How to Manage and Engage Remote Employees

Posted on

August 2nd, 2022


Working from home became an unavoidable reality during the pandemic. Many businesses have cautiously resumed in-person operations, but numerous continue to offer the option to work from home for part of the workweek. Some companies are 100% remote by choice, either due to a distributed workforce or the nature of their services.

Whatever the reason may be, managing a remote staff has unique challenges. The following are several strategies company leadership can use to manage employees outside of a traditional office setting successfully:

  1. Equip employees with the tools they need. Most employees only need a laptop with a reliable internet connection to work from home. However, many employees overestimate the speed of their home Wi-Fi. While it may be sufficient for one individual on a video conference, it may struggle if other people in the house are using streaming services. Employees may not be able to upgrade their internet speed, but many virtual meeting platforms include an option to toggle off video. Only using the voice function puts less strain on the connection.
  2. Check-in often. It’s easy for projects to go astray or fall off the radar altogether when teams can’t work in the same space. Scheduling frequent check-ins allows managers to keep projects on track and ensure employees’ work aligns with the company’s priorities. Managers can make these meetings more enjoyable by including a coffee break or using the time as an opportunity to brainstorm and share ideas.
  3. Prioritize clarity. Regular check-ins can rapidly become burdensome if managers spend the entire time addressing discrepancies or misunderstandings. It also frustrates employees, as they feel like they’ve wasted their time or need to work overtime to fix a project. Regular communication through a team chat, phone calls, and virtual meetings can eliminate confusion and discontent among the staff.
  4. Build camaraderie. Working from home can be lonely, and employees may miss breakroom small talk. Employees need to feel like they’re part of a team and understand why their work matters. Companies can establish weekly virtual coffee breaks, lunches, or workout sessions to inject some much-needed fun into the workday.

Remote employees can quickly spiral into disengagement and burnout without competent and considerate management. Attendance problems are also more likely without the proper support. It’s easy to start late, log off early, or take long lunches without regular supervision. Contact Actec to learn how our absence tracking mobile app can help you manage your remote workforce.

How to Improve Employee Engagement with SMART Goals

Posted on

October 5th, 2021


Every company has big-picture goals, but it’s not always a straightforward matter to achieve them. Managers may struggle to keep employees engaged, or employees may not understand their role in the process. Team- or company-wide goals are easy enough to grasp, but how to accomplish them becomes murky when broken down to the employee level. Using the SMART approach to setting goals can cut through this confusion and allow employees to engage with their work to the best of their ability.

Understanding SMART Goals

The SMART method isn’t a new concept, but many businesses fail to keep it in mind when setting goals. The SMART criteria are Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using these elements allows companies to create measurable goals that outline what employees or teams need to accomplish on a specific timeline. The SMART approach also allows companies to provide clear markers of success, whether it’s a certain number of sales or a percentage increase in customer engagement because they can track the results.

  • S: Specific goals eliminate confusion by providing details on what the objective is, what team or employee is responsible for it, and what steps those individuals need to take next.
  • M: Measurable goals are much easier to quantify because they have data to examine. If a company sets a goal to increase social media engagement, it also needs to identify benchmarks of success. One additional customer comment compared to the month before technically constitutes an increase, but it’s not likely what the company had in mind. Setting measurable targets eliminates confusion on what counts as success.
  • A: Unrealistic goals will leave employees frustrated and destroy productivity. When companies reach this point in goal setting, they need to take a hard look at the feasibility of the goal. If the goal is too demanding or big in scale, employees will struggle to achieve it.
  • R: Employees won’t understand the point of a goal if it lacks relevancy. This part of the method explains why the goal is important to the company’s long-term success and how employees contribute to that end.
  • T: Employees need to know the timeline for achieving their goals. If they aren’t clear on when tasks are due to keep the goal on track, they’ll struggle to distribute their workload effectively. Similarly, if the timeline is too short, employees won’t be able to produce the quality of work required for true success.

When employees understand their role and tasks, why it matters, and what management expects of them, their productivity increases exponentially. Without knowing these things, they’re likely to flounder and disengage from their work. Disengaged employees don’t see the importance of what they do and are much less motivated to do their work. This kind of thinking can result in absenteeism, poor workplace morale, and lost profits. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about improving employee engagement and attendance.

4 Ways to Help Employees Struggling with Burnout

Posted on

July 6th, 2021


The ongoing pandemic has drastically altered how many businesses operate. Some are 100% remote, while others are taking a hybrid approach as the outlook on COVID-19 improves. These changes have forced many employees to adapt quickly. Employees who work from home have to juggle their family’s needs with their work responsibilities. Others have had to take on more duties or learn new technology to meet deadlines in a remote work environment.

