Encouraging remote employee engagement can provide substantial benefits to an organization, such as better efficiency, camaraderie, and productivity.

5 Ways to Encourage Employee Engagement With a Remote Team

Being a manager that’s tasked with employee engagement is an uphill battle: just 30% of employees feel engaged in their job. When you work on a remote team, the problem increases drastically. In many cases, this can make your distributed workforce feel like a bunch of strangers rather than a cohesive package. To counteract this effect, many managers and employers must discover new methods and ways to encourage employee engagement.

However, managers also have other responsibilities that can prevent them from constantly taking the reins. As a result, these same managers are also searching for ways to increase employee engagement without managerial intervention. If this describes your current scenario, here are some tips you can follow as an employer or manager to help your team socialize, interact, and grow stronger as a unit.

1. Ask for a Volunteer to Schedule Activities

If you’re a manager that’s grown tired of organizing employee engagement events every week or month, pass the torch to a trusted employee. Some employees are natural organizers and socializers. As such, they’re the perfect fit to put together various events through Zoom or Slack. In most instances, you won’t have to dole out any extra money or favors. Just make sure to thank your valiant volunteer for freeing up some time for you. But remember, a small gift never hurt anyone.

2. Plan a Weekly Event

Whether you have a workhorse volunteer or you just have a bit of time, you can encourage employee engagement by planning a weekly event. The idea is to make them entirely voluntary. By doing so, you—as a manager—aren’t on the hook for attending them (and free to tackle other projects). But you give everyone the option of joining in at their leisure. Some great ideas for weekly events with remote employees include:

  • Employee trivia
  • Show and tell
  • Water cooler talk (sports, movies, fashion, etc.)
  • Themed discussions (think Game of Thrones or some other pop culture)
  • Open discussion about concerns/COVID-19
  • Casual hangouts
  • Real-time lunch breaks

Having a weekly event with a set time each week allows your employees to plan around the schedule. As a result, you might see an uptick in employee engagement.

3. Boost Employees’ Health and Well-Being

As a manager, your employees’ health and well-being should be a top priority, especially during COVID-19. Without healthy employees, your business can suffer dramatically. You don’t have the right staff to get work done, and the people you normally count on aren’t around. Therefore, you should make every effort possible to boost mental and physical well-being. Both of these benefits have been linked to higher employee engagement, as well as a more productive work atmosphere.

To boost the health and wellness of your employees, you have many options. And once you’ve launched a particular program, you can take a backseat and let the employees run it themselves. Some initiatives for health and well-being might include:

  • Nature photography contests, which encourage your remote team to go outside
  • Morning yoga or Tai Chi meetings
  • Midday meditation on Zoom

4. Turn Mundane Tasks Into Fun Ones

Mundane work, also known as busywork, can have a negative impact on remote employee engagement. But if you have a plan to turn these somewhat boring but necessary tasks into something that increases engagement or creates some friendly competition, you’ve won.

Just like you would in a classroom setting, create a chart that shows how many of these jobs each of your employees complete. Not only will this foster some strong competition, but it will also make your team more productive. If you have room in the budget, create a small prize for the winner of the month. Even something as simple as a $10 or $20 gift card to Amazon or Starbucks can provide stellar competition, as well as show your appreciation to your employees. The good news for managers is that you won’t have to monitor this chart until the end of the month. Or, you can post weekly updates on the current scores—a task that only takes a few minutes out of your workday.

5. Provide Online Training and Coaching

If you’re burdened with hundreds of other roles and responsibilities as a manager, you may want to increase employee engagement without much effort. That’s when online training and coaching can help you. Continuous development of skills is a proven method to improve remote employee engagement while also showing your employees that you value their professional progression.

Cross-training employees in many different jobs is a surefire way to create more value from your staff while also giving them additional skills. In some companies, this may not be entirely feasible. But arming each of your employees with the tools to succeed when others are on vacation or sick can be a helpful tool.

Online coaching is another method that’s been effective for remote teams. Although this is often more work-intensive for managers, giving some advice on how your employee can improve their career path is instrumental in employee engagement. And while video-conferencing is the preferred method of manager-to-employee communication, even a Slack session discussing their potential or where your employee wants to go in their career is a sound gesture.

How Employees Can Be Responsible for Their Own Engagement

While managers must play a role in employee engagement, many of the aforementioned tasks can help them implement employee engagement programs and step away to some degree. However, employees themselves must be responsible for their own engagement. Whether you’re an employee searching for ways to improve your engagement or you’re a manager who wants to understand the process of engagement on an employee level, follow these tips to increase every aspect of employee engagement.

Define What Engagement Means to You

If you find yourself complacent at your current job or scouring the internet for other positions, chances are your engagement isn’t where it needs to be—especially if your current employer is free of any wrong-doing. Therefore, you should define what engagement means to you and what you can do to improve it. The best place to start is by measuring when you’re the most-engaged or the least-engaged of your workday. Dig deeper by figuring out the triggers behind a lack of engagement. Then, do something to change it. Consider your daily habits and if they play a role in engagement. If they do, make the appropriate modifications to right the ship.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Every employee needs to hold themselves accountable—on some level—for employee engagement. Even the best managers can’t be around to guide you through every portion of the day. By setting SMART goals, you can give yourself a start toward self-disciplined employee engagement. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

By following SMART goals, you can increase your engagement while holding yourself accountable for success. Once you achieve one goal, start a new one. This will ensure that you’re 100% in control of your career and building a more efficient workday.

Construct an Action Plan for Engagement

Visualizing your success and what you need to do to get there is a valuable aspect of employee engagement. To do this, you must construct an actionable plan. This plan can include a variety of topics, but the most important part of your engagement plan should put forth a framework that’s easy to follow. Small, bite-size actions can make a world of difference, and the more you complete, the more momentum you’ll gain. Plus, you can act as a catalyst for efficiency toward your remote co-workers.

Establish Engagement Habits

Engaged employees are crucial to the success of a company. The more engaged you are, the more you likely you are to excel as a worker, as well as boost company morale and the bottom line. So how do you establish engagement habits? By defining them and adhering to them. If you’re a marketer, find ways to improve reach or targeting your specific consumer base. Or if you’re an IT professional, think of innovative ways to improve the online customer experience. By pushing yourself to complete tasks on the fringe or outside of your immediate job description, you increase your own engagement. And your employers or managers will notice.

In addition to the business side of your engagement, creating successful habits can also improve your mental well-being, a healthier lifestyle, and a better outlook on your career. Although engagement is a two-way street between management and employees, showing initiative and tackling projects head-on with voracity can make you a more valuable employee.

While no one-size-fits-all solution can ensure remote employee engagement, some occasional prodding may help these interactions become a habit. And with the right mix of bonding and socializing, you might find that your team becomes more productive and efficient than ever before. That’s something that every team member and manager can get behind.


Do you have any ways to encourage remote employee engagement without managerial involvementConnect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you! 

iStock Image: dorian2013


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