Remote working and work-from-home is a convenient trend that's gaining traction since the global pandemic has struck all our lives. Many tech companies like adobe, and Facebook have gone WFH at least till June of 2021. Twitter and Square has announce Work From Home Forever Option.
It's high time for employers to learn different ways to keep your remote employees engaged motivated and happy. This includes activities such as fostering personal connections and gamifying the team work, encouraging wellness programs and celebrating your workers to keep their spirit high!
We spoke with top executives from 15 companies across the country, speaking up and endorsing their views on how they are keeping up the employee engagement and well-being. So here we present different ways to to take care your "family" remotely.
Khushboo Solanki - Founder, Zero Gravity Communications
While technology and product companies could easily swift into work from home creative fields where the output comes from interaction and stimulating discussion with different creative disciplines.
We used to do Monday morning team meetings. There used to be a quick presentation on last week's issues and problems team-based while working from. We also made sure we discuss mental health and keep everyone’s spirit high since WFH can be demotivating at times.
We aren’t working remotely now, but we are working with all safety protocols in place. We are testing the team every week to make sure everyone‘s health is in check. There is proper health guidelines maintain from our management side.
Shantanu Rooj - Founder, SchoolGuru Eduserve
Companies are trying many innovative ways to keep their employees motivated and in good humour in these trying times. Employee engagement activities like Town Halls, where people discuss the developments happening in the company and share information work as good breakout sessions.
A comprehensive and consistent internal communication strategy ensures that there is a flow of information all along and helps keep employees engaged. Several organisations are also using innovative rewards and recognition policies to appreciate the hard work that teams are putting in. Trainings are being organised to upskill/reskill employees - that has a higher signaling value
Ganesh Kumar Anegondi - Founder, Spacemen Digital
The pandemic has been hard on every individual, especially on those working in digital
agencies as we work with hard deadlines. As a company, we have taken a policy to put
employees well being first. We started more employee happiness initiatives. The primary one being giving off to everyone every alternate Friday! We have started other initiatives as well such as no meeting Friday, weekly fun catchups where we just chit chat, sing and talk for an hour over a video call. We have a lunch break and tea break where no meetings can be scheduled across the organization.
We started being very mindful of taking aggressive deadlines. Overall, this pandemic has taught us to become employee-centric and become policies that are employee-friendly.
Sankar Bora - Founder & COO, DealShare
The one thing that we figured is that the pandemic may lead to reduction in work performance and that is why right from the beginning we made sure that the weekly routines for all the employees are not focused only on the tactical work like accomplishing the concrete plans one need to execute. Rather half of the week we made sure that all the employees focused on adaptive performance, where there was no plan to follow, but instead, one is free to experiment and focus on problem-solving. Like on Monday a performance cycle meeting for the team was held that covered the result of the previous week, the commitments of the present week and what areas to experiment on to improve the performance. From Tuesday-Thursday we make sure that we have at least one individual meeting with each of the team members. By which we motivate them, help them focus on tackle challenges that are a slight stretch.
Along with that all the managers are asked to coordinate small group meetings in which their team members can collaborate on the week’s experiments and tackle problems together. And on Friday’s we focus on reflection. Help the employees showcase and gather input on the experiments of the week. Because It’s important for the employees to check in on each other’s motivation and progress. And as a leader, I feel it is really important to set the example by asking people how they are feeling: Where did they face struggle with their motivation, and where did they thrive?
Sumit Garg - Co-Founder, Luxury Ride
At Luxury Ride, we believe our employees are our pillars, we stand with them and they are our extended family. At Luxury Ride, we want our employees to be financially stable and be high on morale and thus there are no salary cuts or layoffs of employees. We have introduced the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), promoted our employees, have given them incentives in cash.
We are organizing informal social connect session, emphasizing the need to balance family and household, online training on wellness, fitness, and learning sessions. We are also organizing various training programs for our employees which will add value to them both personally and professionally.
