Remote workers can no longer be rewarded by donuts or pizza in the breakroom. And thank goodness. The staggering shift to remote and hybrid opportunities – with 72% of organizations planning for some form of permanent remote work in the future – has left leaders considering new ways to motivate and inspire their teams from home.
And while everyone appreciates a catered lunch, there’s so much more to the employee experience than providing fleeting, material happiness. Businesses must now consider how to establish or refresh their culture so that it not only delivers a superior remote employee experience, but also retains and attracts employees down the road.
If you’re thinking about establishing (or have already developed) a remote employee culture, here are four aspects to consider to strengthen your employee experience.
Create a Safe and Inclusive Culture
Thirty-five percent of HR leaders list diversity, equity, and inclusion as a priority, yet employers often see these underrepresented groups leave not long after being hired. What’s going on?
It’s because while many companies are concerned about creating a diverse workforce, they’re not focusing on creating a safe and inclusive culture while working remotely.
If you’ve worked hard creating a culture of respect and inclusivity in-person, it’s important to double-down and ensure those measures transfer to your remote employee experience.
Barry Marshall, CEO and founding partner of P5 Collaborative Consulting, warns, “Diverse talent is going to walk if there’s not inclusive awareness.”
Consider the following when analyzing your remote culture:
- Are your community and work expectations tied to your values?
- Are you providing multiple opportunities for your employees to connect and be involved?
- Are you transparent about your salary and promotion efforts?
- Are you hiring people for leadership roles from underrepresented groups?
- Are you providing a space for employees to share information about themselves to foster a sense of community?
ChartHop’s employee profiles allow coworkers and managers to learn more about people’s work and personal passions.
Celebrate Wins in Your Community
A powerful way to further your remote employee experience, as well as your inclusivity and transparency initiatives, is by publicly celebrating wins within your work community. And while some leaders may believe that simple acknowledgments may not count for much, the numbers say otherwise.
According to Great Place to Work’s collected survey responses, people who feel recognized at work are more likely to think that promotions are fair, say that innovative thinking is embraced, and to go “above and beyond” in their roles.
So how can companies continuously acknowledge remote employees to increase engagement and inspiration?
Practice Gratitude as a Team
By valuing your people’s emotional and mental wellbeing, you also set your team up for professional success. It’s been found that gratitude is a simple yet effective practice to bond teammates, boost self-esteem, and increase productivity.
Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at UC Davis, confirms that gratitude can lower the stress hormone cortisol by 23% and reduce the risk of depression by 41%. But common activities involving gratitude, including taking turns stating what you’re thankful for, can be uncomfortable and at times too personal.
That’s why the software development team Atlassian embeds gratitude prompts (as seen below) into team meetings. By providing people with a variety of sentence starters, team leads are intentional about making everyone feel comfortable, included, and heard.
Atlassian provides various prompt cards for their teams to help start the conversation and share connections.
Shoutouts as Meeting Openers and via Slack
Do you miss catching up on others’ weekends or meeting new team members when refilling your coffee? One way to recreate these brief yet important connections is to schedule it on your employees’ calendars or your meeting agenda. By scheduling time for employees to recognize the efforts of teammates, you’ll start meetings on a positive note and applaud everyone’s collaboration.
For acknowledgement with greater visibility, consider using Slack or other tech platforms to send thank yous, shoutouts, and other awards. Whether you choose to create your own Slack channel, such as Hubstaff’s #hubstars, to call out coworkers’ achievements, or integrate Slack with your people operations platform, you’ll allow everyone to celebrate your people’s wins.
Aisha Lawrey, Head of Amazon’s Global Education Programs, believes it’s important for individual team members to have the opportunity to share their wins with their peers. Simply put, she says, “Accomplishments do not speak for themselves.”
But in order to make it not appear like bragging, it’s imperative that leaders set an example by modeling this behavior. A natural way to incorporate shared wins is by enacting intentional recognitions like a ritual called Winsday Wednesday.
For ChartHop’s marketing department, Winsday Wednesday allows team members to share personal and professional wins for the week. Chief Marketing Officer Diana Kucer explains: “Big milestones tend to get a lot of recognition, but they can be infrequent and don’t represent the entirety of what we do all day in our jobs or lives. It’s important to celebrate the little moments along the journey to help us appreciate our work, and as a side benefit it gives teammates insight into what peers are up to. The personal wins remind us to celebrate the small things that bring us joy during our day-to-day lives, and it helps us get to know each other better, which adds humanity to our interactions and creates a more tight-knit community.”
Virtual Recognition Programs
Lastly, you can foster community through a virtual employee recognition program. With corporate outings, holiday parties, and team-building getaways limited or gone forever, recognizing individual and team wins can go a long way.
If you want to host a meeting specifically to acknowledge employees, do it for big wins such as large closed deals, promotions, newly developed committees, and industry awards.
Beyond work-related employee appreciation, many companies also recognize their people’s contributions to their communities. Hewlett-Packard chooses to promote and enhance their employees’ self-wellness by encouraging volunteering. Employees that volunteer at least 10 hours per quarter receive a $50 Good Card; this allows them to donate to a chosen charity or give more to their community without spending personal money.
Engage Openly and Often With Continuous Performance Reviews
Even in the remote world, managers are still the intermediary between executives and individual contributors. But without an office space, managers don’t have the luxury of meeting their people in person, let alone stopping by someone’s desk or making small talk. This can be a hindrance to effective communication and collaboration.
That’s why continuous performance management is so important. It allows team leads to consistently connect with their reports and helps ensure that employees are receiving helpful, real-time feedback to help them execute current tasks.
Using a standardized form to conduct 1:1 reviews will help ensure consistency, fairness, and transparency across your entire organization.
However, some executives like Ken Griffin, Citadel’s hedge fund manager, fear that remote connections will interfere with career development opportunities. He states, “It’s incredibly difficult to have the managerial experiences and interpersonal experiences that you need to have to take your career forward in a work-remotely environment.”
Instead of allowing this apprehension to fuel strict return-to-office policies, leaders can see this gap as an opportunity to change remote processes. By establishing continuous performance review cycles, mentorship programs, and explicit steps for promotions, businesses can provide remote career development opportunities without sacrificing their employees’ professional growth.
Provide a Superior Employee Experience, No Matter Where You Work
Whether you are fully in-office, remote, or take a hybrid approach, it’s important to create a superior employee experience. It’s also critical to consistently analyze and refresh your company culture after collecting employee surveys and using other metrics. It’s through this intentionality and transparency that your employees will feel supported, motivated, and ready to achieve their goals.
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