Unsurprisingly, these factors have resulted in skyrocketing rates of stress, depression, and anxiety among employees. Businesses can use the following strategies to help employees struggling with burnout:

  1. Provide value-based rewards. Performance-based rewards have their place, but their primary goal is to encourage employees to work harder. By nature, they’re more likely to worsen burnout than to alleviate it. Employees need to know they have value as a person beyond their work productivity. To put it another way, they need to feel like they are more than a cog in the business machine. Some value-based rewards include gift cards, bonus paid leave, or closing the office early without requiring a performance benchmark.
  2. Avoid knee-jerk penalties. Many companies have systems in place that trigger punitive action automatically, such as an attendance policy. For example, the first tardy arrival may result in a verbal warning, the second a written warning, and so on. However, this practice doesn’t consider the why when it comes to employee attendance. Instead, companies should take a holistic view of the employee’s past attendance record. If that individual is usually punctual, the company should investigate to gain context for the situation. Burned-out employees may not feel comfortable bringing up the issue, and automatic penalties will only worsen the issue.
  3. Take mental health seriously. It’s much harder to remain abreast of employees’ mental health in a remote environment. Managers have less face time with their teams, and tone doesn’t convey over text. Companies can take several steps to show they care about their employees’ mental health while respecting their privacy. For example, managers can send anonymous surveys to gauge employee wellbeing. Using a simple rating system of 1-10 can provide easy-to-track data to identify trends. Companies can also hold meetings to teach employees how to cope with stress, handle problems at home, and manage work challenges.
  4. Reevaluate company culture. If an organization consistently emphasizes output over the individual, it’s creating an environment ripe for burnout. Some elements of company culture are carved in stone, but many are easy to change. Some examples include setting longer deadlines, improving or changing communication styles, or reducing workloads by hiring more staff.

Employee burnout goes beyond their workload. Emotional and mental fatigue take their toll as well. Failing to address stress within the workplace will lead to increased turnover, reduced productivity, and rampant absenteeism. To learn more about reducing absenteeism in the workplace, contact the experts at Actec.

How Flexible Schedules Can Benefit Your Business

Posted on

June 17th, 2020


Absenteeism in the workplace is a challenge all businesses need to be ready to take head-on. Letting attendance problems slide can lead to a productivity crisis as well as spread like an infection to other employees. However, preventing absenteeism is a lot simpler than many companies realize. By implementing flexible schedules, employers can see an uptick in punctuality, productivity, and more.

Reducing Tardiness, Early Departures, and Absenteeism

Employees that work traditional nine to five jobs suffer through rush hour traffic on the front and backend of their workday. This can cause them to arrive late or duck out early to avoid it. Spending hours of their day in traffic can also lead to resentment and burnout. By allowing employees to shift their schedules to an earlier or later time, they can avoid rush hour and find a better work-life balance. Happier employees are more punctual and less likely to call out of work as well.

More Productive Employees

Allowing employees to set their own schedules gives them agency and improves engagement. Often, they get more work done than usual because they’re in a better mood and not struggling with work weariness. If your business doesn’t have to adhere to strict, traditional work hours, you can reap the benefits of improved productivity such as better workplace morale and more profits.

Recruit Top Candidates

Having a flexible schedule is a much sought after benefit and can attract top tier job candidates. Having the ability to set their own schedule can entice applicants away from the competition as well. In addition, employers don’t typically have to worry about absenteeism from high-quality applicants. This saves time and money by reducing employee turnover rates.

Making the change to flexible scheduling may seem radical to many businesses, especially if they’ve always operated during traditional work hours. However, it doesn’t have to be the scheduling nightmare it seems like with the proper tools. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about our absence management solutions.

How to Boost Employee Morale During Winter Months

Posted on

December 9th, 2019


Shorter days with less sunlight can take their toll on employees. Freezing temperatures and winter weather can also make employees less than thrilled to get out of bed and make the frigid trek to the office. With low spirits, employers may start to notice an uptick in employees calling out of work. While legitimate causes for an absence here or there can crop up, employers should always be on the lookout for signs of absenteeism.

Boosting morale with the following tips can help keep the winter blues and absenteeism at bay:

  1. Make the office warm and inviting. Maniacal control of the thermostat may contribute to employee discomfort. No one wants to go to an office that is freezing when the weather is already cold. Small touches like offering hot beverage options such as cocoa or cider can make the office a more pleasant place to be for employees.
  2. Put employee health first. Shorter days mean less sunlight, which can trigger depressive effects in some individuals. Keeping breakroom baskets filled with vitamin-C heavy fruits and Vitamin D supplements can help keep this problem at bay.
  3. Offer work-from-home-Fridays. With wintry weather and chilly winds, giving employees some flexibility during the winter can go a long way toward improving their mood. While not every job is suitable for telecommuting, employers could also consider shutting down the office for a week or two during the holidays to allow employees to maximize their family time without using their leave.
  4. Hold office parties during work hours. Employees don’t typically enjoy mandatory fun if it encroaches on their free time. However, hosting parties with free food and beverages during typical work hours is a big morale boost. When employees relax and socialize, it can reinvigorate their drive.
  5. Host office workouts. Cold weather has a way of sapping motivation, causing many people to slack off in the exercise department. Working out together can strengthen employee bonds and improve the overall mood in the office. In addition to releasing endorphins, exercise helps boost the immune system. This can help keep employees healthy during the cold and flu season.

