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How to Keep Employees Engaged in a Remote Workplace Employees who feel connected to their organization work harder, stay longer and motivate others to do the same.

By Chris Porteous Edited by Russell Sicklick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Remote working is now one of the more popular ways for businesses to keep their staff. The pandemic made it necessary for many companies to shift their operations into a less office-centric environment for fear of infection. Now, with vaccines available, the question has been raised as to whether businesses will continue to allow remote working for employees. Unsurprisingly, most companies have realized that remote working has made for more effective employees. Gartner mentions that 80% of firms are looking at some form of mixed working arrangement with employees still allowed to work from home for some part of the week. While this is good news for employees, it brings another concern to the table.

Employee engagement pre-pandemic

Quantum Workplace defines employee engagement as the emotional connection employees have to the work they do. Trying to raise employee engagement to a level where workers feel encouraged to do more because they love their jobs has always been a struggle for companies. Yet, with this new influx of remote workers, businesses have to rethink how they engage their employees.

Prior to the pandemic, according to Career Builder, roughly half of employees considered their job as part of a career, with the other half seeing it as merely another expendable position. Post-pandemic, there's no concrete evidence as to how employees see themselves in this new environment. However, with so many employees now operating remotely, their view of their jobs might have changed. Here, we'll examine how businesses can seek to engage their remote workers feasibly.

Highlight company values and make them a core part of communication

Company values are essential to defining a business, both inside and out. It's a relatively new consideration to see the business's image reflected both in the company's culture as well as its marketing, but in this case, it can help to engage employees. For a worker to feel as though they're part of the company and not just another cog in a corporate machine, they need to be made aware of the business's goals and needs. Ensuring that an employee knows their contribution to enhance the business and help it grow is crucial to making them feel purposeful.

But why build purpose into employees? Engagement is related to employee retention. An engaged employee is less likely to seek a new job and more likely to be loyal to the company that supports their ambitions. Engaged employees form the core of your business's productivity. These employees are the ones who set the example for their various departments, even when those departments are made up of remote workers. LinkedIn found that employees with a sense of purpose were 54% more likely to remain with the company for five or more years and 30% more likely to be high performers. An employee that sees their purpose in the grander scheme of things can't help but want to contribute more. It's a human behavioral trait that we enjoy seeing the fruits of our labor.

Related: Top 10 Employee Engagement Strategies That Matter

Leverage diversity for deeper engagement, not to make up numbers

A diverse workforce has the power to push a company's boundaries and make it explore ground it may not have breached otherwise. However, diversity is a double-edged sword, and implementing to make up quotas isn't just insulting. It could damage the company's effectiveness. Pew Research Center reports on the massive diversity that makes up Generation Z, meaning employers must consider it alongside new hires. Diversity has already shown that it can help to build social connections within society. The same may be valid for a company.

Yet, diversity alone isn't enough to make an employee loyal to a company. It must seek to include employees in what they do. Businesses need to build that inclusion into their company culture. New hires will obviously feel out-of-place at first, and that feeling tends to stick around longer with remote workers. However, by including these hires and treating them as though they're staff that has been with the company for years, the business can encourage them to think of themselves as more than just inclusion hires, but part of a team. Being genuine with an employee's assessment of skills is critical to making them feel welcomed into the company and building its diversity profile as a result. Remote working environments make it easier to incorporate diversity into the workforce because results are what matters, not how someone looks.

Look at employee well-being honestly

One of the most impressive statistics for pre-pandemic remote workers was their work-life balance compared to office workers. The Safety Mag mentions that 55% of workers working from home because of the pandemic stated they had better work-life balance because of the arrangement. It's no surprise that working from home could lead to better time management during work and relaxation in off-work hours. However, this is something that remote workers need to cultivate.

An unfortunate consequence of working remotely is losing track of time and failing to designate solid work hours. Many employees take to remote working as merely working within a familiar setting. Without proper boundaries, work time can quickly erode into non-work time. Employees, especially those familiar with compartmentalization, may find it more challenging to do so when work happens at home. The company must ensure that they take employees' well-being seriously. Define hours that the office can contact employees and stick to them. By keeping work within work hours, the company ensures better employee engagement for your agile projects and less unpredictability. There's also less chance that an employee will turn into a workaholic because they don't set boundaries correctly.

Get and use employee feedback

A glaring error that most businesses commit is trying to read their employees' minds. Human resources departments and management tend to conspire, looking at statistics and other information and then making policy changes based on data that may be unrelated to their firm. Data-based decisions can impact a company significantly, but only if the data is relevant. How does a company get relevant data about what their employees are thinking? Feedback is the core mechanism that businesses should introduce to ensure that their employees can communicate with management and its HR department.

Unfortunately, most employees are wary about giving feedback, primarily when reflecting negatively on their direct or indirect superiors. A company intending to use employee feedback as the basis for its improvement needs to ensure that the input is trustworthy. This phenomenon is known as addressing employees' "psychological safety." Employees that know their honest feedback won't get them targeted for harassment or abuse at work can speak their minds freely. Businesses need to incorporate this mindset into their company culture if they want to improve their business processes with help from those who understand them at a fundamental level.

Related: Employee Engagement: How to Get Remote Workers to Care About ...

Remote employment is here to stay

Despite some companies requiring all their employees to return to regular work in an office, most businesses aren't interested in forcing employees back to a desk. Remote working has led to higher efficiency and effectiveness from employees across the board. The employees are also happy, which means they're more likely to be engaged. It's this happiness that businesses should focus on. The measures mentioned above help increase this level of comfort and ensure employees remain content in their employment and contribution to the company's goals.

Related: 4 Essentials for Employee Engagement in a Remote World

Chris Porteous

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

High Performance Growth Marketer

Chris Porteous is CEO of SearchEye, which offers unbundled digital marketing projects for clients and agencies across the globe.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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