite the obvious benefits associated with remote work, there are several potential pitfalls to navigate. One of the most commonly mentioned drawbacks is the sense of isolation many remote employees experience. Without the daily interactions that come with a traditional office setting, remote individuals may feel disconnected from their teammates and the broader company culture.
To mitigate these feelings of isolation, creating a culture of open communication is essential. Encourage regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings for supervisors and their direct reports. Providing periodic feedback and acknowledging accomplishments can go a long way toward helping remote employees feel more connected to the team and the organization.
Moreover, offering opportunities for remote colleagues to meet face-to-face — whether it’s through attending annual conferences or organizing team retreats — will help strengthen bonds, promote cohesion, and foster a greater sense of belonging among your employees.
To boost camaraderie and nurture a strong company culture, you can create spaces for both formal and informal interactions among team members. Investing in collaboration tools and platforms is crucial for maintaining engagement and productivity. Project management tools like Asana, Trello, or Basecamp can help teams stay organized, on track, and connected. At the same time, communication platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams allow for seamless interaction and information sharing.
Building Connections in the Virtual Workplace
As we adapt to the new world of remote work, it’s essential to recognize the importance of maintaining human connection with our colleagues. In-person interaction is a vital ingredient for collaboration and rapport-building, and remote teams must find ways to achieve this in a virtual setting.
Addressing the challenges presented by remote and hybrid work environments is crucial to ensure success. Some of the most commonly faced challenges include:
Remote work can make it difficult to establish and maintain clear communication with colleagues, leading to misunderstandings or delays in work. In a Harvard Business Review article, 46% of remote workers cited “communicating and collaborating” with coworkers as their biggest struggle.
Clear communication is critical for effective collaboration. Remote work often requires teams to rely heavily on digital platforms to communicate tasks and progress, potentially leading to misunderstandings or delays. To overcome this, consider implementing the following:
Communication protocols: Establish standard practices for communication within the team, specifying preferred methods and response times.
Digital tools: Leverage resources like project management tools, virtual whiteboards, and video conferencing platforms to aid collaboration and communication.
Employees who work remotely can experience feelings of disconnection from their coworkers. In fact, research by Buffer found that 19% of remote workers struggle with loneliness, which can affect employee mental health and job satisfaction. Combat isolation by:
Scheduling regular team-building activities: Plan virtual or in-person events to ensure team members feel connected and valued.
Encouraging mentorship: Pair employees with experienced colleagues, not only promoting skill development but also forming supportive relationships and reducing isolation.
Team Cohesion and Culture
Building a strong company culture and team rapport can be more challenging in a virtual setting. It requires intentional efforts to create opportunities for team members to connect and engage with one another. While a strong company culture can be developed in a fully remote or hybrid workplace, it requires intentional effort. Create a cohesive company culture by:
Emphasizing company values and mission: Embed these guiding principles into everything from onboarding to internal communications, making them undeniably part of everyday work life.
Creating a digital watercooler: Use group messaging platforms and dedicated channels for non-work-related conversation, replicating the office’s casual, social atmosphere.
Accountability and Performance Evaluation
Assessing an employee’s performance and ensuring accountability can be more complex in remote settings as managers can no longer rely on traditional, office-based performance indicators. This can be overcome by a combination of the following:
Establish clear performance expectations and goals for remote employees to ensure accountability. Create a communication plan that allows remote employees to stay connected with their teams and managers, such as daily check-ins and weekly meetings.
Offer training and resources to help remote workers stay productive and track progress
Use collaborative tools such as task management systems, video conferencing software, etc., to keep remote workers engaged with the team.
Provide feedback on a consistent basis to ensure that remote workers are meeting expectations and goals.
Use analytics monitoring software to track employee activities and performance in a remote work environment.
Leverage technology such as project management tools and customer support software to help manage the workloads of remote employees efficiently.
Schedule virtual teambuilding events or online retreats periodically to promote collaboration, camaraderie, and connection among remote teams that can help reduce potential distractions from their work tasks at home/remotely
10 Ways to Build Engagement and Camaraderie Across Your Workforce
Even in a world where remote work has become more commonplace, many organizations are grappling with the challenges of keeping teams connected and fostering camaraderie. With employees scattered across different locations, it’s no longer as simple as gathering everyone in a room for a quick chat or a teambuilding exercise. In this new working landscape, maintaining a sense of community requires intentionality and creativity.
To that end, here are 10 innovative ideas for building engagement and camaraderie in remote teams. By providing unique insights into the challenges and best practices of fostering a successful remote or hybrid workforce, HR and talent leaders can leverage the tools they need to keep their teams thriving, even from a distance.
1 - Virtual Coffee Chats
Coffee chats help bridge the gap between remote employees by encouraging them to connect with colleagues on a personal level. By organizing randomized pairings for 15-minute conversations, you can introduce team members to new people within the company and foster new connections. Ideally, these chats should center around non-work topics, such as family, interests, and life experiences.
