Employees have said loudly and clearly that they prefer to work remotely. When surveyed, 98% of workers said that they wanted to work remotely at least part-time. And 63% consider remote work the most important factor when choosing their employer — even above salary!
Going remote offers organizations multiple opportunities, especially in regard to hiring talent and reducing overhead. Still, some challenges remain, such as how to keep employees connected, engaged and loyal.
Many companies have instituted simple, low-cost employee engagement programs, which might include yearly company events or weekly video chats. But these more “unconventional” strategies for building engagement go the extra mile and really show employees that you value them as people and you know what matters most to them, from work-life balance to self-care to financial incentives.
While you don’t need to incorporate all five of these strategies, even one can clearly signal your appreciation for your employees — and you may want to start adding more since engaged employees are not only more productive, but they are also less likely to leave and drive greater organizational success rates.
Related: How to Build a Thriving Organizational Culture in a Remote Workplace
1. Take employees on a company offsite retreat
Fully remote organizations often arrange yearly onsite gatherings where employees can connect in person. Many of those gatherings, however, focus on work, with maybe an evening social gathering or event. While these are nice, what about arranging an event that’s centered on relaxation, connection and self-care?
A company offsite retreat with sessions focused on personal or team development not only offers opportunities for a deeper connection but also teaches your employees valuable soft skills, such as how to de-escalate an angry client or adapt to the stress that can come with a promotion.
Recommendation: Talk to your team about what they’d enjoy and hope to get out of this experience, and then tailor your retreat to match their needs. This will help ensure that everyone leaves feeling valued, rested and motivated.
2. Implement a four-day workweek
For many employees, every day is a maze of meetings, making it challenging to find time to complete tasks or initiate projects. This can leave employees feeling overwhelmed and stressed. With burnout affecting nearly three-quarters of all workers, it’s critical to take employee stress seriously.
By implementing a four-day workweek with the fifth day free from meetings or client interactions, employees can take the time they need to either play catch-up and complete projects without interruptions or enjoy a well-deserved break. You’ll not only boost your productivity during those four scheduled working days but also prevent burnout and show your employees that their well-being matters to you.
Recommendation: Ensure that employees feel comfortable and confident in taking days off when needed. Review levels of work to determine that productivity expectations are reasonable and that people can balance whether they work or not on that optional fifth day.
3. Offer financial wellness benefits
Mental health is crucial, but mental health care can feel like an afterthought, limited to covering psychological care on an insurance plan. Consider implementing a wellness program in which employees receive a monthly stipend for self-care, such as gym memberships, massages, spa treatments, yoga classes or even subscriptions to mental health apps.
Empowering employees and providing them with a choice as to how they spend their wellness allowance shows that you, as their employer, acknowledge their individual needs and preferences, indicating that you value and understand them.
Recommendation: Encourage employees to use their new benefits with regular messaging and reminders in your company communications.
Related: Don’t Underestimate The Importance of Employee Wellbeing. Your Business Will Suffer The Most.
4. Encourage peer-to-peer financial recognition
Kudos during a weekly all-hands meeting and other verbal acknowledgments are nice, but when it comes to the workplace, nothing says “I value you” as much as financial compensation. Platforms like Motivosity or Bonusly allow peer-to-peer financial recognition to help organizations build a culture of appreciation. Through these platforms, each team member gets a monthly budget to tip colleagues for their assistance or exceptional work. This system not only motivates employees and encourages teamwork but also ensures recognition for the extra efforts that can so easily go unnoticed.
Recommendation: Clearly define the behaviors or achievements that merit financial recognition to ensure consistency and fairness in the recognition process.
5. Provide paid downtime
The “water cooler” has always been a symbol for casual personal interactions in an office setting. When it comes to remote work, these interactions can be rare — maybe a couple of minutes of connection while chatting on a video call before another coworker logs on. Paid downtime, such as a stipend for a virtual team lunch, can help facilitate those types of social interactions so that team members can connect at a more personal level without work-related discussions getting in the way. By getting to know each other better, team members can develop a sense of camaraderie and belonging, which can be lost in remote settings.
Recommendation: Create dedicated communication channels for casual conversations so that team members can share and connect over personal interests or hobbies. These moments of connection will contribute to a positive team culture that will influence your entire organization.
Employees want to feel valued and supported. By providing them with financial rewards and new ways to connect, you can build a workforce that is tuned in, engaged, loyal to your organization — and eager to help your company succeed.
Related: Reinventing Remote Work — 10 Unconventional Strategies for Creating a Culture of Engagement and Innovation
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