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As workforce leaders find their way through the COVID-19 world, defining ways to keep remote workers happy and engaged is of utmost importance. Remote working isn’t new to the world of work, but for many industries and people, it’s a brand new endeavor.
According to the New York Times, “In a May working paper, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor in management science at M.I.T., and a group of academics reported survey results indicating that half of those who were employed before the pandemic were now working remotely. That’s a significant increase — pre-Covid-19, the paper estimates, the figure was about 15 percent. (In 2018, a U.S. Census Bureau survey found that just 5.3 percent of Americans worked from home full time.).”
According to SHRM, “This working arrangement may seem exciting at first, but it can lose its appeal over time, resulting in disengaged employees. And, when employees aren’t engaged, their productivity and motivation can suffer.”
As passionate champions of happy, productive workplaces, we’ve gathered some suggestions for embracing remote workers to keep the engine running on all cylinders.
How to Keep Remote Workers Happy & Engaged
Solution #1: Allow Creativity to Infuse Decision-Making
Some workplaces are a hotbed for creative thinking (think advertising agencies), and some industries aren’t exactly wired for out-of-the-box thinking. This is an opportunity to enjoy the freedom that creativity can bring to a group of employees. Instead of “We’ve always done it this way,” NOW is the time to say, “How can we do this differently?” This relates to every organization that has shifted its daily operations.
Engage employees to weigh in on how processes and procedures can be expedited, improved or even scrapped. Look at how innovative companies tackle certain parts of business and push yourself (and your executives and teams) to look at new ways of “getting things done.” Here are some great examples from a recent CNBC piece on innovation.
Remember, this isn’t change just for change’s sake, which can be a buzzkill for employees. Instead, view this as a way to dream up new models that make everyone’s lives (and the business) better!
Solution #2: Embrace New Opportunities for Employee-Up Communication
Most of us have “chat” functions, cell phones, and other technology for basic communication. However, some organizations are taking this a step further to open up employee dialogue – maybe even between people who never had the ability to communicate before!
There are some 24/7 technology tools (such as Glint) that allow employees to share ideas, feedback and even complaints (anonymity is optional). Now is an excellent time to implement such systems. An organization that we work with has rolled out a technology platform across its national network to improve engagement, measure the success of current companywide communication, and learn from the “front lines.”
As a result, they have been able to gather excellent information that would be impossible in many other formats (typical town halls or staff meetings). It offers flexibility and a methodology where the information can be filtered to managers or departments who can respond with agility.
Solution #3: Rethink Meetings
Chances are that these technologies aren’t going anywhere – especially as remote working continues to be the norm. However, now is a great time to think about how to take the funny yet painful examples of why these can be a complete waste of time and use knowledge about your company culture to make them … dare we say it – enjoyable?
What would engage your employees? Keeping check-ins to 15 minutes? Allow for everyone to weigh in on something important? Do a swift but fun icebreaker at the beginning of the meeting to avoid the “Just hangin’ in there” and “What’s the weather like over there?” warm-up conversations?
This is another opportunity to turn the work-as-usual model and turn it on its head. Ask your people – and use some common sense, too!
Solution #4: Consistently Show Employee Appreciation
We are clearly advocates of employee appreciation. In fact, we believe that it should be touched upon every day. There are big gestures and there are also the smallest, nuanced acts that can equally improve the employee experience.
To get started, check out our 2020 Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar. There is always room for a note of gratitude or a “Thank you for all you’re doing during these shifting times” statement to express thanks. This resource offers insights into the importance of employee appreciation and also delivers excellent examples based on company culture, seasonality (did you know that National Ice Cream Day is in July?), budget and other considerations.
Solution #5: Ask the Right Questions
When looking for solutions, be sure to pinpoint the issues. What can go wrong with a remote workforce? Isolation? Overworking? Lack of trust? Shifting group and team dynamics?
