10 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement with a Remote Workforce

10 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement with a Remote Workforce

10 Ways to improve Employee Engagement with a Remote Workforce

Employee Engagement is known to be the intangible key to a successful business, however this success factor often remains very elusive for many organizations.  Some reports suggest that only 15% of employees are actively engaged and almost 65% of employers state that retention is more difficult than attraction.  According to a study by Gallup highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism.  

The war for talent continues and many employees are actively looking to change jobs, often due to their desire for more flexible or remote working.  Managers often find it a challenge to guage the levels of engagement of those who are home working as there are still many employees who put in the extra hours at their laptops, filling their commuting time with responding to the rise in emails and video calls, then possibly ending up with screen fatigue, increased stress and even burnout.  Then there are the remote workers who feel guilty about leaving their desk, so spend normal office hours sitting at their laptop but are not very productive – thus creating the new version of presenteeism.  Conversely, there are those team members working from home who may be taking advantage of the autonomy by starting work late, finishing early, taking long breaks and are likely to be using their time to do household chores or go to the gym.

The key to improving levels of engagement is to conduct regular employee engagement, Pulse, Wellbeing, and HR surveys, as well as exit interviews.  Then act swiftly to address any construtive feedback and blockers to high engagement.

Here are some practical ways line managers can identify and manage different types of workers and address the different issues when they are managing remotely:

1. With some recruitment, selection, interviews, induction, and onboarding being carried out online it is even more important for leaders, managers, and organizations as a whole to ensure that all communication is open and honest about the real responsibilities of the role and the actual culture of the organization. Then pay attention to how new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviours to become effective remote team members by ensuring that any ‘on the job training’ is conducted by fully engaged individuals, not by ‘nay-sayers’ or those suffering from presenteeism or screen fatigue. 

2. Line managers still need to hold regular weekly, bi-monthly, and/or monthly ‘face to face’ 1:1s with their direct reports, often via video calls, not just on the phone, in order to be able to ‘see the whites of their employees’ eyes’ so they can assess commitment levels, mood, and morale. A reported 85% of employees who do not have regular 'face to face' meetings with their line manager were actively disengaged.

3. In addition to more formal 1:1s to assess performance and identify any key issues, many managers are still holding regular informal catch ups via video calls so that their team members can have a non-work conversation to replicate their coffee breaks or water cooler conversations.  Some of these gatherings are compulsory, others optional, but if a team member consistently doesn’t join in with these get togethers, or any online or in-person work social events, it’s key for their line manager to have a chat with them 1:1 to find out the reason behind this. 

4. With many office workers still carrying out their daily work tasks from home, or in a hybrid model, employees need to be trusted now more than ever.  A good way of empowering team members is asking them to set their own objectives and performance goals. According to a Gallup survey pre-Covid, 69% of employees who were not held accountable for their performance were actively disengaged, with only 3% being engaged.  It was estimated that poor engagement and ‘presenteeism’ cost organizations around £370 million a year in the UK.  

5. Common complaints from remote workers are that they don’t feel part of an organization, they’ve lost their sense of belonging and teamship, that they feel they are operating in a vacuum and are lacking recognition.  Managers who create high performing teams focus on identifying and developing strengths, as well as dealing with performance issues, in order to be motivational, inspirational, and encourage higher levels of engagement. Regular, balanced feedback, recognition and praise for good work, especially from a senior manager, all contribute considerably to the employee feeling valued.  Almost 70% of workers say they would work harder if they felt valued.  Avoid being a demotivating manager, who delivers positive feedback, always followed by a ‘but’: ‘…but, this could be improved’ or ‘…but, you could do x or y better.’ 

6. In a Hybrid Working Model it is even more important to hold regular conversations regarding career progression.  Providing learning and development is also proven to improve levels of both retention and engagement.  Research has shown that companies who spend more time and money on training have lower employee turnover rates, more top-performing employees, higher rates of promotion, and overall higher levels of engagement and satisfaction. Encourage blended learning opportunities and reimburse tuition fees for relevant online external courses. 

7. Identifying and developing rising stars is increasingly important when retention is a major issue. 60% of employees are said to expect to be offered career development opportunities, with promotion from within being a great motivator. However, before the pandemic according to Hay, 43% of employees didn’t feel that good performance was rewarded and 41% didn’t consider there was a structured approach and process for Talent Management and Succession Planning

8. Employees are seventeen times more likely to be engaged if their manager is aware of the current projects they are working on, with increased engagement as a result of a line manager taking an active interest in the life of their employee, again reinforcing the need for regular communication.  

9. Having the time, equipment, and adequate resources to do the job at home can also increase levels of engagement. Ensuring that employees have the tools to manage their workload will prevent sickness absence and increase motivation.  Many firms are funding ergonomic office chairs or standing desks to avoid their employees from suffering from neck and back issues whilst working from home.

10. With so many employees working from home or in a hybrid model, some are feeling isolated, demotivated, and unaware of their real contribution to the organization.  When employees feel empowered and actively contributing to the mission and vision of the company, they are more likely to display discretionary effort.  So, frequently ask your employees what they want and what motivates them. Don’t rely on hearsay or assumption. What motivates one team member is often very different to another.  It’s also still important for managers to encourage increased collaboration with other functions in order to share ideas, processes, and procedures, as well as promoting innovation and creating an engaging remote company culture.  When strong leaders and managers hone their active listening and emotional intelligence skills and demonstrate that they value their employees’ input, performance levels increase.

'As we've been navigating our way around a new hybrid approach, your insights and support are incredibly useful thank you.  The Coaching interventions are also having a major positive inpact on the function heads with visible behaviour change and them stepping up - which is rubbing off on their teams as well!'  CEO 

About Jill Maidment

If you would like to know more about this subject or to book any of the following, please contact me:

If you would like to listen to my Expert Audio Talk on Successful Leadership in the Hybrid Workplace, please visit:

Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Career and Transition Coaching, Business Coaching, Resilience Coaching, Life Coaching Retreats

Executive Assessment, 360 Feedback, Face to Face 360 Feedback, Talent Management and Succession Planning

Leadership Training, High Performance Leadership Development, Management Training, Leadership and Management Team Development, Facilitated Team Away Days, Group Coaching