Robin Das - Co-founder, Brandintellé Services
We believe in working together and combining all our strengths together as one. Amidst this pandemic we have continued to keep the morale and engagement of our employees high by keeping the communication game strong, formally & informally. Here is what we do for the same -
Slack- Invested in an effective communication tool to connect with all on the same portal.
Daily Scrum- To check with all the employees daily to do tasks and address the problem, if any.
Virtual Celebration- Sending virtual cards for birthdays, anniversaries, new joinee or farewell along with calls with the team. Ice Breaking sessions to help new joinees open up to the team and make new friends.
Flexible Work Timings- Each team has its own style of working and the main focus is only on the output.
Mandatory Video ON calls at least twice a week to ensure teammates are more connected with visual contact.
Mr. Prasad Rajappan - Founder & CEO, ZingHR
Often, employees work beyond their shift timing, they are ignoring the fact that it will ultimately affect their physical and mental well-being which indirectly affects the business outcomes of the enterprises and also the health of the employees. The employees need emotional connect in tough times which we are all going through right now.
Many of our client organizations are reaching out to us to enable HR Tech tools like Online Surveys to understand the pulse of the employees, their wellbeing and engagement level, timesheets to track the daily activities, help-desk management through which any employee can reach out to the respective departments in the organization for urgent needs, mobile- learning to ensure contactless knowledge and information dissemination with Multilingual mobile-based Learning.
Udit joshi - Topline Consulting Group
A critical virtue that will beat the Work-From-Home fatigue is Ownership. Topline lays huge emphasis on this capability in its resources. We train our employees to build ownership from the time of their induction with periodic reviews and goal setting. It hugely takes away the stress of micro-management faced by over 40% of managers in most other companies.
For the Emotional Quotient, we ensure our resources are sensitized and practice empathy. We break up the goals to give ourselves shorter snackable targets to keep the efficiency and momentum high. Each achievement and development are celebrated together as it boosts team’s morale, creates belongingness and raises the spirits. Our team is our strength and with them, our vision and mission to become a global organization strengthen even more.
Gopalan Anish Acharya - Founder, Medveda Educare
Normally, the employees might feel zoned out or they may start feeling isolated and may lose their interest in work. Moreover, the pandemic is still not over, so this is the time when they will need counseling the most. Many organizations have started to realize the importance of having a corporate wellness program in the workplace. These initiatives are specifically designed to help the employees or staff members to take a break from their sedentary lifestyle and set their foot into a healthier lifestyle. Asking for feedback is another way to increase employee engagement in the workplace. However, it is a two-way process. Feedbacks should be given by both employers and employees. This way, the employees may feel that their opinions matter and it plays an important role in the company.
Pankit Desai - Co-founder and CEO, Sequretek
While we at Sequretek, ensure that communication within the organization is frequent, transparent and consistent, Zoom fatigue is very real. We make sure that meetings don't overlap with employees' personal days and timings, with a dedicated login and logout time. There have been other communications from our HR around safety and security, reinforcing the message of maintaining hygiene and staying safe.
A daily state of affairs newsletter is shared by our COO, that basically sheds light on the current Covid-19 situation: how things are getting impacted, what are the things we should be watching out for, what opportunities hackers would use, the scenarios to look out for, basically keeping our employees abreast with information but backed from a data perspective than rumours.
Satpal Yadav - Co-Founder, AKS Clothing
There is no doubt that difficult times and interacting with your team and keeping them engaged can help ease some tension and boost morale. There are a number of ways for the companies to engage with their employees.
The first thing to do would be to prune the grapevine. And the best way to stop rumors from spreading is to be transparent and update your team about the challenges that the organization is facing. Rumors often start whenever there is lack of communication. The organizations need to inform their employees about the safety measures they’re putting in place to reassure their teams that their safety would not be compromised. Any policy or workflow changes should also be conveyed at the earliest.
