Engaging employees is already hard as it is. But doing so in a remote, pandemic-ridden, anxiety-filled world is even harder. But is it really as difficult to connect with our people in the new normal? Not really. We'd be exploring some easy, fun, and effective ways to make your remote workforces happy through the aid of some incredible virtual employee engagement ideas.
First of all, what exactly is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is nothing more but the process of making employees feel happy, satisfied, and loyal towards their place of work. Its signficance increases especially looking at the dynamic trends at work.
Today’s workers want more than just their salary. They want to feel appreciated, valued, and develop- all the while pursuing their careers. If you fail to make them feel like your company is helping them be better, live better, and work better, they are most probably going to quit.
But that's not all! Greater levels of engagement have been linked to greater productivity, performance, and satisfaction among workers.
Simply put, happier employees really do tend to drive profits and business results.
That makes virtual employee engagement ideas a critical business practice to focus on.
Why Do We Need Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas?
Virtual employee engagement ideas enable companies to engage their work-from-home or remote employees without the need for any in-person interactions.
Pre-2020, the world was unclear about the effectiveness of remote work. Post-2020, remote work has established itself as the norm.
Unfortunately, we have never faced such a mass change to remote work in so little time. With the majority of people working from their homes, employees feel:
- Disconnected from their peers
- Lonely and anxious
- Concerned about layoffs
- Concerned about their physical and mental health
All of the above issues make engaging remote workers a trickly challenge. Usual employee engagement measures focus on face-on-face communication to be successful. But now, it’s not feasible or safe for companies to lead any such actions as before. Hence the need for virtual employee engagement ideas was borne.
But here’s the positive part. Even without the pandemic, the world was headed towards an eventual remote company culture.
- The number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005. (Source: Global Workplace Analytics)
- By 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers. (Source: Upwork)
- 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours. (Source: FlexJobs)
- Companies that allow remote work have 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t. (Source: Owl Labs)
Thus, all employers must get comfortable with the idea of engaging remote teams virtually.
Now that we have established that remote employees' will constitute a large part of the future workforce let's look at some amazing virtual employee engagement ideas to engage these workers.
14 Unique Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas
Remote employee engagement doesn’t have to be hard. It is a matter of understanding what your people want and finding the right virtual alternatives for delivering a near-perfect employee experience.
Thankfully, technology has advanced to the point where companies can support employees remotely through the aid of virtual employee engagement ideas.
1. Virtual Murder Mystery
Connecting remote teams is a really tough job to undertake. Especially when you consider mandatory social distancing in many countries, your people are probably bored out of their minds while being stuck at homes.
Virtual murder mystery days are the perfect solution to raise remote workers out of their usual stupor and enable them to participate in something that needs their wit, decision-making skills, and social skills.
We really love the virtual murder mystery challenges that SnackNation has put out. We recommend that you take inspiration from there and host your own virtual murder mystery night.
2. Solve Puzzles With Remote Teams
Solving puzzles is an excellent way for remote teams to connect and “synchronize” their skills. Solving puzzles together can be monumental in promoting communication, better bonding, and developing the ability to think of the bigger picture.
Leaders looking to boost collaboration among remote workers conduct virtual puzzle events where different teams can “battle” each other to complete the puzzle in record time.
Attach incentives to do so, which will inspire teams to enhance their competitiveness.
3. Virtual Rewards And Recognition
This particular virtual employee engagement idea will make a lot of difference to the satisfaction levels among remote workers.
Even while working remotely, people need to know that they (and their contributions) matter to the organization. Without getting recognized for the extra efforts they're putting in, your remote workforce is more likely to get detached and disengaged.
Thus, ensure that your rewards and recognition initiatives don’t stop. Virtually recognizing your people can be as simple as a “thank you” on video calls. Or ask the whole team to clap during virtual meetings when someone reaches an amazing milestone. For rewards, you can opt for remote-friendly options such as electronic gift cards, reward points, etc.
4. Virtual Water Cooler Activities
A big part of the "normal" 9-5 works schedule is the water cooler conversations we have with our peers.
Water cooler conversations are the casual talk and bonding that enables us to connect and empathize with one another. It forms a big part of any company's culture.
Unfortunately, remote work has dramatically impacted such traditional workplace rituals.
To ensure that the disconnectedness between remote team members doesn't increase further, seek ways for employees to have "virtual water cooler conversations." It is a great virtual employee engagement idea to boost team bonding and drive engagement.
Ask the HR teams to implement some virtual clubs. Ensure that people get the chance to take the time to chat with their team members about their day-to-day activities.
Invest in a good team communication app, like Slack, for people to talk about random things. Start new rituals like asking people to share their own version of the "photo of the day" and have conversations around it.
5. Themed Days
For remote workers, days can be mundane, with one day blending into the other. Thus, themed days are always a great form of distraction.
It allows people to still have a "fun aspect" to the otherwise mundane days.
Themed days also allow you to be as creative as possible. "Dress Like Your Favorite Character" Day, "Show Your Pets At Zoom Calls" Day, "Yes Day"- the possibilities are endless.
6. Remove Unnecessary Team Meetings
As the world transitions towards a remote work culture, the number of meetings being conducted has risen dramatically.
