The workplace has changed since mid-March 2020. More employees have adapted to work remotely, and this will remain the new norm for many employees and companies. But in a remote environment, where you no longer have face-to-face interactions or in-office perks, employees may seek new opportunities if they do not feel connected to their company, boss or colleagues. Therefore, employers, CEOs, human resources professionals and front-line managers need to evolve as leaders to keep both tenured and new employees engaged, motivated and productive.
Here are five tips to help ensure your employees stay engaged in 2021 and beyond:
1. Ensure all your employees are set up for success.
Ensuring they have the right environment and tech help can make a world of difference. Before your next team meeting, encourage employees to share their best practices on how they set up their home offices to minimize distractions and maximize productivity. This can be an effective and fun show-and-tell exercise that allows co-workers to collaborate and help each other.
2. Recognize milestones.
What has your company implemented to encourage engaging, fun and consistent recognition? How often do people learn the day of or the day after a colleague’s birthday? How does your company virtually recognize new initiatives, team collaborations, team wins or personal accomplishments?
For personal milestones, like birthdays and anniversaries, have a plan and budget in place to virtually recognize these things. Make sure your communications team, leaders or a gregarious employee makes this a priority and has a plan so everyone is consistently celebrated. While sending employees an Amazon gift card is always a safe choice, consider being more creative with gift baskets or company swag, or create an employee survey or “fun fact sheet” to help generate some unique gift ideas. The more personalized the gift, the more they will feel appreciated.
3. Schedule fun.
At least once a month, schedule some small team outing — it can simply be a virtual lunch or virtual happy hour where it is agreed that no one talks about work-related items. That said, with traditional virtual happy hour fatigue, you should also think about spicing it up with a virtual event like a mixology class, cooking class or trivia event. In my experience, teams that do activities together not only feel more connected, but also feel a stronger sense of community and collaboration.
4. Be human.
Take off your work hat and get to know your team. As employees work more from home, they are connecting with fewer of their colleagues. Having strong relationships with their boss is one of the most critical elements to keeping employees engaged. If you don’t ask what they are excited about and what they are frustrated with, you will not fully understand their perspectives, opportunities and challenges. Leaders today need to show more empathy.
5. Communicate the mission of the company.
People like to be part of something bigger than themselves. Often people are so focused on their specific role or department that they forget about the big picture. Leaders need to remind employees of the company vision and the impact everyone has on that vision. If employees feel their work is not making a significant impact, it is difficult for them to maintain motivation.
It is critical to prioritize mental health. Make sure your employees have the tools they need, feel valued, have time for fun, stay connected and understand how their contributions make an impact. If your employees are engaged, they will be stronger, and so will your company, as a whole.