A woman attending a video conference meeting on her laptop and engaging with other remote workers.

Why Engaging Remote Workers Is Essential (and How to Do It)

Engaging remote workers is more than aspirational - it's essential for recruiting and retaining the best talent. Here's what you need to know.

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Of the many changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, perhaps the most dramatic was the rise of the work-from-home (WFH) culture. As businesses around the world shut their offices, what was once a fantasy for many people became a daily way of life. According to recent findings, 16% of global companies are fully remote, at least for the time being. With 70% of full-time employees working from home on a permanent basis, engaging remote workers is one of HR’s top priorities.

WFH Has Been Beneficial for Employees and Companies

Now, with Covid variants threatening a return to the traditional workplace, it looks like remote work is here to stay. The good news is that the new WFH normal has been beneficial for most employees and companies. Employees appreciate the flexibility, improved work/life balance, location independence and the elimination of time-consuming commutes. 

Recently, 80% of businesses said remote work policies have been successful, and nearly 40% reported an increase in productivity. For many businesses, WFH policies have also resulted in big cost savings. Perhaps because of these findings, many organizations plan to allow employees to continue working remotely even after a return to office life. But there is a flip side to everything, and WFH also brought about a number of new challenges for employees.

The Downsides of Remote Work

Working from home went from a dream to a reality for many people in 2020. Working in your pajamas and not having to deal with commutes was enough to make WFH an idyllic fantasy. But once employees settled into a 24/7 remote routine, unexpected challenges made the lifestyle less than appealing. Some of the harsh realities they encountered include:

  • Loneliness
  • Staying motivated
  • Technical/computer problems
  • Lack of structured routine
  • Finding reliable Wi-Fi
  • Living in a small space that’s not conducive to a home office
  • Zoom/Slack fatigue
  • Feeling detached from teammates
  • Misconstrued communications between coworkers or clients
  • Inability to unplug from work

While some employees have adapted easily to remote work, others struggle to deal with the drastic change to the traditional work environment. Many employees report feeling anxious and burned out. Loneliness and stress has led to a reduction in job satisfaction, negatively affecting interpersonal relationships with colleagues and decreased work performance.

Feeling detached and unengaged also gave employees time to rethink their careers, work conditions and long-term goals. Many did not like what they found, leading to another pandemic-related trend: The Great Resignation.

Millennial professional sits at a computer not engaging with his remote work and looks frustrated and overworked

What Is The Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation, or The Big Quit, is the global phenomenon of people voluntarily leaving their jobs with no backup. According to recent statistics, during the months of April, May and June 2021, 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. That number represents 2.7% of the national workforce, a twenty-year high.

Research from the research analytics company Gallup found 48% of the American workforce is currently actively looking to change jobs. Gallup also found that 64% of employees no longer feel engaged at work. The most common reasons Gallup found employees to be disengaged are:

  • Not seeing opportunities for development
  • Not feeling connected to the company’s purpose
  • Not having strong relationships at work

Other reasons for wanting to move on include burnout and career-related factors like wanting a promotion, a raise or greater responsibility.

For companies of all sizes, the Great Resignation can be costly. According to Gallup, for a company of 10,000 employees with an average salary of $50,000 each, disengagement costs $60.3 million a year. Replacing workers requires one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. So, it costs $9,000 a year to keep each disengaged worker and between $25,000 and $100,000 to replace them.

Engaging Remote Workers Is Essential

To better increase employee retention and counter The Great Resignation, companies and managers must ensure employees are feeling engaged and happy. Engaged employees are far less likely to leave. However, engaging remote workers is more than the occasional Zoom call. Today’s companies need to develop solid employee engagement strategies.

Engaging remote workers is the practice of investing in the two-way process between managers and employees. It describes how organizations interact with their employees to keep them involved, motivated and ultimately, happy. When employees are invested in their company, the result is improved employee retention, productivity and job satisfaction. Plus, companies that invest in employee engagement are 4 times as profitable than those that do not.

Tips for Engaging Remote Workers and Keeping them Happy

Be flexible and show trust

Studies show that employees appreciate the flexibility of remote work. According to a recent report, 43% of remote workers feel that flexible working hours improve their productivity. To that end, giving employees flexibility around when and how they work will keep them engaged and happy. Respecting their time by setting healthy boundaries around schedules, assignments and performance expectations is important. Trusting employees to get the job done in a remote environment is vital for employee engagement and creating a healthier work-life balance.

Recognize Employee Efforts and Accomplishments

No matter where they are, employees crave recognition for their hard work. In fact, a lack of recognition is the third biggest reason people consider leaving their jobs. With employees already feeling detached, it is important that managers give employees the chance to give and receive recognition. Sharing positive feedback, glowing customer reviews or a shout-out for a successful project will foster a culture of appreciation and employee engagement.

Send a thoughtful care package

Customized care packages are an ideal way to make remote employees feel appreciated, especially when teams can not be together in person. Managers can choose a monthly theme and send employees related items in a care package that arrives on employees’ doorsteps. No matter what is in them, care packages are a fun way to let employees know they are being thought of wherever they are.

Create an employee store

Opening an employee store is one of the best ways companies can show their employees they care. A store gives employees exclusive discounts on products a brand sells. For brands that sell expensive or luxury items, an employee store gives employees access to products they might otherwise not be able to afford. The employee store can be expanded to include friends-and-family sales which lets an employee’s immediate circle access exclusive pricing as well. Offering sales to employees and their close friends builds internal brand-affinity, boosts engagement, loyalty and retention. It can also lend itself to greater employee happiness, improved company culture and greater productivity. 

Show appreciation

It goes without saying employees want to feel appreciated for their efforts, no matter where they are. Showing appreciation is a simple yet effective way to motivate and engage remote employees. Little gestures like a simple thank you or a genuine compliment can have a big impact on employee happiness. When employees feel appreciated they are more likely to go above and beyond for their employer.

Host virtual team building sessions and casual hangouts

Holding periodic virtual get togethers is an ideal way to keep employees engaged and excited to be part of the team. This can be done through any variety of virtual channels, from Google Hangouts to the now-ubiquitous Zoom or Slack. It is important to keep these meetings light and fun and centered on non-work-related chats. Timing them around the delivery of care packages can amp up the fun factor.

Hold one-on-one sessions

Beyond team meetings, it is important for managers to connect with employees individually. While feeling like part of the team is important, chatting one-on-one makes people feel special. Chat with them about their families and hobbies, their mental or emotional health or how they are handling their workload. Doing so can help relieve stress, anxiety and help avoid burnout by making an employee feel appreciated and cared for.

The Takeaway: Engaging Remote Workers Pays Off

Engagement tips like those above should be standard work practices, no matter where employees are. It is important that managers find the time in their own busy schedules to put these practises into action. Those that do will be rewarded with happy employees, stronger teams, greater productivity and an avoidance of The Great Resignation.

eCommerce employee stores are one the most effective ways to keep employees engaged with your eCommerce company. But the logistics of setting one up can be challenging. Scalefast can help with all aspects of creating and launching a dedicated store for your employees and their families. Talk to an eCommerce expert today to see how Scalefast can help with specialty stores and all of your eCommerce needs.

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