Keeping workers engaged is a challenge for any business, and it’s especially challenging in a virtual workplace environment. Workers who only work remotely part of the time have a slightly higher engagement rate than the average worker, but workers who work remotely 100 percent of the time have the lowest engagement rates, Gallup reports. Lack of praise from their employers, lack of discussion about personal growth and career goals, and lack of opportunities to connect with coworkers ranked as the leading causes of this lack of engagement.
Taking steps to address these underlying causes of remote worker dissatisfaction can keep your workers more engaged. Here are four ways to create a robust company culture that keeps your virtual workers more engaged and more productive.
Get Your Workers Emotionally Invested
A major reason virtual workers aren’t engaged is because they lack emotional investment in their jobs due to a perception that their job doesn’t offer them career development potential. Remote workers receive fewer opportunities to discuss their career goals with managers than traditional office workers. Compared to traditional workers, fully remote workers are 30 percent less likely to feel they have discussed their goals with their managers over the last six months. Lack of career growth opportunities is the top reason workers leave their employers.
You can help virtual workers feel more invested in your company by taking steps to build promotion of their career development into your company culture. Establishing a formal or informal mentoring program to develop worker skills can increase employee retention. Managers can also get involved with coaching employees and holding periodic discussions of career goals. Periodically set work hours aside for skills training opportunities, such as seminars or webinars. Provide opportunities to learn and practice skills on the job. Companies that keep up with adopting innovative new technologies will find it easier to implement training strategies for developing worker skills.
Build Team Spirit
Building camaraderie is also important to keep virtual workers engaged. Since remote workers lack the face-to-face interaction typical of the traditional workplace, it’s necessary to take extra measures to create these opportunities. Holding weekly meetings can help your virtual team build a sense of camaraderie . To encourage meeting participation, ask each worker to discuss what they did the previous week, what they plan to do this week and what challenges they need to overcome to get their tasks done. Managers can also help build team spirit by sending out emails to everyone acknowledging team members who do exceptional jobs or make noteworthy contributions. Creating a group chat forum for non-work topics can also encourage team members to get to know each other. Collaboration tools that allow group discussions such as Slack can help facilitate this. A book club for workers is another good way to build camaraderie.
Hold Live Events to Promote Face-to-Face Interaction
Another way to offset the virtual workspace’s lack of face-to-face interaction is to hold periodic live events that bring workers together in the same physical location. This gives workers a chance to put a face on their coworkers and feel more physically connected to your company.
Live events can include functions for improving workplace skills efficiency, such as training seminars. They can also include more social events like company retreats. Tech company Parse.ly, which employs a fully-distributed workforce, holds periodic team retreats where workers cook, drink and play games together .
Use Video to Build Virtual Connections
Using video can help promote face-to-face engagement when workers aren’t in the same physical location. Incorporating video chat into your interviewing and on-boarding process can help set a more personal tone for your virtual environment. You can follow this up by integrating video into your operational activities.
For instance, using a collaboration tool that includes video chat capability such as 8×8 Virtual Office Desktop can enable you to integrate video into your communications workflow. You can also schedule periodic video meetings for occasions such as progress reports and performance reviews.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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