2 - Team Summits
While virtual connections are essential, nothing truly replaces face-to-face interactions. Consider organizing annual team summits that bring remote and in-person employees together for a day or two of meetings, bonding, and off-work experiences. By spending quality time together, your team can foster deeper connections and solidify relationships.
3 - Digital Games and Contests
Incorporate fun activities like digital Pictionary, trivia, or other games into your team’s online meetings. These friendly competitions can help build camaraderie and inject much-needed energy and excitement into the virtual workplace.
4 - Remote Team Workshops
Invest in professional development by organizing remote workshops and seminars that cater to various interests and skills within the team. Leveraging video conferencing platforms and breakout rooms, you can provide an engaging environment for learning and growth while also fostering teamwork and connections
5 - Customized Employee Onboarding
Ensure that every new hire feels welcomed and integrated into the company culture by providing personalized onboarding experiences. Pair new employees with a buddy or mentor to help them navigate the company and establish a support system from day one. Additionally, invite them to virtual team lunches and informal gatherings to help them meet their colleagues.
6 - Celebrate Milestones and Successes
Recognize team members’ achievements, birthdays, and work anniversaries with celebrations, whether they’re virtual or in-person. This can range from simple email shoutouts to organizing virtual parties where teammates celebrate together. Recognizing these events helps build a sense of belonging and appreciation within the team
7 - Remote Team Volunteer Opportunities
Organize virtual volunteer opportunities, such as nonprofit partnerships or online tutoring programs, and encourage team members to participate together. This not only fosters camaraderie through shared, values-driven experiences but also contributes positively to the broader community.
8 - Book Clubs and Interest Groups
Foster an environment that celebrates personal interests by facilitating organized book clubs, movie clubs, or fitness challenges that employees can join. Even an informal “channel” or feed can work for pets, plants, or crafts. This type of activity creates a sense of togetherness even when working from home and builds relationships between team members through open communication, shared interests, and a feeling of belonging.
9 - Implement Mentorship Programs
Pair remote team members in mentorship or peer support programs. By establishing formal mentorship programs, employees can learn from each other and build meaningful relationships with their peers. This can help employees expand their professional networks within the company and feel more connected to the organization.
10 - Celebrate Wins, Big and Small
Recognize and celebrate individual and team achievements. This can be done through team meetings, internal newsletters, or communication platforms. By acknowledging success, you can boost morale and motivate employees to continue performing their best.
The Changing Landscape of Work
Many companies worldwide are looking for the secret recipe for success in this new paradigm — one where boundaries between personal and professional life are increasingly blurred.
One thing is clear: Employee engagement plays a critical role in fostering a successful remote or hybrid workforce. Engaged employees are more loyal, productive, and aligned with company values, ultimately driving increased profitability and boosting your employer brand.
Employee Engagement: The Key to Unlocking a High-Performing Workforce
Employee engagement is about much more than just satisfaction or happiness. Engaged employees are those who are emotionally invested in their work, feel a sense of purpose, and are dedicated to the company’s mission and values.
By focusing on employee engagement, organizations can unlock several key benefits, including:
Increased Employee Fulfillment and Well-being
Engaged employees feel a sense of purpose at work, and they connect to the company’s mission and values. By investing in employee engagement, organizations can ensure the unique talents of their employees are recognized, valued, and nurtured. This, in turn, fosters a deep sense of fulfillment and personal well-being for the employees.
Aligning Personal Goals with Company Objectives
By focusing on employee engagement, organizations can effectively align the personal goals and aspirations of their workforce with larger organizational objectives. This alignment drives employee motivation and dedication, propelling employees and the company toward success.
Enabling Growth and Development
When employees are engaged, they are more likely to proactively take on opportunities for growth and development. By fostering a culture of learning and support, organizations can create an environment where employees thrive, adding value not only for themselves but also for the company.
Improved Company Performance and Profitability
Engaged employees are more likely to be high performers and significant contributors to the company’s success. Investing in employee engagement results in high employee productivity levels, reducing the need to “extract” their effort. Engaged employees willingly contribute to the company’s success, leading to increased performance and, ultimately, higher profitability.
Lowering Employee Turnover and Boosting Loyalty
Increased engagement can also lead to greater employee loyalty and lower turnover rates. Engaged employees are more likely to remain with a company for an extended period, minimizing the costs associated with hiring and training new employees. Furthermore, they are less likely to seek employment elsewhere — resulting in valuable expertise and knowledge remaining within the organization.
Enhanced Reputation and Recruitment Potential
At its core, employee engagement also has substantial benefits in attracting top talent and positively impacting the company’s reputation. Happy employees can become the best brand ambassadors for a company, sharing their positive work experiences with others.
A Data-Driven Approach to Employee Engagement: Conversations Regarding Remote Work
Today’s business landscape demands an approach to employee engagement that is both creative and analytical.
