Keeping Employees Engaged During COVID-19

work from home employees

With COVID-19 pushing employees out of the office and into their homes, new questions and challenges emerge. Do we have the right communication tools in place? How can I ensure the team is seeing important content and staying productive? Do I always need to wear pants? We get it. This sudden transition to remote working caught many companies and employees off guard. And while we can’t help you with the wardrobe questions (some things you have to figure out on your own), we can provide you with some tips and best practices to keep remote employees engaged. 

Work-from-Home Statistics to Keep In Mind

First, let’s allay some fears. If you’re concerned about your employees suddenly working remote, these statistics might help to ease your concerns.

Remote working can help increase:

  • Employee Retention – Remote employees are 13% more likely to stay at their current jobs for 5+ years.
  • Employee Productivity86% of employees say they’re most productive when they work alone.
  • Employee Productivity (again) – 77% of millennials report that flexible work makes them more productive. 
  • Employee Productivity (seriously) – 83% of employees feel they do not need an office to be productive.

The bottom line? Working from home, doesn’t automatically translate into not being productive. Your employees still want to work. They still have goals, deadlines, and deliverables that need to be met. That doesn’t change.

What does change is how you interact with your team and, more importantly, how you keep them engaged with the work, their colleagues, and the company. 

5 Tips For Improving Work-from-Home Engagement

1) Invest in the Right Tools

One of the quickest ways to kill employee engagement is to force the team to use outdated tools, technologies, and procedures. The systems that work in an office environment don’t necessarily work for remote workers. 

At a minimum, you want to ensure you have tools and solutions in place to meet the following needs:

  • Brainstorming/White boarding
  • Meetings
  • File Storage/Retrieval
  • Project/Task Management
  • File Collaboration

Wherever possible, look for opportunities to ease any friction that is keeping your employees from maximizing their productivity. 

Not sure where to start, ask your employees what systems/tools/technologies are currently causing the biggest frustrations. Then search for alternatives. 

2) Embrace Video

Wherever possible, try to incorporate video into your internal communications. Whether it’s a free system like Google Hangouts or a paid solution like Zoom, video conferencing can help your team feel more connected and engaged with each other. Plus, it can help provide employees with a little extra motivation to look presentable and avoid the temptation to multitask during a meeting. 

Unless you’re using video conferencing regularly, it can be a little weird when you first start getting into it. Dealing with the anxiety of being on camera can seem daunting at first, but, as with most things in the workplace, you and your employees will quickly get used to it. 

3) Over-Communicate

Heading to lunch? Let your team know.

Going heads down on a project? Shoot your employees a message. 

Knocking out your to-do list? Update your team on your progress. 

The more you communicate with your remote team, the more engaged that team will be. It’s almost impossible to over-communicate in the remote work environment. The more you communicate, the more you set the expectation on the level of communication your employees should have. 

Whereas it might seem a bit on the micro-managing side to have your employees tell each other when they’re taking a break in the office, in a work-from-home environment, announcing that you’re taking a 15-minute break can help keep your team aligned and ensure everyone understands what people’s availability and response times will be.

You don’t want to be a micro-manager, but you may wish to consider adding one or a few of the following into your office’s work-from-home policy:

  • 1: Daily check-ins 
  • 2: Publicly shared to-do lists
  • 3: End-of-Day recaps
  • 4: Lunch and wellness break announcements

4) Take Time to Celebrate

Even long-term remote workers will tell you; there is something special about those water cooler chats and impromptu in-office celebrations. Remember, your team is working just as hard in their remote office as they would be in a physical office. Be sure you’re taking the time to celebrate your team’s victories.

Don’t feel like you can only celebrate your wins in large team settings. While it can mean the world to some team members to get a public shout-out, other team members may prefer more frequent praises and celebrations.

Consider scheduling regular virtual happy hours or coffee meetings where the team can discuss and celebrate recent wins – surprise and delight employees with random gift cards or a few bucks for lunch or beer. 

5) Launch an Employee Advocacy Program

Employee advocacy programs are hands-down one of our favorite ways to improve employee engagement. An employee advocacy program is reasonably straightforward. Your employees join your program by connecting their personal social media accounts. Once they’ve joined, you can then distribute new content to them through the program. They can then easily share that same content directly to their social media accounts. 

Use your employee advocacy program to share your latest marketing content, case studies, new client announcements, and other key pieces of business information. Even better, use your program to help share third-party content that you believe your employees would find valuable. 

As they participate, your employees can earn points and rewards to further drive engagement with the program as well as with the overarching mission of your company.

Increase Engagement to Drive Remote Success

Remote working isn’t going away. It may soon become the standard way of doing business. For your company to be successful in a 100% work-from-home environment, you need to ensure you have the systems and processes in place that help to foster and encourage employee engagement.

Want to learn more about how an employee advocacy program can help your team stay connected and engaged (while also supporting your marketing efforts)? We can help. Schedule your free demonstration of the SocialToaster platform today, and one of our employee advocacy strategists will work with you to develop a strategy that is directly aligned with the goals and needs of your team.

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