How to motivate and engage remote employees
The world of working is changing at a lightning pace. More than ever, employees are working from home some or all of the time. There are benefits for workers and employers and challenges to be aware of along the way.
From the employer’s perspective, it can be more challenging to make sure your remote employees stay motivated and engaged. You’re not face-to-face with them, so maybe you can’t offer that typical encouragement you would be able to otherwise.
There are certain steps you can take to help with motivating your employees when they work remotely and help them stay productive and engaged.
Why is motivation important?
Employee motivation is such an important priority in 2022 that you should be focusing on. Employee motivation is what’s going to allow your organization to thrive and succeed. It helps your employees bring energy and innovation to the table.
When your employees aren’t feeling motivated, it will be mean reductions in productivity and morale. When your employees aren’t productive, your company will not be able to reach strategic goals.
Motivation requires nurturing and planning, and this is even more true when your employees are working in remote locations.
Specific benefits of a motivated workforce within your company include:
- Higher levels of productivity
- More innovation
- Lower levels of absenteeism
- Less staff turnover (this is a big one, as companies are dealing with the fall-out of the so-called “Great Resignation.”
- Better employer branding
So what can you do to improve the levels of motivation among your employees, especially when they work outside the office?
Understand intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation
Grasping the best ways to motivate your employees can rely on some psychology and good management practices.
Extrinsic motivation can be broken down into subcategories like status, access, power, and “stuff.” Intrinsic motivation includes autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
You can work to create both in your employees.
Learn the challenges
Another way that you can motivate your employees who work remotely is to come from a place of understanding why their motivation levels might dwindle sometimes. When you understand the whys, you can then develop better hows.
Communication barriers are one reason that remote employees might feel less motivated. There’s a lack of human communication in a face-to-face way. Technological errors or a lack of the right software and tools to properly do their jobs can also be a challenge.
Make them feel seen
Employees want to feel seen and appreciated. That’s going to help drive them to do their best work. It’s not always easy to facilitate that when they’re working all over the place. You have to go out of your way to make sure that your employees are being recognized for their work.
There are different ways you can achieve this.
For example, maybe you send thoughtful gifts when employees perform well, or you could recognize them in an email blast. Ensure that when you recognize employees, it’s authentic, and you’re doing it because they deserve it, not just because you want to motivate them.
That sense of authentic appreciation and visibility will be a driver for other employees to achieve as well.
A little can go a long way when it comes to recognition.
Offer opportunities for development
Whether you have a hybrid environment where some employees are in-person, and some are remote, or everyone is remote, you need to make sure that you’re offering opportunities for development and advancement to your remote employees.
The idea of development as a form of motivation is intrinsic. When your employees feel like you value their work and they have opportunities based on their performance, that’s going to motivate them to continue to do good work.
Besides offering training and opportunities to advance within the company, mentorships are also a great way to keep your remote employees feeling connected and motivated. Virtual mentorships allow them to build a deeper relationship with someone in the company, cultivating a connection and a sense of loyalty.
Make sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs
There’s nothing quite as frustrating for a remote employee as technical difficulties or having to jump between apps all day long. If you want motivated and engaged employees who are empowered in their work, make sure you’ve given them everything they need to do their jobs well.
If you aren’t sure, ask them what they need or what could be more streamlined in terms of the technology and platforms they use.
Schedule regular video calls
You want employees to feel connected to their work, and one way you can do that is by showing your face regularly. That creates a more human element in remote work that can otherwise be lost in some cases.
Try to schedule video calls at set intervals. You don’t have to focus exclusively on work when you do these calls. Ask how they’re doing overall and use them as general check-ins.
Give your employees a sense of freedom
Autonomy is part of intrinsic motivation. You want your employees to feel like they’re autonomous in how they do their jobs. This means you don’t micromanage or tell them how they get to a particular point. Instead, your focus is on making sure they get there but letting them figure out how to do it best.
Along with the idea of autonomy, you also want your employees to feel challenged. Let them be problem-solvers and step outside their comfort zone.
Finally, virtual teambuilding can help motivate your employees. When you virtually team build, you can improve collaboration among remote teams and help them get to know one another, so they aren’t just faces behind a screen.
As remote work continues to grow in popularity and prevalence, motivation and engagement will remain key challenges that you’ll need to address creatively and effectively.
When you put motivation front and center in your overall management strategy, it’ll show in other ways, including your revenue and profitability.