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EAP benefits are often under-utilized by employees

The number of remote employees in the workforce has increased dramatically in the past two decades. If your workforce includes remote team members, then you probably have experienced the challenge of keeping these members engaged. Though there are many benefits to telecommuting, it’s harder for remote employees to feel a part of the team when they are working in an isolated environment away from coworkers.

Engagement remains a vital factor in employee satisfaction and retention, so it’s important for employers to make sure all of their employees feel valued and plugged in to the organization. Here are some tips on how to increase engagement among your remote workers.

Respect Their Autonomy

If a remote workforce is new to your company, it may be tempting to micromanage off-site employees at first. But it’s important to treat them the same as your non-remote workers so that they feel a part of the team. Employers can respect the autonomy of their telecommuters by trying some of the following:

  • Focus more on what they accomplish than on when they accomplish it. It shouldn’t matter if an employee happens to work better in the evenings or late at night (with the exception of client-facing tasks and deadlines, of course).
  • Don’t schedule unnecessary meetings. Respect their time.
  • Avoid constant check-ins, provided they accomplish goals and tasks on time.

Keep Them Up-To-Date on Company Matters

Being out of the office makes it challenging for remote employees to feel part of the company culture. As an employer or manager, you can offset this by making sure your remote team is kept in the loop. There are many communication tools that can help with this, such as Slack or Skype. Being able to communicate with coworkers in real-time helps replicate an office environment.

A regularly published newsletter is another great option for keeping all employees up-to-date on company news and events, as well as coworkers’ accomplishments. Make sure you recognize remote employees as often as in-house employees for their good work. It is vital to acknowledge their contributions so they know you value them as team members.

Also, try to schedule regular, in-person meetings with remote workers (at least once or twice a year). Or plan to meet up at conferences. Face-to-face interaction can help reinforce their value to the company.

Let Them Know You Prioritize Engagement

Managers and HR personnel should communicate to employees that engagement is a priority for the organization. An important aspect of this is welcoming their feedback and suggestions. Let team members know you are open to implementing new tools and programs to maintain positive morale. When remote workers know that their needs are important to their employer, they are more engaged in the company and what they do.

Some excellent ways for organizations to show their dedication to employee engagement include:

  • Setting and tracking engagement goals.
  • Providing feedback channels and responding to messages in a timely manner.
  • Offering training and professional development programs.
  • Investing in an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and letting employees know it is there as a resource for their personal and professional growth.

While managing a team of remote employees has its challenges, the right tools and strategies can make these employees feel just as much a part of the team as their coworkers in the office. As a manager or employer, you shouldn’t focus on their status as a telecommuter. Instead, work to make sure they are recognized as a vital part of the team. Letting them know you value their contributions and providing responsive feedback channels will go a long way in increasing their engagement.

For more insights on how you can engage your remote workforce, contact Mazzitti and Sullivan EAP.