Two employees co-working on line with a laptop at office

The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many teams work together. With so many companies working from home or in remote locations, keeping employees connected and engaged is difficult. If you’re looking for ways to foster your employee engagement, think of this as your go-to guide.

From the importance of self-care and informal check-ins to employee recognition, we’ve rounded up the best ways to improve your employee engagement during COVID-19. Let’s start getting your team better connected.

1. Recognize and Celebrate Hard Work and Big Wins

When you can’t be in person, working together on big sales pitches or important meetings, it’s easy to let the good things go unnoticed. Now more than ever, employees need encouragement to stay motivated. Consider an employee performance recognition that empowers your employees and recognizes their hard work.

When you finish or reach a big goal, your employees should feel connected and celebrated. With everything going on, it’s important to show your employees you appreciate them during an employee engagement review.

Employees who are appropriately recognized are happier at work. Any investment you make in a recognition program will save you money in the long run. You’ll see less turnover, fewer sick days, and more productive employees who are happy to come to work.

2. Employee Engagement Definition: The Connected Employee

So what is employee engagement? Employee engagement is all about how connected an employee feels with their organization. With people working remotely, it’s difficult to stay connected. To keep employees engaged and communicating, encourage regular check-ins. A touch base each day will help everyone feel in the loop and up to speed.

When you can’t remind someone of something around the water cooler or pop into an office for a quick question, a connection is critical. You’ll want to make sure everyone feels like they know what is going on and what’s needed.

Virtual meetings for the sake of meetings aren’t the answer either. Many people get meeting fatigue. Stay connected in other ways with text messages, quick calls, emails, or online chats.

Priorities can shift at any moment. Check-ins allow team members to determine what should get done next and when the deadline is. If no one knows when something is due, it’s easy to give precedence to another project. Check-ins keep everyone on the same page.

3. Create Informal Communication Opportunities

In addition to more formal check-ins, you also want to make sure people have a place to catch up and talk without a formal meeting. Sometimes you just want to vent about kids walking in on big meetings or who lost a sports game. When you aren’t seeing people in person, it can feel lonely.

Create more opportunities for easy, light interactions. These can be done on most chat platforms with just a few clicks. You can also create spaces to play games, trivia, and discuss new books or television shows.

These informal communications go along way to help employees feel included and connected. Every morning start off the day with a joke, riddle, or funny story from your day. Team members will get a quick laugh and automatically feel connected to someone first thing in the morning.

4. Employee Engagement Strategies: Virtual Get-Togethers

If your team regularly had happy hours, lunch meetings, or group dinners, you can still do virtual versions of these events. To host a bigger virtual, get together, you can send employees a gift card to purchase their favorite treats. Everyone brings their drink of choice to the virtual happy hour and let the fun begin.

You can play online games, bingo, or trivia. Have fun with it and enjoy some virtual company. On a smaller scale, encourage a little silliness with pajama day or hat day. Everyone wears the designated theme and you’ll get some good laughs during virtual meetings.

Another fun idea is to create a space for recipe sharing or work from home hacks. If you’ve found a good meal prep or crockpot dinner, share it on the portal. With everyone eating at home more often, it’s nice to have some new recipes to put into the rotation.

If you’ve found any good hacks or tricks to make remote work easier or more enjoyable, share these too. Tips help everyone feel more connected and like they are all in this together.

5. Encourage Well-Being and Self-Care

With everything going on in the world, stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. Encourage employees to take some time for themselves. Many employees aren’t traveling or taking time off to visit people due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Encourage your employees to use their paid time off. Not taking any time for themselves will cause burn out. You’ll see more sick days, more employee turnover, and less productivity.

To help keep your employees going during tough times, consider offering virtual workout classes or training programs. Start a walking challenge or use a fitness tracking app to give employees motivation to workout. You could also offer discounted fitness memberships or credits towards the cost of classes.

By encouraging physical fitness you’re also helping your employees with their mental health. These types of perks show your employees you care about their well-being. It shows you’re invested in them as people and not just numbers on a spreadsheet.

In turn, employees will feel more engaged and connected with you. Employees with a good work-life balance who are able to make health a priority are happier and more loyal.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

Employee engagement helps individuals feel a part of the big picture. Employees want to know they are valued. The more engaged they are, the more loyal and productive they’ll be. It isn’t very motivating to work for someone who never takes the time to connect with you.

With remote work at an all-time high, there’s never been a better time to foster employee engagement and deeper connections. For more business tips, head to the blog section for more great resources and guides.