Managing people near and far requires effective engagement techniques.
More employees across the country are opting to work remotely. In response, managers must adapt to, understand, and continue to engage their teleworking employees.
Engaged employees outperform less engaged employees; they’re more productive and show lower turnover rates. When managing a hybrid team, managers face the challenge of keeping both non-remote and remote employees equally engaged.
These techniques can provide all employees the same opportunities, whether in the office or teleworking.
Employees appreciate when leadership and direct supervisors regularly check-in with them to discuss projects, questions, problems, or concerns.
- Check-in with Non-Remote Employee: Meet in-person regularly and frequently.
- Check-in with Remote Employee: Leverage video technology to meet by video chat regularly and frequently.
Having a strong relationship with a supervisor can increase employee engagement. As found in literature, conducting small talk at the beginning of a meeting and communicating in-person when possible contribute to increased employee engagement.
Supervisors should also occasionally check in on employees’ engagement and satisfaction levels. As these conversations tend to be difficult, making it a relaxed and frequent conversation will eliminate the intimidation factor. If an employee feels comfortable expressing their concerns, engagement issues are likely to be identified and resolved.
For these conversations and relationships to be successful, supervisors must follow through on the outcomes of the conversations so employees see their concerns are being acknowledged and addressed.
Project manager recognition
Project managers should recognize employees on a job well done, no matter how small the win or task.
- Recognizing a Non-Remote Employee: Walk by the employee’s desk and acknowledge their hard work, or give them a kudos at the next in-person gathering.
- Recognizing a Remote Employee: Send a ‘Thank You’ card in the mail at the end of a project to acknowledge hard work.
In addition to recognizing good performance, project managers should provide feedback to individuals on the project team at the end of the project. While it’s easy to move on to the next project in the fast-paced world of consulting, it is essential to give employees feedback on what they did well and how they can improve.
Provide opportunities to find meaningful work
Employees need enjoy the work they do and see how their work contributes to the larger picture to find it important and be productive and engaged.
- Providing Opportunities for Non-Remote Employees: When you see a coworker in the hallway, kitchen, or anywhere around the office, strike up a conversation about the type of work they find interesting. Note this so you can utilize them on a future project.
- Providing Opportunities for Remote Employees: Create a SharePoint or Teams site that allows employees to list their interests, expertise, and level of availability. This information will be available for project managers to reference when staffing a project.
While it tends to be the employee’s responsibility to find project work that interests them, it can often be difficult, resulting in employees working on projects that are not meaningful to them. As the literature suggests, an essential factor in employee engagement is work that is interesting and meaningful, where the employee can recognize the value it adds.
Promote interaction and collaboration
Employees desire the opportunity to meet coworkers to create connections and relationships.
- Promote Interaction and Collaboration for Non-Remote Employees: Encourage in-person meetings, attending company- or group-wide events, or organizing lunch or happy hour.
- Promote Interaction and Collaboration for Remote Employees: Be on the lookout for opportunities for remote employees to travel to company headquarters, whether it be for a project kick-off, All-Hands Meeting, Holiday party, etc., so they can meet their colleagues in-person.
When positive relationships with coworkers are established, employees have a higher engagement level. Although difficult and not always feasible, it is beneficial to give remote employees the opportunity to meet, get to know, make connections, and build relationships with other employees in-person. Establishing these relationships helps keep a remote employee from feeling isolated, not part of the group, or like there is a lack of support from the company or other employees.