By Kevin Eikenberry, co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute.
Engagement is a very trendy word these days. No doubt, it is a critical component of every workplace. However, many experts, including writers, speakers and consultants have made the idea of engagement far too complex.
So let’s get past all of that right now. Let’s get to the heart of the matter. Let’s talk about what your employees—whether they work from the office or home—really want when it comes to work. It’s a lot simpler than you might think. For starters, check out this post “How Do You Know if Employees Have Disengaged?” to see gauge the extent of your disengagement problem. Then to engage or re-engage employees, make sure you are offering them:
People want to be a part of something useful, valuable, and bigger than themselves, but when employees work from a remote location, seeing how they fit into the big picture can be difficult. Tell all your employees regularly how what they do makes a difference to the team, organization, customers and so on. Make sure they understand the mission of the organization, why that mission is important and how they support it.
Employees need to know what is expected of them and what behaviors you value. When employees know what is really expected of them, they can work with less stress and higher confidence and productivity. Do your team members know what you expect of them? Have you taken time (lately) to discuss and clarify your expectations and the requirements of the job?
People are naturally competitive (if only with themselves), so help them compete by working with them to establish clear, specific goals to keep them motivated. Schedule meetings with each of your staff to review progress on current goals and set new ones.
Human beings want to feel connected to other people, and work is a logical place to have that need met because we spend more waking hours at work than in any other activity. When your employees work in far-flung locations, employees can feel disconnected from the group. Create opportunities for everyone to collaborate as a team and connect. Ensure that you are taking the steps to connect with each one of your direct reports on a regular basis.
The people who do the work have a valuable perspective. They have ideas, and they’d like to share them. You don’t need to implement every idea or accept every solution suggested. However, if you ask for feedback, and implement it when you can, you show employees that their voices matter. Are you making it easy for all your employees to share their ideas?
People want to work with others who believe in them. We tend to do our best work when we know that those around us want the best for us and believe we can achieve the best. Do you believe in the capacity and potential of your people? If so, do they know? If not, why not?
Even in the most regulated and procedure-driven jobs, there is room for freedom and personal choices. Besides when employees work remotely, you can’t oversee their every move, so you need to be willing to grant employees autonomy. Are you giving your employees the chance to express themselves and make adjustments as long as the quality and quantity of their work is up to par?
Notice this list doesn’t include pay. Do people need money and look for it from their job? Of course, but that doesn’t mean more pay will automatically create greater job performance. So let’s be clear: Pay is important, but it only goes so far. Commitment, motivation, work ethic, and yes, engagement, are simply not based on pay.
This list shouldn’t surprise you, because it includes many of the things you want too, doesn’t it? Keep that in mind and remember that your employees are people just like you. We all want more of these things in our lives and work. When you provide them, you increase engagement. It really is that simple.