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Engaging with Remote Employees
- by Mukund Jagannathan

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything. While working from home has been a blessing for many people, it has also led to mental toll on the lives of workers. Anxiety, stress and loneliness are some of the key issues for remote workers. A new 28-country survey conducted by the World Economic Forum with Ipsos has revealed that most employed adults report experiencing significant work-related disruption with a negative impact on their wellbeing. Nearly half of those who worked from home say they have felt lonely or isolated at any given time.

Another report by the University of Sydney and the World Economic Forum, has predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to leave a legacy of mental health problems, which explored how past economic crises have had a big impact on the mental health of people.

In a remote environment, there are high chances of employees having a sense of missing out as face-to-face interactions and affirmations are missing. There is hence a need for the management to introduce work policies or processes that help in building employee engagement. Engagement, in simple terms, means that the basic psychological needs of the employee must be met in order to perform his or her work well. However, this is easier said than done. In terms of engagement, connecting to team members and larger company fraternity is an issue for people who have joined remote. Communicating culture, performance goals, deciding on well-being and company vision is also an issue.

Many companies deploy a host of solutions for capturing stress levels. However, in reality, many of these solutions do not work as people are more prone to hiding issues when on email or surveys. Conversational assessment is a way for HR teams to connect with their employees and understand their issues while in different locations.

The Changing Role of the Manager

Establishing personal connections with employees is very important, as it can give managers a sense of the difficulties or problems a particular employee is dealing with. This can also be nurtured by fun group exercises that are led by heads or team leads. In this new world with distributed teams, the involvement of the manager in creating and nurturing team interactions will go a long way to ensure employees can feel connected to the organization.

Manager sensitization for performance and goals management through remote interactions is paramount. This may require change in policies and procedures. For example, managers may be empowered to directly take decisions where necessary to introduce flexible working times so that employees can adjust their schedules to look after children or day to day work. Where possible, people management coaches or sessions from motivational speakers must be scheduled to help employees cope up with stress and manage work life balance in a better way.

Keeping the employees motivated

Recognition is equally important. Having a culture of constant encouragement and positive feedback keeps employees engaged, and they feel that they belong to a place which values them. The feeling of being trusted makes people more committed and more passionate about the work they do.

Onboarding new employees

This is also true for new employees who have just joined companies virtually. Besides the onboarding sessions about company culture and the right infrastructure (laptops, phone or other Internet connectivity accessories), there is a need for a buddy. The buddy can play the role of a facilitator and can guide the employee with various tools and processes within the company, and allay any nervousness that many new hires typically have.

In conclusion, a happy and engaged employee is extremely beneficial for the organization, and can lead to several long-term benefits. This is corroborated by a Gallup study which has found that a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged, but companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

Mukund Jagannathan
Chief Revenue Officer
1to1help.net

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