The second thing to do would be to not get embroiled too much into the tragedy of current scenario. Obviously, the employers need to acknowledge the present – which does seem gloomy – but they should look beyond it and make their team visualize the same. As devastating as Covid-19 has been, much like all other natural disasters, it would eventually pass away, and those who are preparing for the future – for the new normal – would have a competitive edge over others, who are only looking to survive. Also, by placing a bigger goal for the organization, the employers can motivate their teams and usher in a much-needed wave of positivity.
Finally, the normal that will come after the pandemic subsides would be a new normal and instead of trying to revert to the old way, it would be prudent to adapt to the new. Adapting though is easier said than done. This is why business owners must take their employees into confidence, make them feel like an integral part of the business and encourage them to devise strategies for the new normal. Thus, you will be able to create a way for the employees to collaborate, create and contribute to the change”.
Shivani Sanwal - HR Business Partner, Moglix
Lack of community belongingness is a significant downside of working remotely. Human resource leaders are leveraging technology to re-imagine their internal communication strategy, stay plugged into business, and check on employees’ general wellbeing.
Many enterprises have hired psychologists to address people's woes and facilitate online counseling sessions for employees to seek expert assistance on emotional wellbeing. Moreover, people managers are encouraging employees to share their psychological issues without worrying about social taboos and ensuring that employees do not have to suffer silently.
Dr Malini Saba - Founder, Saba Group&Anannke Foundations
As our employees began working from home, we implemented a systematic approach for their engagement that has eight pillars – occupational, social, physical, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, financial and emotional. These pillars are aimed at the holistic development of our employees – both at a professional and personal level.
Our employees have been happier working from home & have yielded better results as they save commute time & get to spend more time with their families. We conduct sessions remotely and focus on the specific requirements of the individuals, the first 10-15 minutes of a virtual meeting is discussing business and then we have Leadership sessions, Motivational talks on self-care and parenting, moderate discussions, book summaries, psychological counselling etc. Teams connect over a cup of coffee, play Online games, bring pets & children during video calls, share picture streams, celebrate birthdays & festivals and more. These conversations have seemed very effective in preventing potential burnout, isolation and boost discipline among our employees.
Rashi Agarwal - Co-founder and CBO, ZYPP Electric Mobility
Zypp has given the option to work from home till December 2020 to function areas like Tech, Finance and Marketing. Zypp has got all its team insured for any kind of health concerns including Covid-19 too.
Also, to know the pulse of the team, Zypp is using eNPS and SSK surveys to understand the employees' requirements and act on it.
We also work on some remote team-building activities through google meets to keep teams motivated remotely. We are also working on KPI's and job scorecards to give better direction and action plan to teams to get better productivity. Also, we have a monthly way of celebrating happiness either via party or cake cutting, and all hand events rewarding the best performer too from time to time.
Mr. Dinesh Kumar TK - VP(HR), Aspire Systems
Our HR Partners and managers connect with Aspirians regularly to discuss and resolve any concerns. The senior leadership team connects with managers to give regular updates and gain understanding about what is happening with the teams.
Due to the unprecedented lifestyle changes that have been thrust upon us now, it is natural to feel overwhelmed. Through our mental health and wellness initiative, MindSpa, our employees can reach out to our in-house counsellor when they require support and guidance. We also conduct Online yoga classes by partnering with a professional trainer.
As a trust-building measure, we have also taken steps to ensure Aspirians receive adequate care if they are affected by COVID-19 by supporting them with a leave of 10 days and providing them with an exclusive Covid insurance cover of 2 lakhs per head for the individual and their families.
While working remotely has its fair share of benefits, like saving time and money commutes and encouraging better work-life balance, it also has some downsides. Because they're not in the office with their team, remote workers often feel less engaged and connected to their company, which can hurt productivity and performance.
We hope the the above ideas will surely help you with for your own employee engagement programme.