Amid the financial and customer retention challenges facing California businesses, keeping employees engaged is critical.
For those businesses that have been able to retain most or all of their employees by having them work from home, maintaining engagement can be difficult.
Working From Home: Good News
Not every aspect of having to keep your employees at home is negative. In fact, there are plenty of statistics to show that, in many instances, virtual employees are often more productive than those inhabiting cubicles in a workplace.
For example, an SHRM article noted that the Remote Collaborative Worker Survey was recently conducted by ConnectSolutions, a private-cloud solutions provider for Adobe Connect and Microsoft Lync. It surveyed 353 adult Internet users in the U.S. According to the study,
"Of those who work remotely at least a few times per month, 77 percent reported greater productivity while working offsite; 30 percent said they accomplished more in less time and 24 percent said they accomplished more in the same amount of time."
In addition, in a Global Workplace Analytics study it was determined that a typical business reduces personnel costs by about $11,000 per person annually with remote workers. The study projected that if employees with compatible jobs work remotely even 50 percent of the time, there would be a savings of $700 billion per year nationally.
Employees Working From Home: The Challenge
As we've shared in previous posts, the myriad of challenges for employers who must suddenly manage mostly if not completely remote workers can be overcome. This is often accomplished with innovative management practices, restructuring of schedules, and leveraging a myriad of technology solutions.
However, there is a "soft" aspect to maintaining an effective workforce that is struggling to function while working at home. Even if an employee has access to all the resources, tools, information and guidance required to do their jobs from home, the lack of face-to-face interaction and isolation can erode their sense of engagement.
Although it is a somewhat ambiguous term, employee engagement is an actual state of being for workers and the lack of engagement has tangible consequences.
Describing or defining employee engagement is not a precise exercise, as noted by an SHRM article points out,
"Definitions of employee engagement range from the brief and concise to the descriptive and detailed. Many of these definitions emphasize some aspect of an employee's commitment to the organization or the positive behaviors an engaged employee exhibits. Examples of employee engagement definitions include:
Quantum Workplace - Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.
Gallup - Engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.
Willis Towers Watson – Engagement is employees' willingness and ability to contribute to company success.
Aon Hewitt - Employee engagement is "the level of an employee's psychological investment in their organization."
Forbes offers a good working definition of employee engagement:
"Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don't work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization's goals. When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort."
Unengaged or non-engaged employees can be found in businesses and offices everywhere. However, the potential for otherwise engaged workers drifting away from that state can increase when having to work from home.
Fostering Remote Employee Engagement
There are a variety of tools, tactics and strategies that can and should be employed when managing a remote workforce. However, there are a few key actions that employers and managers can take to help keep otherwise engaged employees to stay engaged.
Maintain a Virtual Community
In an office or shop setting, employees can see and interact with their coworkers and managers. They can engage in casual conversations and have face-to-face meetings with managers.
While this can never be fully replicated remotely, there are plenty of tools that will allow your team to interact both casually - which is critical to allow and encourage - and to have more formal, work-related meetings and discussions.
Some of the top tools being used for fostering and maintaining a workforce community include Slack, Trello and Asana.
Acknowledge Employee Effort and Show Appreciation
Acknowledging the efforts of your employees is one of the most effective practices that can serve as a catalyst for employee engagement. Combining recognition with actual rewards of appreciation can double the impact for employees.
Again, the plethora of technology solutions and tools allows for a variety of ways to reward employees, even when they are working from home. You can show your appreciation with a surprise delivery of items such as cookies or gift cards, for example. Online shopping and ordering makes it a quick and easy effort but one that makes a big difference.
Maintain Continuous Communication With Remote Teams
Establishing and maintaining essential and ongoing communication with your employees is the most important function for employee engagement. As an employer or a manager, communication is absolutely essential for addressing employee concerns and priorities, as well as helping workers with time management and keeping them updated.
Constant communication will also help maintain their motivation and focus on their work. For example, starting each day with a quick meeting with employees will help them stay on track for consistent results.
Your Remote Workforce Management Partner
HR staff have a growing and demanding role in recruiting, hiring, and continually training employees. In addition, they are responsible for other functions such as employee development, payroll management, employee records compliance, and managing employee benefits.
Outsourcing is increasingly becoming a cost-effective and strategic option. Accuchex can help you in managing your HR needs, payroll processes, and staying on top of compliance demands.
Get your Free Download: Payroll Outsourcing Guide to help you make an informed decision or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.