Do you manage remote workers? Then you need to listen up to this: many of them are disengaged.
In a 2018 survey by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), at least 60% of the respondents said they weren’t engaged. About 30%, meanwhile, claimed that they didn’t get any face-time with their colleagues.
Those who work at home or anywhere else other than the office were also more likely to leave the company sooner than their workplace counterparts.
Disengaged employees can hurt the business. According to Gallup, they had:
- At least 35% higher absenteeism
- Over 15% lower productivity
They could also cost money. In the data shared by Forbes in 2019, a disengaged employee is equivalent to 34% of their annual salary or nearly $4,000 for every $10,000 they earn each year.
The good news is businesses can consider many steps to improve employee engagement among online workers. Here are some of them:
1. Increase Virtual Face-to-face Communication
Much of the disengagement among virtual workers stems from their feelings of isolation and loneliness. Many of them feel as if they don’t belong to the team.
To resolve that, you can schedule regular face-to-face communication individually or with the rest of the team. For example, you can talk to them once every quarter for feedback or performance review. Once a month is great for updates, team-building, or refresher courses.
These days, teams can already use many platforms for regular, easy, and more connected communication. A lot of these have free plans too:
- Google Meet
2. Extend Incentives
Granted, many businesses hire remote workers for cost-effectiveness. Companies don’t need to lease a bigger space or even invest in additional equipment or tech.
Many remote employees are also contract-based or freelance. Usually, firms are not obliged to provide the same benefit or even compensation their office workers receive.
However, it doesn’t mean you can exclude them from all the benefits. They might become more motivated when you extend some incentives even once in a while. Some examples include:
- Incentive-based referrals, which you can carefully track with an employee referral platform
- Productivity-based bonuses
- Attendance bonuses
3. Invest in Their Career Growth
In her article on LinkedIn, Rachel Druckenmiller, Unmuted CEO and well-being speaker, shared that employees not only want to grow in their careers but also like to feel that their employees are also heavily invested in it. In other words, you must also want them to move up the ladder in the organization.
How do you achieve this? Here are a few suggestions:
- Provide training. The program doesn’t need to be in-house. You can partner with other professionals who can set it up for you for free or a small fee.
- Review their performance regularly. It can be quarterly or semi-annually, but make sure you can take note of their progress.
- Allow them to handle other tasks once in a while. It’s a great way to assess their level of competence, trainability, and resourcefulness.
- Let them apply for higher positions. If there’s a vacancy, open it to all who are willing and able, including remote workers.
Just because they’re working remotely doesn’t mean they’re less competent than those who report to the office regularly. Many of them are gems too that you should not waste.