Employee Engagement in the Era of Remote Work

These days, it would be an understatement to say workers have a lot on their plates. Employees are juggling the stress of a global health crisis, civil unrest, not to mention a dramatic shift in the way we work and communicate. Given all of the challenges your team is likely facing, actively promoting employee engagement couldn’t be more important.

Leaders have long known that recognizing your people boosts morale and high-quality performance. However, maintaining a team’s motivation can seem tough when you aren’t sharing an office space. And even as companies prepare to return to the workplace, we’ll all be operating in some version of the “new normal” for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, how can managers keep their teams engaged?

What Does Employee Engagement Look Like Today?

Thankfully, in its most basic forms, promoting employee engagement looks the same remotely as it does in-person. This can involve the simplest of gestures, such as saying “thank you” to a coworker when they’ve helped you out, and providing praise for a job well done. Active listening and asking questions during team discussions can also go a long way towards contributing to employee engagement.

While some aspects of engagement remain the same, managers will need to make a few adjustments in light of the way we work now. As teams continue to learn about and adjust to their new work environments, how do managers ensure that they remain committed to their tasks and goals?

Emotional Intelligence: Your Secret Weapon for Boosting Engagement

The first step in boosting engagement is to pay attention to the needs of your team. Are your direct reports balancing their emotional needs with their workloads? Are they working through the change curve when it comes to their new work realities?

Deploying emotional intelligence to understand what your team is experiencing will allow you to meet them where they are and provide relevant support and resources. Recognize and reflect on how to manage and express your emotions so that you can guide your team to do the same. Doing so will help them to remain levelheaded, focused, heard, and valued.

Communication is Key

Second, it’s up to you to ensure that your team remains committed to their goals. It’s easy to feel lost when surrounded by so much uncertainty. In such situations, communicating priorities and encouraging collaboration is key.

When working remotely, or in staggered shifts, it may be necessary to increase the frequency of communication with your team. And even though “zoom fatigue” is real, your team’s need for connection and information hasn’t gone away. Think carefully about the best medium for your message (email, video conference, or phone call), but make sure you’re keeping channels of communication open.

Employee Engagement for Today, Tomorrow, and Whatever Comes Next

Like so much else right now, the way we approach employee engagement has changed on the surface, but the core remains the same. Leaders should focus on the needs of their teams and provide relevant support and recognition. By understanding your team’s needs and responding in a personal and authentic manner, you can help your team feel connected and engaged, no matter where they’re working.

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