“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” — Simon Sinek
Employee engagement during COVID-19 had to undergo a major overhaul: the shift from working in the office to migrating online via remote work came with a lot of adjusting and a steep learning curve that required some agility and adaptability from business owners worldwide. Now that some businesses are returning to the office while others are still debating whether to remain fully remote or opt into a hybrid working system, how can we engage our remote employees in this post-pandemic shift?
We’ve gone through a lot of changes during the pandemic, and we all agree that we can’t go back to what “normal” was like before COVID hit. One of the most obvious things businesses globally have to adopt as a “new” normal is embracing flexibility.
Working from home has blurred the lines between personal and professional lives even more, and has forcefully redefined what “work-life balance” means for most people. Now, business leaders and employees alike know that “balance” is hard to achieve. We need to opt for harmony instead. And that needs some degree of autonomy and flexibility at work.
We are all responsible for creating and maintaining that harmony in our lives as individuals. But it falls on us leaders to give our remote employees some leeway for flexibility. We all want to feel in charge of our time, and we crave autonomy and flexibility to choose when and where to work. But all great power comes with equal responsibility. That includes mutual trust and respect between employers, management, and employees, as well as ownership and accountability for the work and responsibilities entrusted to us.
Promoting a culture of wellness and overall well-being is also a necessity. We’ve all undergone levels of stress similar to going to war—burnout is a real and concerning issue, and a lot of us have experienced struggles with our mental health and well-being. Some ways business owners can promote wellness in their organization are by providing benefits like mental health days and parental leave. Some companies that opted for hybrid work setups are now providing childcare facilities and pet-friendly areas in their workplaces for parents and pet owners.
When employees feel that management values their personal needs, it increases their emotional connection and loyalty to the organization.
Trust in leadership is also an important factor in employee engagement. When people work with leaders they can trust, they feel safe being emotionally invested. Promoting trust involves transparent and effective communication and accountability, as well as integrity.
Give recognition where it’s due to your remote teams, and encourage them by giving them not just praise but also regular and constructive feedback that helps them improve and grow as individuals. Invest in your team’s personal and professional development and encourage them to participate in the internal affairs of the organization.
Engagement and belonging also require shared experiences between members of the team or organization. Get creative when it comes to virtual team-building activities that you can do to improve camaraderie, promote fun, and increase employee engagement.
Lastly, focus on your team’s cultural intelligence. We all experienced the pandemic differently, and we are coming out of it on different terms. Keep that in mind when you interact with your remote teams—a little kindness, sincere curiosity, and regard for their well-being goes a long way in terms of engagement.
At the end of the day, people want to be treated like people. Always lead with kindness, whether you are engaging with your employees face-to-face, remotely, or through a hybrid setup.
Thanks for reading A Brilliant Tribe.