Take the time to define what is most likely happening in the organization – which can vary drastically even among departments. Utilize surveys, ask questions, challenge leaders to ignore the tendency to say, “Everything is fine!” and ask, “What isn’t going right and how can we fix it?”
With the right tools and a sincere listening ear, team members will feel valued – which goes a long way. Medium.com offers employees some tips to fight isolation, which you can offer as a resource here. Forbes addresses how to avoid burnout, another great resource for the high achievers of the world.
For more timely information, check out our blog, “Supporting Remote Workers Now”.
Since 2007, gThankYou has been helping managers delight, honor and thank employees and customers. We’re all about building workplace gratitude. Check us out on LinkedIn and at www.gthankyou.com.
*Photo by Allie on UnsplashRead MoreMaybe your New Year’s resolution for the year was to get organized and plan ahead for employee engagement activities at your job. The year is winding down but that doesn’t mean you still can’t take advantage of the helpful tools and creative ideas to energize the holiday season in your workplace with gThankYou’s Day-to- Day Employee Celebration Calendar.
A lot of great things can happen in the next three months and this how-to guide will aid you in building an everyday culture of appreciation. Each month includes dates to celebrate and a mini-case study.
October’s focus is on fun, November includes tips on writing a meaningful Thanksgiving Letter for employees and December delves into what our employees really want for the holidays.
Fourth quarter is also a great time to plan for next year!
We’ll be launching our updated Employee Celebration Calendar soon – newly updated and full of fun ideas and inspiration for your planning. It’s the perfect supplement to building out your employee engagement plans for the new year.
Create Your Own Employee Engagement Calendar
Need inspiration to start on your new year planning?
Christina Thompson, writing for Quantum Workplace, has outlined some excellent strategies for creating a custom calendar. It’s a great way to start working through your plan thinking. She advises asking yourself questions about the following topics and consider the communication needs and timelines that come with each:Read More
Happy Halloween! It’s the perfect holiday for dressing up, eating candy, carving pumpkins and having some workplace fun.
But in all the fun, don’t forget a key element: recognizing and thanking employees. It really is the secret to planning effective and worthwhile fun activities in the workplace.
A report released this week shows many companies have their priorities mixed up when it comes to engaging employees with workplace fun. What employees actually want doesn’t always match what employers think they want.
The report is based on a survey by HR systems firm Sage People. It asked workers for opinions on various workplace benefits and conditions.
Quirky perks like a job-site ping pong table got a resounding “meh” from employees. Meanwhile, 72 percent of those surveyed said that feeling valued and recognized is what they value most when it comes to their day-to-day work experience.
“The research reveals that while many companies invest in quirky benefits to keep staff happy, employees aren’t impressed,” the report concluded.
Does this mean ping pong tables, games and fun activities don’t belong in the workplace? Not at all! Having fun at work builds creativity, engagement and teamwork.
But it isn’t reasonable to install a pool table in the break room and expect employee engagement to automatically go up.
Perspective, and a culture of appreciation, must come first. That means a) listening to employees, and b) incorporating appreciation into day-to-day work as well as special celebrations and activities.
Of the employees surveyed by Sage People, a whopping 42 percent said they have never been asked by their employer what they believe would improve their work experience.
“The findings show a disconnect between the benefits employers provide and what employees want. This failure to listen is costing businesses in the form of reduced productivity levels and a disengaged workforce,” the report says.
Engaging blue-collar workers may be one of the biggest engagement challenges facing HR today.
Hourly workers are unhappier than salaried workers in many job aspects, according to recently released Gallup poll data.
A Harvard Business Review analysis concluded, “People working blue-collar jobs report lower levels of overall happiness in every region around the world. This is the case across a variety of labor-intensive industries like construction, mining, manufacturing, transport, farming, fishing and forestry.”
Retention is a big problem, too. The “new blue-collar” industries, such as foodservice and hospitality, grapple with it on even bigger scales.
And there’s the skills gap.
