Employee Engagement Ideas for Remote Workers

Did you know that companies that invest in employee engagement perform 202% better in terms of revenue generation?

Employee engagement is directly related to the bottom line of every company. That’s because by focusing on employee engagement you’re planting seeds to raise morale, boost satisfaction, and keep employee turnover rates low. 

Don’t believe me?

Let the numbers speak:

  • Disengaged employees cost US companies $450-$550 billion on an annual basis.
  • The chances of remote employees staying with an organization are 4.6X higher if they’re often acknowledged by their co-workers and managers.
  • More engaged remote teams can generate 21% higher profits than less engaged teams.
  • A 10% increase in employee engagement investments can increase revenue by $2,400 per employee.

Considering these statistics, it is safe to say that employee engagement is crucial to success in a remote environment. Acknowledging this fact is easy. The tricky part comes when you have to put in practice creative activities that make a difference in the remote culture.

Employee Engagement Ideas

To simplify the organization of your remote engagement plan, I will share a few engagement ideas to get you inspired:

Have Regular One-on-One Sessions  

One of the best ways to get connected with your remote employees on a deep level is to conduct one-on-one sessions via Zoom – either for feedback, mentoring, or both.

Having managers dedicate an hour every week to chat with employees creates an opportunity for mutually beneficial feedback. It also opens up space for managers to discuss the professional challenges that employees have been facing and offer guidance to develop them.

Focusing on the individualities of employees helps you make it clear that their voice is heard. These one-on-one sessions also create an opportunity for managers and employees to get to know each other on a personal level.

In a remote setting, if you don’t have a structured process to create this type of personal interaction, they likely won’t happen. And your business is the one that suffers.

Keep the Why Alive

According to a report, about 94% of Millennials want to use their skills to work for a meaningful cause. Therefore, you must explain how remote workers’ individual effort contributes to the whole if you want them to keep engaged.

Sometimes remote employees have no idea what is going on on the other side of their computer. You can’t let this happen.

Remote workers must have a holistic view of their responsibilities. They must understand how their inputs help the company walk towards its mission. The more transparency on the processes, the more motivation they will have — consequently, the higher the engagement level will be. 

Provide Professional Development Opportunities 

Investing in professional growth is another tried and tested way of enhancing your team’s skills and engaging them in more company activities. But how to put that in practice in a remote setting? 

Besides having one-on-one sessions where managers can support the development of employees, you can:

  • Offer high-level online courses directly related to employees’ job
  • Establish mentorship programs 
  • Take employees to annual or semiannual conferences 
  • Organize quarterly virtual workshops or webinars 

When employees see the company investing in their growth, they feel motivated to retribute this investment as soon as possible. 

Apart from engaging your remote team, an effective training program will ensure that your workforce remains prepared to face challenges related to their work responsibilities. 

Show Employees That You Trust Them 

Trust leads to empowerment. And an empowered employee can do much more, in terms of results, for your business.

These are some of the ways that you can demonstrate trust for your remote team:

  • Let them participate in big decisions
  • Give them as much autonomy on projects as you feel like it’s appropriate
  • Involve them in hiring decisions 
  • Trust them with some of your responsibilities as a manager once in a while
  • Put them in charge of projects and let them own the result

Keep in mind that the way you communicate with your team also reflects what you truly feel about their capacity. If you give employees big responsibilities but keep overseeing every action they take, you won’t be conveying trust.

There is a thin line between managing effectively and micromanaging. And the second one is an enemy of trust.

Conduct Frequent All-hands Meetings 

Especially in the remote work setting, it is key to have constant reminders about the aspects of the company’s culture.

Having the founder hold company-wide meetings to discuss challenges, highlight accomplishments, and gather fresh feedback is an excellent way to strengthen the connection between employer and employees. 

All-hands meetings allow employees to bring up concerns regarding the company’s situation and give the company’s executives the chance to address these concerns.

Creating a space for this transparency is fundamental to increase engagement levels. All-hands meetings are also an excellent opportunity to make public acknowledgments. 

I like the idea of separating a few minutes for shout-outs. Anyone who wants to show their gratitude for other employees can use this space to publicly do so.

Encourage Work-life Balance  

More than 80% of millennials significantly consider how a job would affect their work-life balance. This fact shows the importance of supporting a healthy balance between work and personal life.

