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Engaging a Remote Workforce: What You Need to Know

In times of certainty, employee engagement matters, whether your workers are remote or not.


Think of engagement as the emotional precursor to extraordinary work. The research shows that engagement is the biggest influencer of productivity, performance and quality. The high uncertainty in the world right now, with work environments undergoing significant change overnight, means that employees’ emotional well-being is even more important than it’s ever been. Unfortunately, that also means we are more likely than ever to be uncertain about how to engage employees.  

There are many aspects of work that are unknown right now, but there are some tenets of employee engagement that we know for sure. I’ve helped clients around the globe — across industries, organizational sizes and working structures — achieve engagement results time after time. There are four “rights” that are essential to moving the needle on engagement. You can read more about each “right” here, but in brief, successful engagement strategies require:

  • The right questions to ask;
  • The right time to ask them;
  • The right people to receive your engagement data; and
  • The right actions to drive engagement.

The data shows us that if you ask the right questions at the right time to the right people to provide visibility into how team members are experiencing work, you can focus on accelerating and sustaining engagement by taking the right actions.

The secret sauce is simple: radically frequent attention from the most important person to us at work. When team leaders give light-touch attention to team members at the right cadence, it can elevate engagement by 1.5x to 3x. It doesn’t matter whether the attention is virtual or in-person, written or verbal, “coachy” or not “coachy.” It just needs to be frequent, work-focused and real.

And while I see results from organization after organization indicating these light-touch check-ins are most powerful when they occur weekly, I recommend dialing up the frequency in times of uncertainty. As people need to stay informed, feel seen and keep their focus, check-ins will help. Even as workers move physically farther apart, there is no reason for them not to feel close. Change, regardless of source, is a constant. Connection should be constant too.

As leaders and practitioners, we have the tendency to overengineer the process and overprescribe the structure. The best advice I can give right now is to focus on what matters most and create the space to actually do it.

By giving your leaders a light-touch and local way connect with their people, you will bring the focus and energy needed to keep employees engaged wherever they work.

About the Author  

Amy Leschke-Kahle is the vice president of performance acceleration at The Marcus Buckingham Company, an ADP Company.

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