Many organizations were forced to work remotely in 2020 and put in place stop gap measures to engage employees. This initially included everything from daily stand ups, check-ins, updates, social hour, happy hour, and meetings, meetings and more meetings– much of this through the organization’s video meeting platform. Engagement overload in the form of video and meeting fatigue began to wear on employees as time passed and physical workspaces remained closed. What we now know is that some form of remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future. This provides HR professionals a tremendous opportunity to create meaningful, intentional engagement efforts for the remote workforce, now and for the long haul.
- Have a clear objective for the engagement.
A roadmap is easier to create when you know where you’re going. Do you want to reduce turnover? Improve employee satisfaction? Decrease time to implement a new process? Improve productivity? Beginning with the end in mind, ensures HR creates engagements that achieve the objective by design.
- Match the engagement with the organization’s culture.
Knowing your organization’s culture helps guide your engagement efforts. Company culture is evident in a variety of ways, including leadership behaviors, communication styles, internally distributed messages and corporate celebrations. An organization’s culture can be described as competitive, customer-focused, innovative/creative, fun and whimsical, work-hard-play-hard, team-focused, technology-driven, process-oriented, hierarchical, family-friendly and risk-taking. As you plan the content for your scheduled engagements, think about the culture of your organization and even the sub-culture of specific teams. Happy hour with your favorite hat might be a perfect fit for an organization that is whimsical and fun. On the other hand, a highly competitive team activity might be less well received in that same organization.
- Vary the timing and type of engagement.
Types of engagement include workshops, training sessions, learning lunches, employee events, team building activities, annual meetups, to name a few. There are also micro engagements that include sharing knowledge-bites (brief learning experiences), employee polls, mini-surveys (1-3 questions). These might take up anywhere from a couple days to a few minutes. The target audience might be the entire workforce or specific employee group/team. This is where planning and organizing go a long way in achieving your objectives. Use an engagement calendar to help you organize and visualize the execution of your objectives and ensure employees don’t tune out. It’s important to note that a calendar is a living document that will need to be adjusted as changes are identified.
- Use pulse surveys to determine progress on your objectives.
Regularly scheduled pulse surveys help HR gain insights in regards to objectives and quickly identify roadblocks to progress. These surveys are typically 5-15 questions in length and are conducted on a monthly or quarterly basis. Pulse survey results allow an organization to be more agile and quickly implement changes to engagement efforts.
Let’s apply the four steps to a real work example:
- Leadership identifies increased productivity and efficiency as a strategic objective. HR is tasked with creating an engagement plan designed to achieve that objective.
- HR identifies the tools/training/processes required to meet this objective, along with various means of connecting and communicating with employees. These include training on new software, revising and communicating new performance standards, setting up focus groups/employee panels, team check-ins, knowledge bites (articles, videos, books), team competitions. These engagements have been determined to match the organization’s culture and are planned and scheduled on an engagement calendar. These efforts also include scheduling pulse surveys.
- Feedback from the pulse surveys identify what’s working and what’s not. It’s been determined that individual communication styles are causing several teams to be less productive. HR identifies an assessment tool, training and reinforcement efforts that will address this roadblock. Changes are made to the engagement calendar in order to accommodate this new information.
Where to turn to for more guidance? As HR professionals, we can build our networking competency and learn from the marketing department in regards to engagement. Their business is customer engagement– actively interacting with their customers with messaging that interests, educates, or motivates them, and encourages two-way conversations with the business based on their stage in the buying journey. HR also has customers in the form of employees that are in various stages of the employment journey with the organization. We can provide them with meaningful, intentional interactions throughout their employment journey. Let’s take advantage of our collective wisdom regarding engagement as we navigate ways to captivate the remote workforce.