The role of the HR professional has evolved to encompass not only the management of people but also the active implementation of technology in creating an efficient and inclusive remote or hybrid workforce. To persuade the C-Suite and drive the necessary changes in this challenging environment, HR professionals must present a strong case built on data and insightful analysis.
Let’s explore how using data-driven arguments can revolutionize your company’s approach to building a successful remote or hybrid workforce, boosting inclusion and camaraderie, and engaging your employees like never before.
The Power of Data in Building Employee Engagement
Data provides a compass in the complex world of employee engagement. It allows employers to measure the impact of efforts, identify where their engagement initiatives may be lacking, and pinpoint the highest return on investment (ROI) opportunities. To effectively communicate the importance and benefits of employee engagement to the C-Suite, it’s crucial to arm yourself with the most pertinent and impactful data available. Let’s examine how coveted stories, research, and statistics can win over executives at the highest level of your organization.
The Cost of Disengagement: Understanding Turnover and Retention
One of the most compelling arguments for investing in employee engagement revolves around the financial implications of turnover rates. Studies have shown that the cost of replacing an employee can be as high as 30% of their annual salary. This takes into account recruitment fees, onboarding expenses, productivity loss during the vacancy period, and other related costs.
By demonstrating how a robust employee engagement program can foster company loyalty, boost morale, and ultimately reduce the financial burden of employee turnover, HR professionals can make a strong case to the C-Suite that engagement should be a top priority. Consider the following compelling statistics:
Companies with high employee engagement rates enjoy 59% lower turnover rates, according to Gallup.
Disengaged employees cost organizations approximately $450-$550 billion per year in lost productivity, as reported by The Engagement Institute.
The Future of Remote and Hybrid Workforces
The unprecedented events of recent years have greatly accelerated the shift to remote and hybrid work environments, prompting businesses to reevaluate their employee engagement strategies.
It’s vital to keep the C-Suite informed on emerging trends and challenges in achieving workplace satisfaction and productivity in these dynamic settings. By arming your executives with the latest research, you can demonstrate the importance of a strategic approach to engagement in remote and hybrid workforces.
A few notable trends and statistics worth mentioning are:
According to a study by Gartner, by 2024, in-person meetings will account for just 25% of enterprise meetings, a significant decrease from 60% before the pandemic.
A survey by Owl Labs showcases that 61% of employees would accept a pay cut to continue working remotely.
Approaching Employee Engagement with Technology on Your Side
As the modern workplace continues to evolve, it’s becoming more critical than ever to focus on employee engagement.
For example, a recent Gallup study found that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. By engaging employees, companies can increase productivity, reduce turnover, and foster a sense of camaraderie among their teams.
Tap Into the Power of an Employee Engagement Platform
Modern workforce technologies, like employee engagement platforms, offer an innovative solution to help HR professionals and managers navigate these remote and hybrid workforce challenges.
Anytime Feedback: Encouraging Recognition and Appreciation
Employee engagement platforms that encourage continuous feedback among your workforce empower a culture of positive feedback. Employees should be able to go into the platform at their convenience, send constructive feedback or appreciation, and receive instant notifications.
Not only does the feedback go to the employee, but it’s also sent to their manager. This encourages transparency and enables managers to stay in the loop regarding their team members’ accomplishments, as well as the positive impact they have on their colleagues.
Engagement Surveys: Collecting Valuable Employee Insights
Modern employee engagement platforms also provide engagement surveys, which allow organizations to gather insights into employees’ experiences and perceptions. By asking questions about employee satisfaction, engagement, leadership, and more, companies can identify potential roadblocks and uncover improvement opportunities.
These survey results can help business leaders and HR professionals make data-driven decisions and implement changes that positively impact engagement and overall employee satisfaction. By combining these insights with other features, organizations can build a more comprehensive and effective engagement strategy.
In today’s fast-paced world, remote work is becoming more and more popular as companies seek to attract the best talent from around the globe. But success can only be found by teams willing to hone in on what makes their workforce unique and foster a culture of trust.
By focusing on the most compelling parts of your culture and aligning your remote team with those values, you can create a workforce that is engaged, productive, and successful — no matter where they are in the world.
Building a strong remote workforce requires a combination of communication, culture, and the right technology. Let JazzHR support your team on your journey to cohesion and camaraderie.
JazzHR, an Employ Inc. brand, is powerful, user-friendly and affordable recruiting software built to help growing companies exceed their recruiting goals. It replaces manual, time-consuming hiring tasks with intuitive tools and automation, empowering hiring managers to recruit and hire the right talent faster. Give your candidates the experience that best represents your brand. Get started today at jazzhr.com, or contact us today.
Founded in 2015, GoCo.io is modernizing HR, benefits, and payroll with its flexible, easy-to-use, and industry-leading solutions for SMBs. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, and serving customers nationwide, its mission is to automate manual HR tasks and empower HR professionals to make work a better place. Unlike other HR platforms, GoCo is built to be flexible enough to support existing processes, policies, and providers so that SMBs don’t have to change the way they work in order to adopt a modern HR system.