How to keep your virtual employees engaged during the long winter
Winter is here, and for many of us, that means shorter days, colder weather, and a lot more time spent indoors. For remote workers, these long winter months can be especially challenging. Without the regular social interactions and face-to-face interactions that come with working in an office, it can be easy for remote workers to feel disconnected and disengaged. But there are ways to keep your remote team engaged and motivated, even during the darkest days of the year.
Virtual Team Building
One of the best ways to keep remote workers engaged is to create a sense of community and connection. This can be done through regular virtual team-building activities, such as virtual happy hours, online game nights, or even virtual yoga classes. These activities not only provide an opportunity for team members to interact and bond with one another, but they also give them a chance to blow off steam and relax.
To build a cohesive culture, it is important that not all of an employee’s interaction with their co-workers is strictly about work. Research has shown that having fun at work increases productivity and retention. In particular, when the chips are down and the company is treading through a down time, a fun culture can help employees persevere. To quote employee culture author Bob Nelson, “When we make time for joy and laughter, we become resilient.”
One fun, free virtual team-building activity is to have a YouTube contest. Everyone submits a funny YouTube video. The video must be less than three minutes long and work-appropriate. Compile everyone’s submissions into an email and hold the contest on a Friday afternoon. Watch the videos together and vote on the winner. Even better if you award cash prizes for gold, silver, and bronze. Not only is this a great way to spend an hour together virtually, but it also seeds endless inside jokes for coworkers to share on the team chat next week.
No Employee Left Behind
Another effective strategy for keeping remote workers engaged is to make sure they feel valued and appreciated. This can be done through regular check-ins, where managers can provide feedback, recognition, and support. When working virtually in the cold of winter, it is critical to make sure every employee gets a little social interaction every day.
One study out of the United Kingdom found that 80% of remote workers think working virtually has negatively affected their mental health. A key reason why is the isolation of working for hours or perhaps all day without interacting with any coworkers. This can be avoided if managers make a deliberate effort to make sure every employee is not on an island. This is even more important during the winter months.
Not every check-in needs to be a scheduled meeting. Sometimes just an instant message or a quick phone call can mean the world to an employee. Also, these little catch-ups act as the hallway interactions that happen at a physical office. Those small run-ins sometimes yield amazing ideas.
Sunlight is a Powerful Tool
As the seasons change, so do sunrise and sunset. For many people, having less sun in the morning puts them in a bad mood that lasts all day. If it works in your business, try letting employees set their own schedules and let them change it to align with different seasons.
Allowing employees to come up with their own schedule, as long as they meet their deadlines and attend meetings, will help them feel more in control of their work-life balance.
Also, encourage your employees to get a daily dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the body makes it when it is exposed to sunlight. Studies have shown that people who get adequate levels of vitamin D are more productive, have better morale, and overall perform better than those with lower levels.
This is especially important for remote workers, who might not always get enough exposure to direct sunlight. Encourage employees to take a walk after the daily stand-up meeting, or take a mid-day break to step outside and get some sun
Another great way to keep remote workers engaged is to provide them with opportunities for professional development and growth. This can be done through online training courses, webinars, or even mentorship programs. When remote workers feel like they are learning new skills and growing in their careers, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged.
Provide remote workers with the tools and resources they need to grow and give them on-the-clock time to pursue new skills. Not only will this help boost employee engagement and morale, but it will also help reduce the likelihood of burnout.
If you have a group of employees all wanting to learn the same new skill, for example an Excel class, create an interest group where they can meet weekly to learn together. This can be a great resource in case someone is stuck and needs help, and it also keeps everyone accountable for staying engaged and completing the class. When that group of employees completes the class, make sure they are recognized for their effort and rewarded with cash. Afterall, that upskilling is good for your business as well as their career.
WHISTLE, THE EMPLOYEE LOYALTY APP
There are many factors that influence employee loyalty but Whistle is the first employee loyalty app specifically designed for that purpose. By leveraging Whistle and integrating with other programs, Whistle can help companies improve both their top and bottom line.
In a recent case study, Whistle helped a manufacturing company reduce turnover by 26% in just 90 days through a redesigned onboarding program. Whistle’s employee loyalty app brought the company’s on-boarding process into the digital age and put it in every employee’s pocket. Employees raved about the mobile-first experience and cash reward system.
Companies are using Whistle to help people-managers improve relationships with their direct reports, rethinking incentives and rewards, and even changing their approach to culture – building a more inclusive workplace and helping to attract quality candidates.
Contact us for a free demo and better understand how much you can improve employee loyalty when using an employee loyalty app!