The past few years have been a global experiment in en-masse remote-hybrid work and the results are in:
Employee engagement is suffering.
People are working remotely or hybrid more than ever. Juggling locations, routines, and even time zones are all part of the new norm, making it difficult for team members to connect and stay engaged. And this is no trivial matter:
Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy $7.8 trillion annually.
Employees who feel engaged, supported, connected, etc., at work are more motivated/productive and easier to retain.
So, amidst the chaos of remote-hybrid operations, the question becomes: how can you keep your distributed team feeling connected, engaged, and supported?
Today we’ll dive into the science-backed solutions for stemming disengagement and burnout to keep your workforce happy and productive.
Spotting the Disengaged Employee
The first step of any systemic issue is identifying the problem.
Engagement levels are low across the globe, with the number of engaged and actively disengaged employees sitting at 21% and 19%, respectively.
But determining which particular employees are suffering from, or at risk for, low engagement is more challenging — particularly for workers who aren’t always in the office.
According to the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, there are some hallmark characteristics of disengagement and burnout in employees that management should be on the lookout for:
- Higher number of sick and mental health days
- An increase in missed deadlines and low productivity
- Withdrawal from and frustration with team members
- Lack of motivation to move up within the organization
If an employee is disengaged, don’t ignore it — these employees are suffering in silence and need your immediate attention.
Talk with them individually to tell them you’ve noticed it and ask them what may be causing it. Listen carefully, ask questions, and commit to taking action to improve engagement.
Once you’ve started implementing changes, make sure you check in with them to see how they’re feeling.
Proven Ways to Boost Remote Employee Engagement
Burnout, stress, and isolation are having a major impact on engagement levels across the globe, particularly for remote employees.
To reduce the negative impact of this hidden cost, you need to follow these proven steps from researchers!
Start the right way
Studies show that a positive onboarding experience can dramatically improve employee satisfaction, engagement, and long-term retention.
Ensure that your onboarding process gives new team members access to everything they need:
- Clear instructions on their expectations, goals, and KPIs
- Opportunities to connect with team members, peers, and leaders
- Clarity around benefits, professional development, and promotions
- Support for the technical onboarding process
Also, interactive onboarding processes are much more engaging than leaving new team members to click through slides and watch videos.
Assign an onboarding buddy or do group onboarding to help build a sense of community right off the bat.
Encourage and Uphold Wellness Practices
Wellness programs, regular breaks, and manageable workloads all contribute to employee engagement.
Make sure leaders actively encourage wellness initiatives and talk openly about them with team members. Research shows a reciprocal relationship between moderate-intensity exercise and the strength of team social bonds.
So, not only do your employees get exercise and a mental reset, but they also build up engagement through stronger peer connections.
Offer Employees Opportunities to Connect Outside of Work
One of the strongest predictors of employee engagement is the presence of team cohesion in the workplace. But this doesn’t just mean regular meetings with HR and management — social connections are key.
After-work hangouts, team breaks, and group exercises are all great ways for employees to connect on a personal level and build interpersonal bonds that contribute to engagement.
Researchers have also found that there is little difference in the benefits of virtual versus real-world social interactions, so there are plenty of opportunities for remote and hybrid teams to boost employee engagement in this way.
Tools like Bright Breaks’ easy scheduling make it easy to bring the whole team together for a few minutes of fun downtime.
Make Sure Employees Feel Heard and Valued
Remote employees can easily feel disconnected or excluded if you aren’t making an active effort to include them.
Things like scheduling team meetings when they’re available to join, asking them to share their thoughts, and reaching out to ensure they have everything they need to get the job done are simple gestures that can promote ongoing engagement.
Ask for feedback regularly and implement changes based on that feedback. And, above all else, recognize remote employee contributions whenever possible.
At the end of the day, the easiest way to know what your employees are going through is by asking them. Eliminate the guesswork by connecting with employees to find out what they need.
You can accomplish this by scheduling weekly check-ins or conducting surveys on a regular basis. This shows you care and opens the door for conversations about what might be missing.
Engagement is Easier Than You Think
Remember, working from home doesn’t have to feel like working alone.
Keeping your team members engaged is easier than you think as long as you provide them with tools and prioritize wellness. Research in the realm of organizational psychology outlines clear steps that companies should take to improve employee engagement:
- Prioritize an optimal onboarding process
- Encourage participation in wellness programs
- Create opportunities for social collaboration
- Regularly celebrate and check in on employees
- Ask what you can do to provide more support
Using a tool like Bright Breaks makes it easy to boost engagement, so you can keep tabs on remote and hybrid employees to ensure they are thriving!
Schedule a demo with one of our specialists to learn how Bright Breaks can help you improve employee engagement today!