by | Jul 16, 2020

If corporate employees continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, one of the biggest challenges for companies will be maintaining employee engagement. And managers’ ability to engage remotely will be an important driver of that.

We’ve all heard the adage that people don’t quit companies, they quit a bad boss. To improve your employees’ experience with their managers, we recommend improving not only your managers’ leadership abilities but also their own experiences. Are your managers engaged? Are they excited about the work they’re doing? Do they feel connected to the company vision and the role they play in achieving that vision? For more on creating better employee experiences for your managers, you might like this Best Practices one-pager.

What do remote managers need to succeed?

During extended remote work, like so many companies are now experiencing, what your managers need may be different from what they needed when they were in the office. For those who thrive on interaction with their teams and with other leaders, working remotely can feel isolating. Management by walking around (sometimes known by the acronym MBWA) has to be reinvented when people are no longer in the same physical environment.

Many companies and their managers are relying on more frequent check-ins by video conference, both one-on-ones and team meetings. Has your company equipped your people with the technology to have face-to-face interactions online? Do your managers and their teams have the internet connectivity at home to keep Zoom or Team meetings from freezing up?

Managers can’t connect without connectivity

In Tribe’s recent survey with corporate employees around the country who are working at home due to the pandemic, we asked participants what their company could do to help them thrive while working from home — not just now but if they continued remotely for the long term. Almost half, at 48%, of the respondents said they’d like their company to pay for better internet connection/speed/bandwidth.

Help managers provide a human touch — from afar

Ginger Hardage, who built a particularly enviable culture at Southwest Airlines, recently published a round-up of remote engagement examples gleaned from a range of companies. Some of them are decidedly low-tech, like Teach for America sending a snack box to employees’ homes a few days after they began remote work. They also hosted a virtual mixology class for staff, with bar supplies delivered to their homes ahead of time. Who’s not going to love their leadership sending snacks and cocktails?

Be open to reinventing how managers engage employees

This sudden immersion into remote work has been exciting in many ways, as we all learn how to connect without being in the same office, how to collaborate without being in the same room and how to be true to the culture in the ways this new way of working requires.

Some managers will be better at this than others. There’s an opportunity to collect best practices from those who have come up with successful ways to engage with their teams without the benefit of physical proximity — whether those best practices involve technology platforms or adapted work processes or new traditions like Friday afternoon virtual cocktails or weekly Zoom brown bag lunch gatherings.

I keep thinking that this extended remote experience can provide great learning for those companies wanting to unite a global workforce. What works for employees scattered across local suburbs and cities may well work for those spread across continents. Whatever creativity and connection your culture has demonstrated over the past several months will not be wasted when the pandemic is behind us and we’re back to work in whatever our new normal will be.

Interested in how your managers can better support employee engagement? Tribe can help.

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