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How to keep employees motivated and engaged when they’re working from home

How to keep employees motivated and engaged when they’re working from home

Many companies are finding themselves suddenly with a remote workforce. A lot of employees now find themselves working from home – many for the first time – and need support, management and guidance. At a time like this, your company’s employee engagement policy becomes a vital tool in maintaining health, welfare and productivity.

Because a change in how and where people work doesn’t have to mean a drop in productivity. Nor does it mean that engagement with your workforce should stop. In fact, quite the opposite.

Motivated people produce higher quality work, stay longer in a company and ultimately contribute hugely to its commercial success.

In fact, good employee engagement is critical to retaining top talent. Data crunchers at the networking company, Cisco, discovered that the 10% of their least engaged employees were almost three times more likely to leave than the 10% of those most engaged.

But engaging and motivating people can be a big challenge when everyone is not in the same place, particularly if it’s new to you; and feelings of disconnection left unchecked can become a major issue for the morale and productivity of remote staff. To make the weeks and months ahead the best they can be for everyone, and to make them good for business, it’s crucial that employers manage and support remote and disparate teams well.

Many organisations manage to do this successfully – and we can learn a lot from them. It’s no coincidence that Cisco is named by Glassdoor as one of the best employers with regard to working from home. Employees report feeling empowered by the ability to manage their own time and work from home and in the way that’s best for them.

Fortune 100’s ‘BestCompanies to Work For’ know that even with office-based teams, engagement doesn’t happen spontaneously: success comes from multi-faceted campaigns that are carefully crafted and expertly implemented. That’s especially pertinent when people aren’t in the same space.

Our own BetterPoints team is, and always has been, fully remote. Over the past years we’ve evolved into an engaged and motivated workforce spread across the UK. There are three areas in particular that we think play a key role.

Communication

Good communication is vital. Invaluable though it is, email isn’t the best tool for asking quick questions. Waiting for answers can be frustrating and reply-alls quickly fill up inboxes and cause distraction. Making use of a messaging system can be transformative. At BetterPoints we use Slack, but there are plenty of others available.

It’s easy to feel isolated working from home – even if everyone is doing it. Making meetings virtual with video calling platforms works well to replace in-person meetings. Encourage everyone to turn their webcam on – seeing a smiling face can make all the difference to someone’s day! It’s also much easier to take turns talking, and visual clues are important in conversation. The ability to share screens can also be incredibly helpful for problem-solving.

Don’t be afraid to allow some chatting. After all, colleagues are used to a quick chat over grabbing a coffee or filling up a water bottle. It’s natural and healthy for this to continue virtually.

Engagement

Managing a team from a distance can feel like a tricky balance between giving people autonomy and breathing down their necks. Cisco are again helpful here. Number four on the Fortune 100 list, they too attribute their success with engagement to their employee-centred ethos. 

As they explained to Forbes, Cisco introduced regular digital check-ins between staff and managers, which have now become part of the culture. This, they say, has revolutionised working relationships, giving employees the opportunity to self-reflect and to feel genuinely heard. The key element is the way that new habits have been created; these regular conversations have become part of the organisation’s fabric in the same way that checking email has. As a result, Cisco reports that most of the potential HR issues are resolved before they become problems.

Appreciation is crucial too. Even simple things like thanking team-members for work, highlighting the positives and giving the odd shout out on messaging channels becomes increasingly important in the current context. Rewards and incentives also work brilliantly to motivate people, and, as BetterPoints has discovered over the years, they don’t need to be big or even financial.

Health and wellbeing

Staying well is at the top of everyone’s priority list at present. Avoiding Covid-19 is one thing but how do employers support employees’ mental wellbeing as well as physical health? There are many things which can be done been whilst social-distancing.

Physical activity is crucial to mental as well as physical health. Although the cliched picture of a home-based worker might be someone sitting on the sofa in their pyjamas with a laptop on their knee this is rarely the case. Research from Cardiff University shows that people who work from home often overcompensate and fail to take enough breaks.

But keeping people engaged and active is not just important while they work from home for three months, it’s also crucial to them remaining engaged and active once they return to the office. In fact, many organisations have invested a lot of time, money and effort in encouraging employees to adopt healthier habits or travel more sustainably; how do they make sure those new habits are not lost while employees are confined to their homes?

Encouraging people to go for a half hour morning walk to replace the daily commute, taking a proper lunch break and perhaps a lunchtime stroll, are a good start – but there’s a lot more you can do too.

For example, a fun and engaging option may be to introduce an ‘activity half-hour’ where everyone who is able is encouraged to do half an hour or an hour of something that is good and enjoyable for them. One person might choose to jump on an exercise bike, another to follow a YouTube yoga video, a third run some races in the garden with their kids. The possibilities are endless with a little creative thinking. And sharing it through messaging channels will help encourage others. 

At BetterPoints, we all work from home and have a lot of experience to share, so keep an eye out here over the coming weeks and months or subscribe to our newsletter.

We’re also experts in engaging and motivating people, so if you’re looking for a solution that keeps people active and maintains healthy and sustainable habits while working from home, do drop us a line.

If you’d like to talk to us about how we can support your HR strategy, simply click here to arrange a call.