How to Manage and Engage Remote Employees

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August 2nd, 2022

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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

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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.

How to Improve Employee Engagement During COVID-19

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May 4th, 2020

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A popular statistic that makes the rounds among business leaders is that 71% of executives say that employee engagement is critical to their organization’s success. The statistic comes from a report by the Harvard Business Review, but there are other salient facts from that report that often go unmentioned. While almost three-quarters of executives indicated employee engagement is vital to a successful company, 76% reported most of their employees aren’t highly engaged.

Workplace Myths Hindering Employee Engagement

There is a persistent myth that employees crave feedback. While it’s true employees appreciate recognition for their work, it’s rare they enjoy receiving constructive feedback or critiques. It also doesn’t do much to improve performance. The reason for this is that it puts the individual into a fight or flight brain space, which impedes learning. It’s more effective to show employees in greater and better details what they can do going forward rather than focusing on what they’re not doing or how they’re falling short of expectations.

Another common myth is that employees care about their organization’s culture. Many employers invest a lot of time into cultivating a company culture that reflects the business’ values. While this isn’t a bad thing to have in regards to branding for customers, clients, or investors, employees don’t care as much as employers might like to think they do. For many employees, they relate more to the individuals they interact with daily than they do to the organization as a whole. While a toxic culture can bring down the best of teams, a positive culture won’t necessarily drive engagement on its own.

What employees care about is whether their work is invigorating or fatiguing, whether they receive support from their peers or not, and whether or not they have opportunities to grow and innovate. Company culture can affect those things, but teams are more likely to have a greater effect. Employees interact with their team members on a regular basis and it’s those interactions that can make or break productivity and engagement.

Engaging a Remote Workforce

COVID-19 created new hurdles for employers trying to engage their workforce. Many employees are struggling with feelings of isolation and a new host of challenges while trying to manage their workload from home, often without their usual resources.

Communication is key to keeping morale up during this unpredictable time. Providing employees with regular updates about the status of the company, even if there is nothing new to report, can ease feelings of anxiety and fear of the unknown. Understanding the difficulties they’re facing and empathizing with them as well as letting them know what resources are available to them can help keep the workforce calm.

Improving morale can be as simple as being more vocal in recognition of hard work. Company leadership taking a more visible role can show employees how executives are coping with the changes to the workplace as well as their struggles. Encouraging virtual social interaction such as weekly coffee chats to start the workday can give employees something to look forward to and remain engaged with their work.

COVID-19 will continue to affect businesses, forcing many to work remotely without a clear end date in sight. Businesses that fail to take proactive steps to keep their employees engaged will notice slips in productivity, dips in morale, and problems with absenteeism as employees mentally check out of their job. To learn more about engagement and other factors that affect absenteeism, contact the experts at Actec.

How to Spot 4 Common Warning Signs of Absenteeism

Posted on

August 5th, 2019

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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.