Are you surprised by the working world of 2023?
When COVID-19 began, employers reacted quickly to the reality of telework and virtual work environments. We learned by trial and error, eventually creating a workplace that would last the duration of the pandemic.
Now, it’s 2023, and many of us are still working virtually. In fact, up to 97% of employees in a recent survey indicated they are interested in some level of remote working, whether entirely remote or hybrid. 97%! But how can you, the employer, monitor and maintain employee engagement when your employees are spread across the province or country? Even more importantly, how can you push your team and inspire them to do their best work when they are so far away?
Transparency. Begin with the basics. For years, studies have shown that employees are more engaged when they have a sense of certainty and stability in the workplace. Though change is inevitable, employees will be more willing to adapt when provided with transparent updates and regular communication. Just as you would in an in-person workplace, keep communication clear and concise, and directly address any rumours you hear.
Tools. Ensure your employees are receiving your regular, transparent communications with effective tools and technologies. The types of tools you choose will vary by industry and culture, but there are a few best practices to be aware of. In addition to the tools you might find in an in-person office, you will need:
- A virtual messaging platform
- A videoconferencing platform (often combined with messaging, such as MS Teams)
- A reliable employee management system
Tools for collaboration and project management are typically industry-dependent. Consider collaboration tools like Miro or project tracking systems like Jira as applicable to your organization. Easy-to-use tools will make connecting and co-creating less of a hassle and more engaging and inspiring for your staff.
Take care of your people. Start with physical wellbeing by ensuring each staff member has an ergonomic workstation. Consider flexible working hours to support employees with small children or other personal responsibilities. Ensure you have a reliable EAP and that your employees know how to reach out for assistance if they need it. Most of all, be engaged! Ask how your people are doing, listen carefully to their answers, and look into possible changes to support them.
Take Time. When working remotely, one of the greatest gifts you can give your team is time to connect. In-person workplaces allow for this to happen naturally; in a virtual world, you need to create these opportunities. Use your videoconferencing tool for virtual celebrations and social activities. Consider adding online teambuilding and icebreakers to your weekly team meetings. These activities don’t need to be extensive; offering a discussion question of the week is a great way to foster connection and team motivation!
Tributes. Millennials and Generation Z are motivated differently than previous generations. They respond best to a purpose-driven workplace, regular feedback, and appreciation for their unique contributions. Take time to share appreciation, whether in team meetings or in a special “shoutout of the day” chat. Look at our previous blog post on leading through appreciation for more ideas!
Try new things. Even if your team has been working virtually for the past decade, there is always room to try something new! Show your team that you are willing to engage, to experiment, and to risk looking a little silly with a virtual new team activity. Think back to your elementary school days for some fun ideas. (Do you remember wacky hair day? Pajama day?) Inspire loyalty and camaraderie by just taking a break and having fun with your team!
Your Engaged HR Assignment: Take 15-30 minutes this week to reflect back on the changes you made during the early stages of the pandemic. What are you still using that works well? What did you try but not fully implement? What are you still using that does not work well? Make a note of 1-2 things you would consider changing.
Looking to learn more about other HR topics? Check out our Art of HR series!