24 March 2021

How to Foster Employee Engagement Whilst Working Remotely


Charleen Parkes

Employee engagement brings great benefits for everyone. Not only does it result in team members feeling appreciated and valued, but increases productivity and efficiency at work, contributing to something greater than them and more. In a study of professional service firms, the Hay Group found that offices with engaged employees were up to 43% more productive.

Even for the seasoned remote worker, it is normal to experience waves of isolation, so imagine the shift for the employees worldwide that catapulted into working remotely overnight. Companies had to find quick ways to transform the office environment into a virtual one whilst under pressure and during a time of uncertainty. As organizations adapt to the new working landscape, the employee experience must be optimal. Here are some tips on how to foster employee engagement in your company.

Promote Wellbeing

To be engaged, happy and excited to be at work, team members have to feel their best. One Mind at Work Global Forum is a global annual event that features influential employers and those associated with workplace mental health. The forum’s key learnings were the following:

  • Employers face a moment of reckoning for employee wellbeing
  • Diversity is key to a successful workplace mental health strategy
  • The workplace as a source of mental wellbeing, among others

The lockdown amplified the feeling of isolation. Work may have been a distraction for some; however, as home environments became work environments, a blur between personal and professional life is evident.

Introducing schemes to promote wellbeing and mindfulness is ultimately investing in the health of your employees. Happy workers are more likely to be self-motivated, productive and engaged at work. Consider starting virtual classes such as yoga or breathing, which you can schedule and screen online. In addition, clubs or groups where employees can connect with each other about running routes or their latest achievements facilitate engagement on non-work-related topics.

Further reading

Build Your Work Environment

In times of uncertainty, your company culture is everything. All that your company stands for should come to light and be at the heart of what you do and translate into a virtual working environment. If you previously had after-work activities, look at how you can do the same online. Run a pub quiz, a book or movie club that teams can sign up to, should they wish to join.

In the webinars organized by Learnlight that took place amid the pandemic, many attendees shared that they were missing the spontaneous conversations that previously took place in the kitchen or in the office corridor. If you have a tool for internal communication like Yammer, create groups such as “The Water Cooler”, where people can leave messages or set up a regular “Virtual Kitchen” meeting, optional to all employees that have time in the day to connect briefly in a fun, spontaneous and informal setting.

Communication and collaboration are critical to keep employees fully informed of activities, feel included, and proceed with tasks effectively. A great way to get employees on board with building a winning virtual company culture is to involve them as active participants in defining the solution. Run regular surveys to obtain direct feedback, identify expectations and understand how you can best support teams.

Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
The Role Global Mobility Can Play in Delivering a Diverse Workforce
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity
The Role Global Mobility Can Play in Delivering a Diverse Workforce

Review Your Hiring and Onboarding

Meeting people has a far higher value than ever before. Employees need to know the faces behind the names on the organization chart. Doing so will give them more confidence to connect with others, perhaps outside their immediate teams, and reinforce the company culture. Review your current onboarding plan and find ways to mirror this experience virtually. For example, consider video content with instructions for teams, introduce a virtual “buddy” scheme to help employees learn the ropes in their first six weeks at work whilst getting to know colleagues. Promote welcome meet and greets so that colleagues; get to know other team members, integrate, have better inter-departmental collaboration, and feel they belong.

Clearly articulate your company culture and values during the interview process. Recruit the right profile and culture fit. You want to avoid an employee falling in love with the job and not the company due to the work culture. Give insights into programs you run, schemes and systems, what ‘good’ looks like to your organization. Update your website or introduce blog content about employees so that the people that exude your values are visible and humanized. This clarity will support not only employee engagement but retention.

Encourage Learning

Ongoing learning is hugely beneficial, particularly during disruption, giving employees a sense of control, routine and motivation. It is also an opportunity for employees to upskill, making them feel more empowered, confident and positive at work. Learners can have individual or group classes, the freedom to learn anywhere, anytime, and bite-size activities make it easy for time-short employees.

Consider reviewing your existing corporate training program. Assess the current ROI. Are your employees satisfied? Are they highly engaged with their learning? If the results state otherwise, it’s an excellent time to find a flexible, personalized, and engaging solution to ensure continuous learning that impacts the learner and company goals.

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