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How To Keep Remote Employees Engaged

With the rise of organizations moving towards a hybrid or fully remote arrangement post-pandemic, it’s essential to understand the impact on employee engagement and the long-term effects it can have on a company’s culture if not managed properly.

Luxembourg-based Juliane Nitsche, Co-Founder of MLC Advisory, shares her thoughts on how to keep remote employees engaged. With consulting experience across wellbeing and performance, Juliane raises some interesting points about this trending topic in the world of HR.

A lot of tech companies are becoming ‘fully remote’. What are your thoughts on this approach from an employee experience perspective?

Any organization that is considering moving to a fully remote workforce should be confident that their company culture is strong, can adapt to the change, and has the right processes, communications and management standards in place. Otherwise, the risk of losing people along the way is simply too high.

We’ve seen companies move to a fully remote arrangement, but had to take it back because it didn’t work as well as expected. The perks for employees can be great; no commute – freedom to work from anywhere – but it might not be for everyone. In my opinion, a flexible and hybrid arrangement is a better solution.

What are the risks associated with a fully remote workforce?

There is a risk of employees feeling isolated, and therefore less engaged. It’s easy for employees to lose the “feeling” of what is going on at their company when they aren’t physically there.

No survey will tell you what you’re missing out on when you don’t “feel” your people anymore. When I walk into an office, I can immediately palpate the culture, observing how people interact with each other. The non-verbal communication, informal chats, shared laughs and overall atmosphere will tell so much. Companies often forget that engagement is emotional. If people work remotely, the line between work and private life often becomes blurry, and healthy boundaries need to be set.

“I look forward to seeing more organizations putting a focus on wellbeing as a way to create an engaged workforce.”

What are the typical mistakes employers are making when allowing a fully remote workforce?

If a company has always worked remotely, then they’ll attract people who like this style of working and will likely see positive employee engagement as talent will be expecting it.
However, changing from an established office culture to a remote workforce is really difficult. Companies often overlook the importance of remote leadership. For leaders, having a remote team to manage requires a new set of skills, so a particular focus should be on ensuring managers are capable to lead from afar.

What practical solutions would you recommend to ensure remote employees are engaged?

I have three suggestions:

1. Train your managers in remote leadership. It all starts and ends with the management.

2. Communicate openly and freely. Set up times for informal chats so that employees don’t lose touch.

3. Care about your people’s wellbeing. We’ve seen a rise of mental health issues during the pandemic, so companies need to take this into account. Provide training, such as mindfulness at work, so your employees have the tools they need to navigate these challenges successfully.

We recently helped a client with a myriad of solutions to support their employees because they realized remote work comes with additional challenges (and due to the pandemic, their business accelerated). They wanted to be proactive to avoid mental health issues and burnout, so we helped them develop a resilience skills training program that allowed employees to work through challenges in a safe space. Feedback showed that employees felt grateful to work for an employer that supported them from a wellbeing perspective – which absolutely played a part with enhancing their employee engagement.

What are your predictions and hopes for the future of remote work?

I believe most companies will offer a mix of remote and onsite work, giving employees options that best suit them. I look forward to seeing more organizations putting a focus on wellbeing as a way to create an engaged workforce.

To learn more about MLC Advisory and their wellbeing programs, visit here.