The historical loss of manufacturing jobs has hurt communities across the U.S., yet currently “a significant number of manufacturing jobs remain open with not enough people to fill them,” according to HR Dive. “The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) predicts that U.S. companies will be facing two million job vacancies by 2025. And the American Welding Society contends that manufacturing industries will need 300,000 welders and welding instructors by 2020.”
One expert, Jobcase CEO Fred Goff, tells HR Dive he blames the skills gap on an “image problem.” Young people for decades have understood that the best way to a rewarding career is through a college degree and a job in finance, marketing, law, engineering or teaching.
“The ‘image problem’ that these blue-collar fields face has finally come home to roost — and employers are struggling to make up the difference,” according to HR Dive.
Make it a goal this summer to check out employee engagement books that will inspire and challenge you, whether you’re planning a major “think week” or just have 15 minutes a day to read over lunch.
Get a head start on engagement planning for this year by exposing yourself to fresh ideas and perspectives. Spark your creativity!
According to Kevin Kruse, consultant and NYT bestselling author of “Employee Engagement 2.0,” employee engagement is often misunderstood.
That lack of understanding is holding back American companies.
In an interview with Business Management Daily, he calls engagement “one of the secrets behind so many of my companies.”
Yet it’s surprisingly rare.
“Only about one-third of the workforce is truly engaged at work, and we’ve been stuck at this number for about two decades. This is really a shame as life is too short to be unhappy at work,” Kruse says.
In short, effective engagement leads to a workforce that cares.
“A sales person who truly cares about organizational results will sell just as hard on a Friday afternoon as she would on a Monday,” Kruse explains. “An engaged service rep will be just as patient and helpful at 4:59 p.m. as he would be at 9:00 a.m. An engaged factory worker will yank the cord to stop the line every single time a defect is noticed.”
Want to see this level of passion and caring at your company? Make it a goal to read one or more of these employee engagement books, based on decades of experience and research into building vibrant, engaged workplace culture.
Earth Day is April 22 — did it sneak up on you? No worries, we’ve got last-minute ideas for fun, easy employee activities for Earth Day!
Everyday employee engagement is built through rewarding, everyday activities. Even the simplest team-building activities can energize and bring people together.
And celebrating Earth Day in the workplace isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for people, too — and your business, according to USA Today columnist Steve Strauss, a lawyer specializing in small business and entrepreneurship.
Some benefits are obvious, as Strauss writes in a recent USA Today column.
Reusing and recycling are money-savers, there are tax benefits for going green, and green practices are good branding and popular with consumers.
But there are other benefits that are more behind-the-scenes.
“Healthier work environments work better,” Strauss writes. “According to the Green Business Bureau, there is a 20 percent decrease in number of sick days for companies that actively promote a healthier workplace.”
Last but not least, “going green will boost employee morale,” he writes. “Having a green workplace is increasingly an important consideration for employees. In-demand millennials especially will appreciate your efforts.”
Read on for employee activities for Earth Day that are fun for your staff and easy for you to coordinate. You may even be inspired to make Earth Day every day!
Here’s an employee Thank You idea that’s easy to take advantage of even last-minute: International Picnic Day and it’s always June 18! It’s the perfect opportunity to recognize your staff and celebrate the beginning of summer.
Employee disengagement is notoriously high in the summer. Distractions abound. Even if an employee isn’t about to leave on vacation (or recently returned), nice weather and summer activities can distract even the most focused of employees! Now’s the time to reinvigorate your recognition program with a team-specific or all-company bonding event like a picnic.
Keep it simple with a Friday afternoon barbecue on-site, or plan a bigger party with employee families at a nearby park pavilion where everyone can enjoy volleyball and other team games, swimming, face-painting for kids, listening to music or simply getting to know each other outside of work.
However you celebrate International Picnic Day, remember it’s important for leadership to share a heartfelt employee Thank You with everyone at the gathering. A token of appreciation, like a personalized card or small gift, is a nice touch and will make your Thank You more memorable!
Read on for tips to turn your International Picnic Day celebration into a recognition success.
