How to Engage Your Virtual Workforce in 2021

CA Short Horizontal Image (23)

Workforce engagement is always important for your business, but it has probably never been as challenging to achieve and maintain as it is right now. Many businesses worldwide are still managing a fully or partially remote workforce while also toggling coronavirus prevention measures for on-site workers, making it difficult to focus on core organizational goals like employee engagement.

It is time to hit the ground running in 2021 to focus on managing the virtual workforce and improving staff engagement.

Your Team Needs Remote Employee Engagement More Than Ever Before

Many people fantasize and even romanticize remote work for much of their lives. For many, it seems like living the dream to work in their bed and wear fuzzy slippers for trips to the kitchen. However, as people have learned in force in 2020, virtual workplace reality does not necessarily match the fantasy, especially due to health-related uncertainties associated with COVID-19

In a July 2020 article from Forbes, employee engagement was on the rise before the coronavirus struck, moving from "cause for concern" to "signs of improvement," giving everyone hope for a more engaged and satisfied workforce. COVID-19 was the plot twist no one saw coming. Most employers had no idea how to negotiate an unknown quantity like quarantine when trying to maintain all the engagement momentum they had achieved.

Not only are your employees away from the environment you created and fostered to improve engagement, but they are at home trying to manage remote work own for the first time. Here are a few issues that hinder engagement for your virtual workforce: 

  • Isolation from co-workers in real-time and space.
  • Lack of face-to-face supervision and feedback.
  • Interruptions from family members, housemates, or neighbors.
  • Taking excessive numbers of breaks, sometimes without realizing it.
  • Working at all hours since the lines between work and personal life blur sometimes.
  • Managing technology without on-site IT team members to assist.

It is challenging to make up for these issues in the virtual workplace, but it is possible with the right strategies and might offer you new opportunities to build engagement.

Engage Your Virtual Workforce in 2021 with a Few New Ideas

Many businesses are getting creative in finding new ways to nurture camaraderie in remote work environments. A few clever ideas include launching breaktime video game tournaments, photography competitions, virtual book clubs, bird watching groups, and more to form and foster common bonds.

You can do things every day to help engage your employees, whether they work at home part-time or full-time. By doing the tough work now, you are sharpening your employee engagement muscle, knowing your workforce is strong no matter where they are.

Here are some ways to help your employees feel engaged while working remotely.

Remind Your Employees That They Are Important to Your Operations

Sure, your employees might have enjoyed working without supervision for a while, but at some point, most people need healthy feedback, encouragement, and sometimes gentle reminders to stay on track. Explore a few ways you can provide this for your employees:

  • Establish daily check-ins in the form of supervisor-to-employee calls, department group video conferences, or a "good morning" text from the supervisor to the team.
  • Provide employees with several communication options, such as slack for quick messages and call capabilities. Zoom has become a mainstay for video business communications in 2020 and is likely to remain vital for virtual communications. 
  • Pull employees into the focus, recommends Ashlee Green from Verizon during C.A. Short's podcast entitled Engaging Your Virtual Workforce. Ms. Green communicates that employers need to share overarching goals with employees and celebrate their successes, especially when working independently. She reminds employers that most employees have never worked from home, so they need encouragement and pathways to success by leadership.

Establish an Onboarding Process for New Employees

New workers get hit with the dual challenge of getting to know the ropes of a new job and co-workers without being on-site to meet anyone. In many cases, the IT team delivers the necessary technology to their home, then the employee learns from there. You definitely want something more interactive, so keep in contact with new employees and make sure they have everything they need for your company's preferred communication. Provide files and links to everything they need, and let them know they should feel comfortable reaching out for questions and concerns.

Recognize Achievements and Positive Attitudes

If you have employees resistant to engagement, remote work might exacerbate that attitude. Perhaps worse, if you have highly engaged employees, they might lose some of their upbeat demeanor without coming into the office each day. The social distance can become a little too real when working virtually, so you need to find ways to elevate employees' moods by acknowledging performance, attitude, check-in attendance, and productivity. It not only shows the co-worker how much you appreciate their effort, but it also keeps everyone connected by showing positive recognition of their co-worker. You can boost the reward factor for employees who reach certain goals by giving gift cards to grocery stores and restaurants that offer delivery services. 

Make Sure Your Leaders Are on Board for Engagement Success

You can't forget how vital your managers and supervisors are to the engagement process and its success. Many times, your leaders serve as the touchstone, setting the tone for healthy employee engagement. Your managers should offer employees guidance, answer questions, serve as a sounding board, give sympathy over remote work struggles, offer reminders for deadlines, and foster a team atmosphere in a virtual environment. It might sound like a tall order, but your leaders can do it with the right approach. Set them up for success, providing them with the right tools, and make sure they know and agree with your vision for employee engagement in and out of the office.

Let C.A. Short Company Help You Successfully Foster Employee Engagement Among Your Virtual Team Members

Many employers have navigated some choppy waters over 2020 in trying to maintain positive employee engagement. Let C.A. Short Company become your partner for engagement based solutions to increase performance and productivity outcomes. You can put your trust and confidence in our 75 years of experience in employee engagement and recognition programs to keep your team motivated anytime, anywhere. Contact us today to learn more and request a complimentary consultation! 

New Call-to-action

Topics: Employee Engagement

R Scott Russell, CRP, CEP

About the Author
R Scott Russell, CRP, CEP

R Scott Russell is a video host, public speaker, and a sought-after thought leader in the world of employee engagement and recognition. At C.A. Short Company, he is responsible for producing engaging content, helping clients maximize the effectiveness of their programs, and providing ongoing training and education.

Subscribe to Email Updates