While employee engagement can be tricky to measure, you can get a feel for it if you work out of an office and can see and interact with your team every day. Unfortunately, remote teams and managers don’t have that luxury.
While employee engagement surveys can help measure employee sentiment and collect feedback on how you can improve, it’s up to you as learning and development professional, people ops manager, or team manager to follow through on those suggestions and ensure every employee feels seen, recognized, and valued on your team.
Here are a few areas of the employee experience that you can invest in to keep your team engaged and happy:
1. Employee Recognition
Saying “good job” can go a long way.
A survey by Bonusly, an employee recognition software company, revealed that 82% of employees said recognition at work makes them happy. That said, the survey also discovered that while 89% of managers think recognition is given fairly at their companies, only 62% of employees agreed.
Every employee deserves to feel valued and appreciated at work, but oftentimes, remote employees feel out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Make sure your managers regularly recognize their employees’ achievements privately and publicly. This can be in the form of a cash bonus, shout-out during a team meeting, department award, or even just a hand-written note of appreciation. Just taking the time to let employees know you see how hard they work and appreciate their efforts can go a long way with any team.
2. Company & Individual Goals
A 2018 study from global employee engagement company Reward Gateway revealed that only 25% of employees understand their employer’s corporate mission and only 32% understand their company’s values. That means 3 out of 4 employees don’t understand what their company is trying to achieve, which can have significant negative consequences on employee motivation, job satisfaction, and engagement.
One way to ensure your employees understand and feel connected to your company’s overall mission is to adopt OKRs or cascading goals. These goal-setting frameworks take a top-down approach to ensure every employee’s personal goals are tied to a larger organizational goal. For example, if a member of your engineering team’s quarterly goal was “Roll out 2 new product releases in Q2,” this goal could be tied to the company’s goal of “Increase quarterly up-sell revenue by $2M,” so the employee understands how their contribution can increase up-sell opportunities for the company and help better serve their customers.
Of course, goal-setting isn’t the only way to increase transparency around company goals. You should also discuss them during company all-hands meetings and share updates on progress from all areas of the business. This can help people understand how the organization is fairing and feel more bought-in to the company’s vision and overall success.
3. Build Trust
Whether your employees are in-office or at-home, trust is a crucial part of any manager-employee relationship. There are three qualities that make a trustworthy manager: credibility, reliability, and intimacy. The first two, credibility and reliability, focus on the words we speak and the actions we take. If you continuously give employees empty promises that you never follow through on, there’s no way they will trust you. Intimacy, on the other hand, focuses on how safe people feel sharing with you. By leading with empathy, being inclusive of other perspectives, getting to know your employees on a personal level, and talking about failures just as much as successes, your managers can create an environment in which every employee feels comfortable coming forward and asking for help.
Building trust – especially with remote employees – takes time. Consistency is key to proving to your employees that their manager cares about them and is willing to make their needs, comfort, and concerns a top priority. While trust may take a while to build with employees, it can pay off in the long run. Employees will be more forthcoming with a shared purpose to connect with others, focus on how a change will serve others, and align actions and words to build about issues, concerns, and needs, which can help your managers learn about and resolve issues more proactively.
4. Ask for Feedback
Feedback is a two-way street. Just like how your employees want to know what they’re doing well or what they could improve on, your managers should want to know the same. The best way to learn? Have them ask their team!
In 1-on-1 meetings or during performance reviews, ask your employees how you can be a better manager to them and to the greater team. If your managers are worried employees might not feel comfortable opening up in person, encourage them to share an anonymous team survey or view feedback from employee engagement surveys to look for suggestions.
Asking for feedback shows your managers are open-minded and committed to being a better manager to their employees. Just remember, in order to maintain this reputation, they need to also act on the feedback they receive to prove they’re listening and genuinely interested in improving the employee experience. Maintaining that reputation and delivering on promises consistently is the key to building trust with the team. Otherwise, employees will think your managers are “all talk” and be less forthcoming with their feedback the next time they’re asked for it.
5. Invest in Their Professional Growth
Lastly, to truly engage your remote employees, you need your managers to invest in their professional growth. When employees feel they’re learning new skills or have the opportunity to grow their careers, they can imagine a future at your organization and stay motivated to meet and exceed performance expectations. Professional growth doesn’t have to come in the form of a promotion or raise: it could be as simple as assigning them to new projects, having them work cross-collaboratively with another team, sending them to an industry conference, encouraging them to take a class to learn a new skill, or trying something new.
If your company offers an annual or quarterly professional development stipend, make this clear to your people leaders and have them encourage their teams to take and use this money. It’s a great way for employees to learn new skills or develop existing ones, at no cost to them. Plus, it can make your team feel their manager and the company are invested in their professional growth, which can inspire employee loyalty and reduce turnover.
Engaged employees often stay with your company longer and perform better than unengaged talent. That’s why investing in employee engagement can be extremely advantageous for your organization. But, with managers impacting so much of the employee experience, it really comes down to their ability to rise to the occasion and ensure every member of their team feels valued, heard, and wanted.
Need help teaching managers how crucial of a role they play in employee engagement? Sign up now for a free 30-day trial of Hone and try out our live online classes for yourself. With classes on building trust, leading through change, managing employee’s strengths, and more, you’ll be sure to find and learn the relevant skills your managers need to engage their teams.