7 Unique Ways to Improve Remote Employee Engagement

According to HR experts, the Great Resignation is over. Quit rates have fallen to the lowest level in years, and many people are staying put in their current positions. This is good news for employers, considering 47.8 million people quit their jobs in 2021.

However, many businesses find themselves facing a new problem: The Great Gloom. Our research finds that eNPS scores dropped by 9% in 2023, a rate 10 times faster than the previous three years. Many employees have new jobs, but morale seems to be lower than ever across the board.

What’s even more challenging is that although remote employment is on the rise, with 35% of employees working from home, remote employee engagement is declining. Only 28% of remote workers feel connected to their organization and think that the work they do is important.

This high level of disengagement costs employers around the globe trillions of dollars in lost productivity and can often lead to high turnover. That’s why it’s so critical employers pay attention and come up with a plan to get remote employees re-engaged with the workplace.

The Unique Challenge of Remote Employee Engagement

Although employers may realize they need strategies to engage remote workers, doing so presents some unique challenges.

First, some remote workers may find it difficult to engage and build relationships when they’re not face to face with their team. They don’t always get the benefit of spontaneous conversation that erupts when people share the same space or have opportunities to go to group lunches or outings together.

Additionally, remote workers face burnout as they find it increasingly challenging to maintain work-life balance and combat feelings of social isolation. Though many remote employees feel they’re working more than ever, some corporate leaders believe remote employees are much less productive and have consequently pushed return-to-office mandates requiring employees to be back in the office as much as possible.

Still, the fact that these mandates have faced serious pushback from employees highlights the fact that people want to work from home. So employers need to find ways to keep their remote teams connected to the company’s mission and purpose—and to each other.

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7 Unique Ways to Engage Remote Employees

Finding ways to increase remote employee engagement is essential to the health and wellbeing of employees and the business. However, it isn’t always easy to come up with ideas.

Check out this list of seven fun, virtual engagement activities you can start implementing today.

1. Set Up a Remote Onboarding Program

Although this idea doesn’t seem very exciting, employee onboarding programs are necessary to ensure new remote employees get acclimated to your company and its culture. According to our research, 44% of new hires had regrets about a new job, and 23% say they’ve cried within the first week.

If you want to keep remote employees around, you need to find ways to ensure they receive training and find a clear point of contact or onboarding buddy.

In fact, our research revealed that 93% of new hires surveyed want to shadow a colleague and 86% appreciate support received from an onboarding buddy!

2. One-on-One Leadership Video Calls

Remote work situations can lead to feelings of isolation from the bustle and culture of the office, as these employees don’t get to see their leaders in person.

Meeting the CEO is important to 79% of new hires, but 20% say their companies haven’t done much to help them find support or give them a place to get questions answered and share concerns.

Consider providing remote employees with the opportunity to meet and talk with leadership through one-on-one video calls. This is a completely free way to help amplify employee voices and make them feel heard, a key component of building a positive work culture and employee experience.

3. Online Lunch and Learn Sessions

Twice as many people leave their jobs due to a lack of development opportunities than because of pay or benefits. Providing professional development opportunities for remote employees can help them feel more satisfied and optimistic at work and lead to greater productivity and better performance—a win-win for everyone.

Fortunately, you don’t have to provide day-long sessions to get this done. You can offer professional development or training opportunities while employees eat their lunch. You can do this for free with your own management team or hire an outside presenter.

If you want to encourage employees to attend a voluntary training session, offer participating employees DoorDash or UberEats gift cards they can use at local restaurants in their area.

4. Employee Awards or Recognition Ceremony

Meaningful recognition is important to building a positive work culture. It provides motivation for employees and makes them feel valued and respected—something that can be especially hard to do for remote employees who struggle with burnout and work-life balance.

52% of employees say that the most meaningful and memorable recognition comes from their manager or the CEO of the company. Have the management team or CEO host a virtual awards or recognition ceremony for employees. You can hand out awards for something fun (e.g., a “Funniest Meme” Award) or publicly recognize them for their performance or contributions to workplace culture.

5. Offer a Guided Meditation Session

If remote employees are having a hard time relaxing, guided meditation can help them regain control of their mental wellbeing. Fortunately, you can host a guided meditation session free of charge using YouTube videos and your chosen virtual meeting software.

You and your remote team can meditate together in the same virtual meeting, or you can offer breakout rooms focusing on different techniques or scripts. Your employees may appreciate the opportunity to continue investing in their mental wellbeing with access to a meditation app like Headspace, which you can purchase for your organization.

6. Play Some Fun Trivia Games

Games are a great way to bring employees together and build camaraderie through friendly competition. Hosting a trivia game can be as simple as gathering a list of fun questions online and creating a PowerPoint presentation to facilitate gameplay.

This can be done at no cost to your team, but you might increase engagement and enjoyment by providing virtual prizes like online gift cards, extra break time, or digital perks. You can purchase a subscription to Daily Burn, an online fitness app, for $13 per employee. Netflix subscriptions start at just $7.

7. Host a Virtual Happy Hour or Wine Tasting

Your employees don’t have to be in person to enjoy happy hours. With companies like Confetti, you can send your employees bottles of wine (including non-alcoholic options) so they can participate in a virtual happy hour over Zoom. For as low as $125 per person, you can host a mixology class where your employees will learn how to make their own cocktails.

If your team isn’t into wine, a coffee tasting or cooking class might be a better fit.

Build a Culture of Employee Engagement in Your Organization

As you consider these virtual engagement activities, it’s critical that you remember your efforts aren’t merely about providing employees with something to do. You’re helping them foster relationships with each other and with the company that will, in turn, help them become more engaged and productive at work.

With an increased sense of connection, purpose, and loyalty, you can overcome the challenges of remote work and build a distributed workforce that helps the company achieve its mission and goals.

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