By allowing employees to work remotely, you already give them some flexibility to arrange their personal life around work (and vice-versa). Also, many work-life balance aspects should be covered by your employee benefits package. 

However, some things are up to managers to perceive and act upon on a daily basis. For example, after the completion of draining projects, managers should recommend the employee to take a day or two off from work responsibilities.

This shows employees that their efforts and contributions are recognized and valued.

Also, managers should not put excessive workloads on employees’ plates. In a remote setting, it is easy to get employees overly involved with work activities and end up working long hours.

Make Semiannual Get-Togethers

Whether you have an all-remote company, or if you have just a few employees working from home, bringing everyone together at least once in a while to improve team bonding.

A University of Stanford’s study found that employees who worked well collectively were able to do so for 48% longer, and were better at creative problem-solving.

If you take your team to company retreats as part of your employee benefits package, you already have a few in-person interactions lined up.

However, if you don’t, you must find a way to gather your team at least a couple of times over the year. If your company has a physical office, you can fly all your remote employees to your headquarters to work on-site for a week, for example.

Another idea — suitable for all-remote companies — is to get some tickets for employees to attend an industry-relevant conference. This is a big investment but the benefits are not only related to engagement. There’s also a lot of professional development entailed.

Promote Employee Recognition

If you want employees to keep giving their best to achieve great results, don’t let their accomplishments go unnoticed. 

Some people are moved by acknowledgment. For these people, intrinsic rewards are far better than tangible ones. That’s not to say you shouldn’t provide gifts for office staff. It’s just that they feel their best when you publicly praise their positive results. 

Besides encouraging managers to give props to great results during company-wide meetings (or department meetings, depending on the size of the company), you can have a gratitude Slack channel. Through this channel, employees and managers can openly share the successes of their co-workers.

Encouraging a peer-to-peer recognition culture is just as important as having managers praising achievements. In addition, the company’s founder can choose one or two employees that were mentioned on the gratitude Slack channel and make a dedicated post on social media giving thanks to the high-performing employee.

Offer Financial Incentives

Just like some employees are driven by acknowledgment, some other employees are motivated by financial rewards. Without an effective set of financial incentives, you’ll have a hard time maintaining your employees engaged.

Besides offering a competitive salary, here are some suggestions for alternative financial incentives:

  • Implement a profit-sharing model within your company 
  • Offer merit-based bonuses
  • Provide a complete employee benefits package
  • Offer stock options

Make sure to work with your finance team to develop a sustainable model if you decide to go for a profit-sharing alternative. I’m a big fan of stock options and profit-sharing models because they help in creating a feeling of ownership among employees. This drives them to give their maximum contribution to the company’s growth. 

Support Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Compliance obligations should not be the primary reason you have diversity and inclusion initiatives in place. You should make it one of the pillars of your company’s culture. 

In the remote setting, you will have employees from a wide variety of backgrounds and life-stages.  You must strive to create a space where everyone feels comfortable sharing diverse perspectives without judgment.

Starting a Diversity and Inclusion committee is an excellent way to start putting this initiative into practice. For larger organizations, I like the idea of creating “employee resource groups”, such as a women’s group, and new parents group, for example. This will build a safe space for remote employees to connect with co-workers who share similarities.

Provide Workers With Best Equipment

You can use all the tactics listed to boost engagement, but if you don’t provide essential gear, all the efforts will go down the drain. 

From premium headsets to comfortable seating (and everything in between), you must make sure that your remote employee has everything needed to feel motivated to go the extra mile. 

Since remote workers can’t enjoy the perks of an office facility, you have to get creative. Your best bet is having an “office budget” as part of your remote employee benefits package. With this allowance, remote workers can purchase equipment they judge necessary to keep their performance high.

Another option is providing remote workers with gear during the onboarding process. You can let them choose from a list, and ship the chosen equipment over to them. 

Put These Engagement Ideas into Practice

Regardless of how your company’s setting is organized — remote or in a physical office — there are many approaches you can take to keep engagement levels high.

Start with a structured onboarding process, create a comprehensive employee benefits package, and use some of these employee engagement ideas as ongoing engagement support. Doing so, you will boost productivity, keep satisfaction high, and maintain turnover rates low.

Remember that there’s no getting around the fact that a company will only run successfully if the team is fully engaged.

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is a business strategy consultant and founder. He's written several world-recognized books on software configuration, speaks Spanish, ballroom dances, and owns The Product Company and Squibler.