At the start of the pandemic, employers flocked to Zoom to keep up the face-to-face interaction. However, employees started getting burnt out from the constant Zoom happy hours and meetings that they began losing the desire to show up. According to Monster, 69% of employees are experiencing burnout while working from home.
The little engagement employers received has now been lost as they try to bring the office energy to the remote work space. As a result, companies are re-adjusting their Zoom strategy and using alternative methods such as Slack updates or quick video messages to relay information.
Spencer Waldron, head of remote communications at Prezi, stated “not all meetings need to be live. In fact, at least 25% of video meetings should be asynchronous.” Asynchronous meetings still create a humanized connection and allows for remote workers in different geographical areas to receive information without missing out due to scheduling conflicts. If live video meetings need to be conducted, a recent Prezi/Harris survey recommends keeping them to an average length of 18 minutes. This is because employees minds begin to wander around the 18 minute mark causing them to check out of the meeting.
Here are five creative ways companies can keep their remote workers engaged and excited.
Hosting Virtual Classes And Shows
From weekly Friday Netflix watch parties to Tik Tok challenges to scavenger hunts to trivia games to vision board workshops, there are a variety of ways for companies to engage their employees and keep them excited about showing up. The key is co-creating with them to build a virtual culture that they’re excited about. The biggest mistake employers make is trying to do what other companies are doing and expecting it to be successful with their employees. Kari DePhillips, owner and CEO at The Content Factory, said when you invite your remote team to co-create the experience they want to have, they’ll design it exactly how they want to. As a leader, you just need to help them nurture and refine what they come up with.
Emma Guo, co-founder and CEO of Offsyte has worked with companies such as Google, Apple, Tinder and Dropbox, to name a few, hosting unique and out of the box events for their remote workers. Some events they’ve done are: virtual ramen classes, cyberspace races, mixology classes, interactive magic shows and more. The key is keeping them interactive.
Yash Mehta, founder of Inbound Marketing Agency, hosts weekly Open Mic sessions where everyone is given time to speak or do mimicry. Another great idea is bringing in a virtual comedian to give team members a good laugh. Noticed, a digital commerce, optimization and marketing agency, recently brought in a comedian for their own employees which received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Some other creative examples include having employees make a terrarium together virtually, a raffle night with fun prizes or themed yoga/costume parties such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Sending Fun And Thoughtful Care Packages
Companies such as TeamBuilding have a variety of care packages employers can choose from such as a tiny campfires, storytelling workshops or simplified role playing games. Not only does this spur creativity, but it increases engagement and is a great way to bring remote workers together.
Tenin Terrell, founder of The Creative Suite, shared how care packages can boost employee happiness and engagement. Terrell explained, each month companies can choose a theme and send out a selection of related items in a care package that arrive on employees doorsteps. This is a great touchpoint that lets employees know they’re thought of wherever they are and brings some fun to their workday.
Encouraging Employee Side Projects
Giving employees the freedom to work on personal projects that align with company goals encourages more innovation in business. It’s through these side projects that 3M’s Post-It notes and Google’s Gmail were invented. In fact, 3M has more than 22,000 patents that are derived from employee side projects also known as their 15 percent program. 3M’s 15 percent program, similar to Google’s 20 percent program gives employees a percentage of their time to create new products. Companies such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Jooble and Hewlett-Packard have implemented their own version of the program.
Anif Muz, strategic programs development manager at Jooble, explained they allow each employee to devote 10% of their time working on new projects. Employees can break this 10% up into different modes: 4 hours every week, 2 working days once a month or 12 working days once a half year.
Creating A Culture Of Connectedness
Employees crave connection and want to feel included. They want to share what’s happening in their lives, funny moments, jokes and build relationships with their colleagues. Creating a culture of connectedness means recognizing that employees are more than workers, they’re people with unique backgrounds, interests and ideas.
Managers should take the lead in creating a space where employees feel safe being their authentic selves and sharing what makes them different. One way managers can do this is by taking some time at the start of the meeting to have a light-hearted conversation. Another way is asking employees about their weekend plans or what they did for a recent holiday. This is a great way to ease tension during these difficult times. It not only keeps employees in the loop of what’s going on with their team members but it allows others to celebrate milestones, offer support and to be more understanding of what’s happening in one another’s personal lives.
It goes without saying employees want to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. Working remotely isn’t something most employees signed up for but they’re doing the best they can to make it work. Now that school is back in session, working parents are struggling to keep their children engaged with their online school while managing their own professional responsibilities.
Showing appreciation with a simple thank you or a genuine compliment goes a long way. For example, “Great job on how you handled the Smith client. I really appreciated how you approached (the situation) and delivered (the solution). Your hard work has not gone unnoticed and we are lucky to have you.” These seemingly simple gestures make a massive impact on employee engagement. When employees feel cared about they’re more inclined to go above and beyond for their employer.