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Employee engagement is hugely important for any business and is shown to have a strong bearing on everything from productivity to talent retention. Indeed, one employment study reveals that “companies with a highly engaged workforce have 21% higher profitability. They also have 17% higher productivity than companies with a disengaged workforce.”
But with the rise in remote working, how can companies ensure that their employees are fully engaged, no matter where they may be working?
The answer lies in having strong lines of communication and the right tech in place to facilitate it.
While remote and hybrid working is something many employees hugely value – with a better work-life balance and improved wellbeing cited amongst the top benefits – there can also be drawbacks, including:
In one study, two-thirds of remote workers said they didn’t feel engaged and over a third said they never got any face-time with their team. Yet more than 40% said it would help build deeper relationships.
So, it’s no surprise that companies are increasingly looking to implement tech solutions that are not only secure and scalable but designed to support teamwork and collaboration. One such example being the Microsoft suite of products, with Microsoft Teams becoming the fastest growing app in the tech giant’s history when launched!
One reason for their popularity is recognition for the many different ways a modern team might like to communicate, in particular, the use of chat and other functions that go beyond a simple email or phone call.
These types of tools support remote working by offering a way for employees to connect, no matter where they may be working, with email, chat, video calling and document collaboration being just a few of the many features.
But having the right tech in place is simply the first step. It’s how you use it that counts! Supporting employees to get the most out of their IT system and tools, and thinking about ways to encourage engagement through such solutions, is the key. Here are some ideas.
3 ways companies can use tech to drive engagement
Unlike being in the office, home working can feel incredibly isolating, leading to feelings of loneliness over prolonged periods of time. These feelings can be heightened in employees who live alone, and who may have previously got their social fix from being in the office environment.
For this reason, it’s essential that you schedule regular check-ins with your employees or your teammates to get a break from work and ensure you’re getting the social contact that forms the foundation of office culture.
If you live close-by to colleagues you could arrange to meet up for lunch in person, just as you would do in the office. If your team is spread over a broader geographic area, making it tricky to physically get together, arrange to have a coffee break or lunch over Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Zoom instead. That way, you’ll get a proper break from work (something that’s essential for employee wellbeing but which many home workers don’t observe) while also getting the opportunity to have much-needed social interaction with teammates and colleagues.
For many employees, engagement at work stems from feeling heard, valued, and rewarded by their employer. Working from home, however, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling disconnected from your organisation.
One way to ‘take the temperature’ and see how your employees are feeling, is to conduct an anonymous wellbeing or workplace survey, asking about their feelings towards remote or hybrid working, and the organisation in general.
While these types of employee check-ins were already practiced by many businesses pre-pandemic, they’ve become an even more instrumental tool for monitoring employee engagement in relation to hybrid or remote working patterns.
These types of surveys must offer an opportunity for employees to ask questions, suggest changes and raise concerns. For that reason, it’s important to use a combination of open-ended and closed questions that allows employees to give direct answers but also expand on their responses.
Websites such as Survey Monkey, Survey Planet, and Free Online Surveys (among many others) can help you to easily create and distribute a workplace survey to share with your employees.
Finally, if you’re not already doing so, you should get into the habit of holding regular stand-ups and virtual town hall meetings. This will help to foster a sense of belonging among your workforce that’s integral to employee engagement, while reminding everyone that they play an important role within your organisation – making them feel valued and connected.
Stand-ups are an excellent way to check-in informally with your team at the start of each working day and ensure that everyone knows what the day’s priorities are. They’re also a great vehicle for sharing information and updates in a way that’s more personal and less formal than email.
Town halls, on the other hand, are one of the best ways to get your entire workforce together remotely, to update them and remind everyone of the company’s business objectives and shared values. These meetings provide a great platform for employees to engage with and hear directly from senior members of an organisation, such as heads of departments, CEOs and MDs. They’re also a perfect space in which to share successes, reward high-performers, or acknowledge those who have reached significant employment milestones – all key contributors to employee engagement.
As with one-to-one check-ins or online meetings your business hosts, town halls and stand-ups can easily be conducted using applications such as Teams and Zoom. You can also increase engagement among employees even further by inviting them to ask questions prior to or during the meeting using Q&A or polling apps such as Slido, Poll Everywhere, or Vevox.
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