It’s no secret that it’s essential to engage workers if you want optimum company performance. And who doesn’t? In the next few weeks we’ll look at ways to engage workers across a variety of businesses. Here’s a closer look at how to engage manufacturing workers.
The power of workplace engagement
First, some overall information about employee engagement. Alison M. Konrad, a professor of organizational behavior and the Corus Entertainment Chair in Women in Management at Ivey Business School addresses engaging workers in “Engaging Employees Through High-involvement Work Practices”:
“Employee engagement can be critically important to competitiveness in the contemporary business environment. The Gallup Organization, which studied employee engagement in 7,939 business units in 36 companies, found that employee engagement was positively associated with performance in a variety of areas, including increased customer satisfaction, profitability and productivity, and reduced employee turnover.”
Recent research suggests that high-involvement work practices can develop the positive beliefs and attitudes associated with employee engagement, and that these practices can generate the kinds of discretionary behaviors that lead to enhanced performance. Simply put, employees who conceive, design and implement workplace and process changes are engaged employees.”
Employee engagement has three related components, she writes:
- Cognitive—employees’ beliefs about the organization, its leaders, and working conditions
- Emotional—how employees feel about each of those three factors and whether they have positive or negative attitudes toward the organization and its leaders
- Behavioral—the discretionary effort engaged employees bring to their work in the form of extra time, brainpower and energy devoted to the task and the firm
She cites organizational effectiveness scholar Edward Lawler and his colleagues, who have identified four interlocking principles for building a high-involvement work system. Managers should provide employees with:
- Power—to make workplace decisions
- Knowledge—through training to build their skills and enable them to implement decisions effectively
- Information—about how their actions affect business unit performance
- Rewards—for their efforts to improve performance
Quantum Workplace’s Employee Engagement Trends Report defines engagement as advocacy, or the level at which employees advocate for their employers, plus the level of discretionary effort they put forth, plus their intent to stay with the organization. Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, writing for Forbes about global talent management issues, says engagement is about social connections and aligning work with cultural needs. She goes on to discuss ways the best places to work for demonstrate appreciation for contributions, including the importance of workplace celebrations.
What Employees Want
Quantum Workplace asked employees what types of recognition they like and want the most and if they thought it was given enough or not enough. Across the board, all types of employees, from engaged to contributing to disengaged to hostile, ranked a pay increase as their number one preference for recognition. No surprise, praise from a direct manager, more flexibility with work and opportunities to learn and advance rank high too. Team celebration ranked as an important form of recognition, making it a valuable tool in sustaining engagement.
The Role of Workplace Celebrations
The jaded employer with a busy workforce and ambitious business goals may think workplace celebrations are a waste of time that is better spent on work activities. But Janice Holly Booth, writing about workplace celebrations for LifeReimagined, says celebrations energize employees and get them recharged to go back to their work refreshed and ready to perform even better. Celebrations strengthen employee engagement, build team camaraderie, and reduce negative behaviors. First Book CEO Kyle Zimmer believes even celebrating mistakes strengthens teams and companies. He says it encourages calculated risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit, and fresh ideas to celebrate when workers try something new even if it fails. He adds another important caveat about workplace celebrations: “there’s no substitute for spending time with people. So don’t be that jaded employer who doesn’t believe in pizza parties or celebrating small successes.”
ROI of Workplace Celebrations
While starting his supermarket sushi business, Philip Maung was inspired by the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins and realized that not everything is about money. He found low and no-cost ways to throw employee celebrations like a game of kickball or an inexpensive birthday cake when the occasions warranted them. The best workplace celebrations allow management to spend time with employees and get to know them better. Celebrating the team, doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. It’s an opportunity to publicly show appreciation to staff and it pays off by re-energizing workers, and giving people the time to bond and become part of something bigger than themselves. It builds the fabric of your emotional culture and that’s not something that money can buy.
Learn more about the benefits of celebrating employees by downloading our FREE Guide to Workplace Gratitude. Click the image below and start sharing your gratitude today!
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