This is mostly due to companies trying to compensate for the lack of face-face conversations that used to be a part of the regular work-life.
However, virtual meetings can prove harmful to the already overworked and anxious employees’ morale. Such discussions also have a terrible track record of negatively affecting engagement.
Most virtual meetings can instead be replaced with a team-wide email. For important virtual conferences, remember to keep a set time. Also, ensure that only the vital people there in the discussion.
7. Allow Frequent Breaks
The work pressure of the new remote employees is higher than ever. The concept of work timings has changed to mean that a person should be available 24/7.
Such practices will eventually lead to burnout and make your employees feel disgruntled, stressed, and anxious.
It is crucial to provide regular breaks to promote mental health and well-being among remote employees.
Remote workers should be able to take a step back and connect with their families and peers.
Frequent breaks are vital to rejuvenate and boost one's self. That, in itself, is perhaps one of the best virtual employee engagement ideas to engage the people working from home.
8. Give Time Off
Thinking of how to make your remote worker's birthdays/anniversaries memorable? Or to congratulate them on a job well done? Give them the day off.
Remote employees want to have a day off with no responsibilities, meetings, or conference calls to worry about. It can be the day to get a full day's sleep. Catch up on their favorite movies. Or to simply bond with their kids.
Trust me. Every employee will thank you for it.
9. Virtual Events
Virtual employee engagement activities are a must for companies looking to boost their remote employees’ productivity and satisfaction.
It might be a virtual concert, virtual stand-up show, or even an insightful seminar. These WFH engagement activities can be vital in allowing remote employees to rewind and relax during a tough week.
10. Stop Micromanaging
A lot of managers or leaders feel the need to micromanage their remote workers. It is because they perceive that without micromanaging, nothing will ever get done.
However, these misconceptions might quickly turn your remote workers into disengaged ones.
Like regular workers, people should have the option of working with autonomy and feel trusted. Micromanaging remote workers will only make them feel alienated and result in morale and productivity loss.
Combating this practice should be a vital virtual employee engagement idea to focus on.
Instead, leaders should seek to set performance expectations through the aid of OKR and KPI strategy. Setting specific and measurable goals for every remote worker will promote transparency and eliminate the need to micromanage everything.
11. Take Urgent Mental Health Initiatives
While physical health was the greatest worry of 2020, mental health also took a downhill turn.
Working remotely can be challenging for any person. Anxiety and stress about the world's happenings can impact a person and their ability to perform well.
Unless a remote employee is mentally well, any form of WFH employee engagement activities will not work effectively.
Simply put, ensuring that your workers are in a healthy frame of mind is a critical virtual employee engagement idea that you can't overlook.
Therefore, ensure that the remote employees are in a space where they are in a mental state to do their job without any issues.
To promote mental health and its importance, take some necessary steps such as calling a mental health advocate to do a company-wide seminar.
Similarly, allow mental health day-offs and consider hiring an office counselor. You can also give the work from home employees free subscriptions to meditation apps such as Headspace.
12. Take Timely Feedbacks
Make your remote employees feel valued by taking their feedback about the current situations. It helps in measuring the engagement levels of remote workers.
It also helps cement the fact that you still care about what your employees' opinions are. Doing so will increase their job satisfaction levels and help you avoid some crucial mistakes.
To ensure that the feedback is accurate, take the help of pulse survey tools such as Vantage Pulse.
Vantage Pulse allows your employees to give their opinions through a concise and easy survey questionnaire format. It is also accessible on multiple devices and platforms, which will make it easier for your employees to participate.
13. Quality Communication Tools
All remote team builds great products and provide exceptional services with some necessary help from the technical side. Remote workers need to have access to quality communication tools to create a transparent communication strategy with their peers and the customer base.
A lack of good communication can impede remote teams’ growth, resulting in loss of morale, compromising the team bond, and eventually reducing productivity. In such cases, employee engagement can take a turn for the worse.
Many remote collaboration tools have surfaced to solve any potential communication gap that your team might have. The communication features can range from live chat apps, video conferencing apps, file sharing apps, to many more. It’s a matter of choosing the right engagement tool based on your remote team’s functionalities and needs.
14. Celebrate Virtual Employee Appreciation Day
Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated on the first Friday of March, where companies acknowledge the efforts put forward by employees day in and day out.
Just because your workers are now working from home is no reason you disregard celebrating this special and essential day.
Instead, it provides you the perfect opportunity to show your people that they are a valuable part of the organization, especially during tough times.
Here are some great ways to celebrate virtual employee appreciation day:
- Send a care package to every employee consisting of amazing company swag or self-care items.
- Reward and recognize your employees through the aid of gift cards, reward points, donating to their preferred charity, etc.
- Publicly recognize people on your social media channels by giving them a "shout out."
- Send electronic items such as fitness bands as appreciation gifts.
Virtual employee engagement ideas are crucial to engage your remote workers and enhance their levels of satisfaction, productivity, and happiness. It is merely about understanding the factors that influence an employee’s sense of worth.
Do you have any additional virtual employee engagement ideas or virtual employee engagement activities that you love? Let us know in the comments below.