Are your employees growing tired of forced fun? In the early days of the pandemic, many companies tried to keep remote employees engaged through video happy hours, virtual coffee clubs, online trivia contests and other activities.
As the months have worn on, many remote employees are less interested in spending yet another hour interacting with their colleagues online, especially if they don’t find the activity particularly productive or meaningful. Even if the activity is presented as optional, some employees feel pressured to attend, especially if their managers are the ones organizing the event. (For thoughts on how managers can more effectively drive remote engagement, try this post.)
Here are some ideas for engaging remote employees who may have burned out on the purely social engagement activities:
Enlist more senior employees to mentor younger ones who are missing the day-to-day learning they would ordinarily gain from watching their colleagues in action in the office. The mentor and mentee could be in different departments or even different countries because connecting remotely removes that geographic barrier.
You might consider programs that create pairs or teams of employees to help keep each other accountable for weight loss or smoking cessation efforts, or an online competition for daily steps goals. Connecting around wellness is also a great way to level the playing field between management employees and the rank and file, offering remote employees a human connection with leaders that isn’t based on the organizational hierarchy.
Inclusion and diversity forums
If you already have employee resource groups (ERGs) or other affinity-based organizations in your company, invite them to host webinars for discussions on key issues. This could include both those who identify with that group and those who consider themselves its allies. There’s a lot of momentum around this issue now, so it’s a timely way to help create social bonds between remote employees.
Volunteerism and charitable activities
Although you may not be planning in-person volunteer activities during the pandemic, your remote employees can still come together to help others. You might create groups to organize no-contact food drives, shop online for holiday gifts for at-risk kids or have video chats with residents at an assisted living facility. Give your employees opportunities to share kindness in their communities while connecting with each other.
Although the pandemic will eventually be behind us, it seems that working from home will still be the norm for many employees. What we’re learning now about engaging and connecting our people remotely will continue to serve us, even after bumping into each other in the break room becomes a possibility again.