Finding ways to keep employees happy and productive during the gloomy winter months can help prevent absenteeism. If your employees are calling out more often than usual, you may have an attendance problem. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our absence reporting program can help your business.

How to Spot 4 Common Warning Signs of Absenteeism

Posted on

August 5th, 2019


Absenteeism costs employers a significant amount of time and money; it also has a negative effect of productivity and overall office morale so it’s best to identify it and address it before it becomes a costly problem. Thankfully, many employees who abuse their paid leave show predictable patterns. This allows employers to pinpoint the behavior to take action.

Predictors that Point to Potential Absenteeism

The following are key indicators of employees who are likely to call out sick when they’re not or otherwise misuse their leave:

  1. Previous absence record. If a structure isn’t already in place, consider implementing an absence management system to keep track of all absences. It’s easy to forget who called out on what days and how many times when a business begins to grow. Having documentation can provide easy to digest data and identify absenteeism.
  2. Job characteristics. Employees who work jobs with repetitive tasks are more prone to absenteeism. Encourage managers to rotate employees through these tasks to maintain morale and interest in the work. Employees who feel engaged are much less prone to absenteeism.
  3. Work environment. No one wants to work in a stressful environment. Make sure managers know positive methods of communication. Making sure to spread load work so no one is overwhelmed can help keep stress levels at bay as well.
  4. Shift work. It’s not always possible to avoid night shifts or shift work. However, those employees are more prone to burnout and absenteeism. Building flexibility into leave policies for these individuals can help mitigate this issue.

Absenteeism is rarely a problem without a root cause. Identifying what the problem is early on can help employers address the issue and make changes if necessary to accommodate employees. For example, an employee who always arrives late may have a difficult childcare situation. Allowing that employee to shift his or her hours to the right can solve the issue.

Regardless, having a reliable absence management system in place is a must to identify questionable attendance. This allows employers to deal with attendance issues before they become a recurring problem. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more.

How to Help Employees Manage Back to School Stress

Posted on

August 20th, 2018


education-908512_1920Summertime is a break for working parents from parent-teacher conferences, after-school activities, and shopping for school clothes and supplies. Now that summer is winding down, employees with children may be showing signs of stress as they try to reengage for the upcoming school season. While it’s not an employer’s job to manage their employees’ personal lives, a good work-life balance is crucial to keeping the workforce happy and productive. The following are several ways employers can help employees ease back into the school season:

  1. Be cognizant of employee needs. Small to mid-size companies have an easier time of it, but all companies, regardless of size, should be aware of their employees’ needs. Learning who has children can help managers and company leadership work with employees to prepare for the back to school season. Team meetings represent a great opportunity to remind staff that it’s time to prepare for the new school year and discuss any challenges this may present. For example, some employees may need more time to complete a project than usual to allow them to make sure their child is ready for the upcoming school season.
  2. Remind staff of their leave. It’s easy for employees to think of paid leave as for vacations or illnesses only. However, many company policies include personal leave or utilize an overall paid time off (PTO) bank that employees can use for any purpose. Some states even provide 24-hours of unpaid leave for qualified employees to address their children’s educational and medical needs. Employers and managers should remind staff members that a positive work-life balance is important and to use their leave if they need to.
  3. Be flexible. Employees often have to arrange childcare for children before and after school. Sometimes these arrangements fall through and the employee must scramble to find proper care. Other times, the cost of childcare is too expensive for employees to manage morning and evening care. One way to help alleviate this issue is to allow for flexible start times. For example, if an employee usually works 7:30-3:30, consider allowing them to work 9-5 instead or vice versa. This can allow them to take their kids to school or pick them up from school depending on which situation works better for them. This can help them solve the problem of short-notice childcare and the related expenses. Another option is to allow employees to work from home for a certain number of hours for the first couple of weeks of school while they establish their new routine.

Employees who struggle with stress at home and at work are more prone to unexpected absence. Employees who feel like their employers care about work-life balances have better attendance records, are more loyal, and have better productivity. Helping employees cope with stressful periods in their life can help them manage their responsibilities at home while keeping up with their work. To learn more about reducing employee absences, contact the experts at Actec.