(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Workhuman® [formerly known as Globoforce]. They help organizations energize their cultures and unlock employees’ passion and potential with the fastest-growing social recognition and continuous performance management platform. Enjoy the article!)
We’re starting to see areas of the world relax shelter-in-place restrictions and begin the process of reopening. But I think we can all agree we’re far from what we might call “normal.” Most of the plans I’ve heard involve a phased approach that will take months to open many businesses and schools.
For example, where I live, the governor just announced schools will continue to do distance learning for the remainder of this school year, even though businesses will slowly reopen. I wonder what that means for parents who will have homeschooling responsibilities. Will they need to remain remote employees to accommodate this situation? Or what about individuals who have been identified as higher risk. Should they continue to do remote work for the foreseeable future?
Honestly, I don’t know that I have all the answers about when workers can return to their physical office space. But I do know that remote work is still going to be around for a while.
Organizations Need to Support Remote Employees
In my opinion, the hardest part of being a remote employee is the feeling of disconnectedness. Most work environments rely on seeing employees to communicate. When employees can’t see each other, sometimes we forget that the need for connection still exists. There are two ways that remote employees can stay connected with the organization.
Let’s talk about the obvious one first. Employees need to feel connected via the work they do. This is the foundation for employee engagement. Employees want to know that their work has a direct connection to organizational goals. In a traditional office environment, employees make that connection via performance feedback from their manager and co-workers.
In addition, employees want to know that their goals are still relevant. If there’s a shift in organizational priorities, employees want to hear about it in a timely fashion and have a conversation with their manager about updating goals. It’s essential for managers to have regular conversations with employees about the work. And, it is essential for remote employees to have conversations with each other about the work.
The second area that employees want to feel connection is in their work life. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that employees want to bring their whole selves to the workplace. It’s one of the things we love about being in a traditional office environment – the camaraderie.
Remember back when toilet paper was readily available, and our co-workers would decorate our office with it?! While we hated it back then, we’re missing it now. And, our boss remembered our work anniversary with a pizza party. Then there were those times when we would show our co-workers pictures from our kid’s graduation, our latest vacation photos, and pictures of our new dog after he chewed up a pair of expensive shoes (but he looked really cute doing it). While I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek with these examples, you get my point. Research tells us that the key to employee retention is for employees to feel like they have friends and people who care about them at work.
There’s a Way for Remote Employees to Stay Connected
The question becomes: How do we give employees those two things – a way to feel connected at work and a way to stay connected with the team? Well, Workhuman offers two products that can help: Life Events® and Conversations®.
Life Events is a way for employees to share the milestones in their life. They include things like moving into a new home, getting married or having a child, or finishing a marathon. For many employees, their work family is just as important as their home family and they want to share these events.
We all know these conversations happen in a traditional work environment. They take place in offices, before meetings, in the hallways, and during breaks. Workhuman’s Life Events allows remote employees to share their happiness with the entire organization.
Conversations is a solution that allows employees to connect their work to the organization’s shared purpose. It focuses on feedback, check-ins, and goal setting.
And performance results are especially important right now. Employees want to know that they’re accomplishing stuff. Because getting things done feels good. With Workhuman’s Conversations, employees can create a dashboard that gives them a view of what they’re working on along with real-time feedback from others. This allows the employee to stay focused on results.
The reason I’m bringing up these two programs from Workhuman® Cloud is because Workhuman is offering them both to organizations for FREE until March 2021. In fact, Workhuman is also offering their signature Gratitudes product, which is focused on peer-to-peer recognition. (Yes, that’s not a typo. All three products are FREE until next year.) I asked Workhuman CEO Eric Moseley why Workhuman was doing this. “The world’s workforce is in social despair due to COVID-19, and it’s more important than ever that business leaders are creating and maintaining human connections with their entire workforce. It’s incredibly important that employee lives are being recognized and celebrated, gratitude and optimism is being shared, and managers have an ongoing cadence of check-ins with their teams. It’s our hope that these mission critical tools can help organizations connect their people during these unprecedented times.”
I have had the pleasure of working with the Workhuman team for several years and am always in awe of their generosity. Eric shared with me Workhuman’s goal of helping organizations through this challenge: “Humanity loves company and today’s distributed and isolated workforces are presenting a major challenge to business leaders when it comes to maintaining a strong company culture and keeping employees engaged. Now that we’re all separated, our relationship Infrastructure needs to be enhanced, nurtured, and celebrated because it’s really what’s getting most of us through this time.”
If you want to take advantage of this FREE offer (and why wouldn’t you?!) just sign up using this link. Again, the products will be free until March 2021. Workhuman is a company that cares about the future of work. They know that involves creating a more human workplace. Even during these challenging times, it’s possible to give remote employees the support they need.
Supporting Remote Workers Now Sets the Stage for a Successful Return
Let me leave you with this thought: I know right now remote work is on everyone’s mind. We’re trying to figure out how to make employee’s lives easier so they can focus on the work (along with all the other things going on). But employees are going to need this level of support not only now, but also as we transition back to the office environment and even after.
Great workplaces support their employees all the time, not just when things are tough. The key is creating the company culture that treats employees as humans all year long.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Boston, MA11