If you were to ask people outside the HR fraternity to explain what employee engagement is, there are going to be a lot of confusing answers. Most people don't know what employee engagement means. They might have overheard the term during meetings or in the office and have a vague idea, but never a clear definition.
But the real question is whether all the HR personnel understand the meaning behind employee engagement.
The question posed here determines the importance given to employee engagement in a company. This can only be spearheaded by the HR department and the leaders in the company. When asked about employee engagement, HRs or leaders would most likely give varied answers. Some will say 'employee happiness' while others will claim it to be 'employee wellness' or even 'enhanced employee experience.'
But what is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is a broad term with multiple nuances. It includes all the aforementioned in some sense. Employee engagement is the overall experience of an employee that pushes them to engage with their company. But we should also remember that employee engagement is often confused with employee satisfaction even though they are not the same. Not all satisfied employees will be engaged, and not all engaged employees will be satisfied.
Employee engagement indicates the extent to which employees feel valued and how invested they are in the company’s goals, mission, and values. It's the HR or the leader's job to check how engaged employees are in a company. It's a crucial step to improve a company and its culture—it helps companies understand the things that are working well and the ones that are not.
How do you engage remote employees?
It is somewhat easier for HRs and leaders to understand and study the needs of employees when everyone in a company works under the same roof. Daily meetings, lunch breaks, team activities, etc. are instances when the HR team or management of the company tries to measure employee engagement. But this becomes extremely difficult when all the team members are working remotely.
When employees are working remotely, everyone works in a different microenvironment. The only time team members interact with each other is when they need to discuss solutions or strategies, and there is little or no non-work communication. This makes it challenging for employees to work on their interpersonal skills—the bonds they had formed can become weaker due to limited interaction. This leads to distancing from company values and goals, which in the long run, deteriorates the employee experience as well as the company's success.
Recently, most companies in the world were forced to switch to working remotely because of the ongoing pandemic. According to Statista's report, there has been a whopping rise in remote working since the pandemic started. In the U.S. alone, before the pandemic, only 17% of the total workforce worked remotely, increasing to more than 44% now.
This sudden shift to remote working left many companies puzzled and unprepared to handle the situation. Apart from making sure that the company survived, leaders also had to make sure that all employees were safe and had the right systems to work from home properly. The physical and social infrastructure of traditional offices changed overnight. This sudden change led to many changes in the companies cultures and values.
It has become difficult for managers to manage twenty member teams while also ensuring they were all comfortable and well. First-time remote managers and leaders found it extra hard to understand their team members only through one or two calls a day instead of the physical interactions in the office. Measuring employee engagement levels and ensuring employee wellness became extremely difficult during this period of transition.
While it is not easy for HRs and leaders, especially mid-level managers, to gauge the microenvironment of each team member, they cannot and should not ignore it. A good leader is always eager to understand her/his employees and their backgrounds to gain a better perspective of their potential. Similarly, in the case of remote employees too, managers and leaders must use tools and plan strategies to measure employee engagement of their remote teams.
Employee engagement surveys for remote teams
One of the most important employee engagement tools that HRs and leaders employ is employee engagement surveys. Such surveys help companies understand various aspects of an employee’s experience in the company. It helps measure employee engagement through different drivers. Employee engagement surveys are especially useful for remote teams because employees get the chance to voice their opinions and concerns to the management directly since they cannot observe the team's functioning.
CultureMonkey, an employee engagement platform, understands how important it is for companies to listen to their employees and help them grow. CultureMonkey allows HRs and the management to choose and select from more than fifty surveys from a library of survey templates. There's even an option to customize surveys since every team is unique. And the best part about CultureMonkey employee engagement surveys is that these are anonymous—employees can share their opinions without fearing any consequences. This will helps companies get the real picture rather than inauthentic feedback that leaders get and miss out on any knowledge of the actual situation.
CultureMonkey's employee engagement surveys revolve around fifteen key drivers— autonomy, work environment, leadership, management, work-life balance, involvement, communication, rewards, recognition, growth and development, purpose alignment, innovation, wellness, meaningful work and social connection. These key drivers reflect each sphere of an employee’s life in a company. CultureMonkey takes certain factors into account to give the complete picture through its employee engagement surveys. Some of these factors include teams, genders, locations, employee types, reporting managers, along with other relevant drivers.
The primary thing that HRs and leaders must remember while curating employee engagement surveys for remote teams is that the objective of the surveys is to create a resilient company culture. The management must make sure that all remote members feel safe while voicing their opinions. They must also ensure that the right line of communication is established so that no one is denied help.
While curating questions, the HRs and leaders should also keep in mind that all the questions address the relevant drivers linked to remote work such as - Communication and teamwork, Remote essentials, Work-life balance and, Rewards and recognition.
Here are four key pillars and twelve questions, which will offer HR leaders the right indication of employee engagement among their remote teams:
Communication and teamwork:
- How often do you communicate with your team members?
- Do you have enough autonomy to perform your jobs effectively?
- How often do you communicate with your co-workers from other teams?
Remote work essentials:
- Do you have a comfortable space to work from home with good internet connectivity?
- Are you given all the necessary training/tools/equipment to work remotely?
- Do you have seamless access to your leader for any assistance while working remotely?
- How often are you able to get up and stretch or walk during a typical day?
- On average, how many hours per day are you staring at a screen? (Computer, phone, or television.)
- Do you end up working beyond your working hours?
Rewards and recognition:
- Do you have the freedom to voice a contrary opinion without fear of negative consequences?
- Are your ideas and opinions acknowledged in the team?
- Do you feel recognized for your efforts?
These questions will help improve the remote working experience of employees who are not used to it. These questions pertain to different facets of an employee’s life. Weekly surveys can be conducted by HRs to have an updated understanding of the employees in the company.
Leaders and HRs must listen to what employees need and offer actionable solutions for the growth of the employees as well as the company. CultureMonkey ensures that each survey follows with comprehensive reports that include eNPS, participation score, and engagement score by drivers.
After all, mere surveys without any reports are meaningless because these reports help HRs ensure all employee queries are attended to without losing track of performance and results.