The pandemic didn’t just bring a healthcare crisis, it also made cultural shifts around the world.
The corporate world has changed – and it’s likely to remain this way.
Organizations are functioning on the backs of remote employees. Many big companies suspect that this remote ecosystem will continue, even post-pandemic.
Working remotely has pros and cons. Yes, it provides a flexible schedule and more time to spend with family. However, a critical challenge it poses is communication.
Team members feel distant. Information can be slow and inconsistent. Interdepartmental gaps widen. Employees are unsure about the company’s future. Upper management can often be unaware of the problems faced by their workers.
If effective communication is the cornerstone of a scalable and sustainable company, then remote working has made cracks in that cornerstone. The results include poor employee output, low motivation, poor collaborative efforts, and a weakening of company culture.
So it’s essential that heads of organizations take immediate and informed decisions to address this challenge of bad communication. Indeed, this is easier said than done. But there are definite steps you can take.
If you’re a manager, CEO, or any key decision-maker, here are 10 tips to effectively engage with your remote employees that enable higher team performance and business scalability:
Yes, if you have thousands of employees, or even hundreds, talking to them individually may not sound like a time-efficient move. However, if you have less than 100 employees, make the effort to reach out to each of them individually.
Connect with them to know how they are doing, if they’re facing any problems at work, and what you can do to help them perform better.
Ask them questions to understand their professional and personal contribution to the organization.
First, this will help you know and engage remote employees better. Such insights can be very important in optimally utilizing their skills.
Second, this will help you connect with them on a personal level. This connection can boost morale and even improve performance and boost the company's goodwill among employees.
So reach out to employees individually and communicate with them. Do this at least once every three months.
Make sure at least once a month, everyone in the team comes together to talk, discuss and engage.
Encourage everyone to take part in this.
Such communications can be to discuss business or simply to discuss basic things to know and engage remote employees better.
Have an agenda for such meetings well-defined in advance.
Talk to the employees about the company, where it’s heading, and what goals you’re looking to achieve in the next quarter. Appreciate everyone for their hard work and efforts. Ask them about their routine.
Such planned group meetings with everyone in the company, preferably every month, can be critical in nourishing that all-important social connection that we’re all missing. It will also encourage the sense that everyone is part of a team that works together.
This may sound vague. But it’s an important tip to effectively engage with remote employees.
Understand the challenges your employees are facing, the circumstances they are working in, and the problems that they are dealing with on a personal front.
Due to such things, they may not always perform optimally and may need more time off.
Deploying empathy in your communication with them is very important in building a strong team with a low attrition rate.
Your employees would be at ease at initiating conversations with you and each other because they would know their problems would be understood and empathized with. Such a mindset will always result in meaningful communication.
This is as fundamental as it is obvious. Communication must be a two-way street. You cannot simply bark orders at your team and not listen to them in return.
You must be accessible and approachable to everyone in your organization.
You need to convey consistently to your remote employees that they can reach out to you at any time with any problem. Make it clear that you’re available to hear them and help them out.
(And of course, when they do make attempts to reach out to you, be available and remember to be a good listener.)
If you aren’t accessible, there will be no meaningful and rewarding communication.
Yes, read that again! Report to your remote employees.
A lot of leaders get this wrong, but here’s a fact: Your employees don’t work for you. You work for them. They should not work as hard as you do. It’s not their business; it’s yours.
Report to them the company's progress, goals, and challenges. Make them aware of the internal functioning of the company. Bring them on the same ground as you.
Management that’s reluctant to share “more” about the company to its team always ends up with disloyal employees and a high attrition rate. Don’t make this mistake!
This is a very new solution that helps build bridges between management and remote employees. Many companies, including big brands, are leveraging animated internal communication videos to connect with their employees in this new work-from-home culture. And it’s working well for them!
Animated internal communication videos add a layer of fun to otherwise dull corporate internal communication.
They are more interesting and engaging. They hook the attention quickly with information easy to retain. They are also effective in driving the desired action from employees.
So, instead of writing long emails or corporate documents, or holding unnecessary meetings, leverage the true power of animation. Here’s a great example of this by Canity:
Whether you’re announcing something new, informing them about the company’s evolving short-term goals, introducing a new key team member-- whatever you’re trying to communicate, animated internal communications videos can work wonders for you.
Find a good video marketing agency and have them create animation videos for internal communication with remote employees-- from animated company videos that explain the organization’s values, to animated business videos that talk about newer acquisitions.
Hiring remote employees can be challenging.
But it’s not as much about getting them on-board, but ensuring that they are well accommodated in the company in the subsequent weeks.
For this, you need to have a well-defined onboarding workflow that stretches beyond the existing onboarding process. It should outline what steps your HR team, as well as other relevant teams, will take to ensure this new person comfortably connects with the company.
This workflow should include different communication touchpoints that clearly outline the forms of communication with the new employee, the key person tasked with that, and the objectives of this workflow.
This is critical for reducing employee churn rate and ensuring the new team members can be productive quickly.
“I don’t know, I’m not getting a good feeling about this project”; “Well, that didn’t go well”...
Such mundane and casual messages to employees can make a lot more difference than many people realize. They are the digital equivalent of the office’s small talk at the water cooler.
So you must occasionally reach out to your employees for small talk; talk to them about anything from a project to last night’s game; wish them a “good day” and carry on with your day.
These little moments are key in building a lasting relationship with your team.
Good and effective communication hinges on transparency… Transparency in relationship with you and your employees.
If you’re keeping things hidden, unexplained or hushed, many of your employees won’t trust you and what you’re saying.
So it’s essential that you promote maximum transparency across all verticals, from the number of people you plan to hire this year, to losses your company has sustained, to possible corporate shake-ups in the future.
Say you want to introduce a new tool so that your employees can collaborate better. Maybe there’s a new feature in your ERP that streamlines different processes, for example. It’s crucial that you invest in this training.
Don’t just send a plain mass email that “announces”. Or, don’t just send your employees a whitepaper to educate or train them about certain things.
Instead, take a proactive approach in training them, so that they learn quickly and deliver optimum output.
Live training (preferably done by a specialist) is another great option. In any case, focus on training your employees in different ways, to maximize efficiency and productivity.
These are 10 tips for the leaders in organizations to engage with their employees better and lead their team to newer heights.
Things have changed. Corporate culture has shifted. More people are working remotely, and for most of them, this change may be permanent.
It’s essential for organizations to adapt accordingly and adopt better practices to stay ahead in the game. And this all starts with them improving their communication with their employees.