Updated: Feb 5
Whether you’re with a business or an organization, chances are you’ve already incorporated the use of video conferencing tools, instant messaging channels and virtual meetings as key strategies for engagement and ongoing communication.
But is that enough?
We’re almost one year into mandatory work-from-home orders for millions — and for almost as long, organizations world-wide have been expanding their use of technology to stay connected with one another.
Today, remote working is no longer an incentive for some employees in some companies — it’s the new reality for most of us. And, for organizations such as unions and associations, online engagement is the only option for maintaining face-to-face connections with their membership.
We’ve compiled six ideas for strategies you can add to your engagement efforts:
1. All The Feels
Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work, defines employee engagement as “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.”
For member organizations, engagement is the feeling of belonging or recognition. Either way, think through the emotions your employees or members might be experiencing, and reflect on the impact of those emotions on engagement.
In their report called 2020 State of Remote Work, social media management company Buffer says people responding to their annual survey listed communication and collaboration (20%) and loneliness (20%) as their biggest struggles with working remotely.
Many experts suggest providing regular events and activities that encourage people to gather informally online — think drop-in virtual coffee chats; online book clubs; or creating a virtual water-cooler space on messaging channels like Slack.
Giving people a social forum that’s not work- or organization-related helps foster human connections among teams, friendships among members, and incentives to stay part of your community.
2. The Freedom To Unplug
The third biggest struggle indicated in the 2020 Buffer survey (mentioned above) was not being able to unplug (18%). This is especially challenging when entire families are working and learning from home. Enabling people to better balance their workload with their life outside work is critical.
In the TalentLyft blog post 10 Actionable Work From Home Employee Engagement Ideas, writer Anja Zojceska suggests holding a short video meeting she calls Friday close-off meetings.
“At the end of the workday on each Friday, gather your team for a short, half an hour video meeting. Use it to acknowledge the work you have done during the week, celebrate your wins and share plans for the weekend,” she writes. Use it also to signal the end of work until the next week.
It’s vital that managers and leaders serve as role-models who refrain from sending or responding to emails outside of working hours. This also shows respect — and feeling respected is an important ingredient of engagement. In fact, a global study of nearly 20,000 employees by Christine Porath, an Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, found that people ranked respect as the leadership behaviour that matters most.
3. Purposeful Video Meetings
Nothing causes people to lose motivation like unnecessary video meetings and unfocused video meetings that go on too long. Whether you are a business or an organization, try to keep your meetings to one hour.
Establish a clear purpose for the meeting. If it’s needed to conduct the business of a company or an organization, make sure you invite only those who will have something to contribute. Creating and sharing an agenda before the meeting — and then sticking to it — will help keep people engaged.
Bonus tip: if you have a regularly scheduled meeting, giving different people the chance to chair it every time can also foster engagement.
4. Trust And Flexibility
With the sudden shift to working from home, most people are now juggling work deadlines with keeping their office spaces clean, using new technologies, sharing WiFi with partners and children, and much more. Some may be living and working in different time zones.
If you are an employer, avoid insisting on strict “office hours,” because employees who feel micromanaged also feel more stressed and less engaged. Instead, put your focus on creating meaningful goals: providing clear objectives, reasonable timelines and the resources needed — then trust your employees to meet those goals.
A survey done in late 2020 by PwC (a global network of firms delivering assurance, tax and consulting services for business) seems to confirm that this trust is well-placed: 52% of managers said their employees are more productive now than they were before the pandemic.
For unions and associations, flexibility is a bonus that comes with building an online community because you can record events or meetings, then make them available for those who can’t attend live. Giving people the ability to engage with your content whenever and wherever works best for them is a thoughtful gesture that demonstrates the importance of involving your entire membership.
5. Encourage Online Learning
Even during a pandemic, giving people opportunities for personal and professional development is a key component of engagement. Whether it’s a union or association providing a speaker series or webinar, or a company investing in an e-learning platform that employees can access, look for ways to empower people to gain new skills and knowledge.
Don’t limit the opportunities only to work-related learning, because giving people new outlets for their energies and creativity is a practical way to combat stress and anxiety.
6. Recognition And Rewards
A robust rewards program is one of the most valuable investments your business or organization will make.
For a business, simple acts of appreciation and low-cost perks can go a long way when it comes to keeping employees motivated and happy to stay — and that’s an incentive for you, when compared to the costs of replacing and retraining team members, or adding costly benefits.
For both business and organizations, one of the easiest and most popular types of recognition and rewards programs is offering exclusive discounts on a wide range of products and services.
These programs are usually managed by a third party and are easy to organize. Look for a provider that will manage the entire program for you — and that has a strong track record of securing deals that appeal to a broad range of people at every stage of their career.
Use these six ideas as a jumping off point for approaches that might work for your organization or business, and adjust them to meet the interests and needs of your members and employees.
To learn more about the BOOM Member Rewards and Loyalty Platform click here.