Learn about 5 practical suggestions to better motivate your remote teams and boost employee engagement in this article.
Remote work hasn’t just changed how we work but has also fundamentally redefined employee engagement. While it was in the periphery earlier, the pandemic has institutionalized it, with more and more companies opting for a fully remote or hybrid model even after normalcy returns to our lives. This means employee engagement OKR (Objectives-Key Result) too will have to accommodate the implications of this change.
OKRs for employee management when the workforce is remotely placed is one of the biggest challenges facing HR teams today. There’s no time for long-term research or academic debates for employee engagement OKRs as the new models are already in place. But before we get to how HR leaders have adapted OKRs to address the demands of remote work, we need to analyze the impacts of this new model.
Pros and cons of remote teams
- Increased productivity: Companies have found that productivity increases during remote work. A Stanford study found a demonstrable boost to productivity when employees worked from home.
- Fewer commutes: In knowledge-based sectors that rely on the internet for collaboration, there’s little need for the commute, and this has been a significant boon for employees.
- Freedom and flexibility: Employees can now decide their time and space of work and don’t have to worry about repeated supervision.
- Cost savings: Firms don’t have to pay for office spaces or utilities. They also don’t have to spend on unnecessary in-person meetings.
- A better work-life balance: Employees can spend more time with their families and devote attention to side projects.
- Isolation: Instead of seeing themselves as well-connected members of a cohesive group, employees may now feel that they are isolated units. This will hurt employee engagement, a function of direct and in-person interactions.
- Decreased visibility: When individual contributions are virtually received, interactions will become functional and transactional. In other words, performance becomes talent-neutral in a remote world.
- Lack of boundaries: Work can effortlessly creep up until it takes over employees’ private spaces and lives.
So, while productivity has increased, employee engagement has decreased during remote work. This means that for employee engagement OKRs to be effective, organizations need to understand the challenges that remote work has thrown up.
The challenges of employee engagement in remote teams
While there are system-wide problems and opportunities, what are the specific challenges that HR leaders have to face in a remote workplace?
A sudden shift: The most crucial aspect of the transition to remote work was the pace of it. It happened suddenly, without any advanced warning. HR teams didn’t have the time to develop a viable action plan for the realities of remote work.
No past frameworks: Companies without previous experience with remote work didn’t have viable models to roll out. So, OKRs had to be readjusted on an ad hoc basis without reliable precedents.
Technological gaps: Not all organizations had or have the virtual infrastructure necessary to sustain employee engagement during remote work. The problem was compounded by the fact that technology providers were also limited by the constraints of remote work.
Tips and best practices for adopting OKRs to remote teams
To effectively implement employee engagement OKRs, leadership and HR teams can rely on the following tips and OKR best practices.
Be transparent: From goal-setting to quantifying key results, transparency should be the governing norm. All stakeholders should know their goals, key results, and the timeframe to achieve those.
Be flexible: Since employees don’t have the same access to necessary resources, management should allow flexibility when assigning goals and key results.
Be user-friendly: The IT systems and tools companies use for OKRs should be easy to use, manage, and minimal in their interface.
5 top ways to drive employee engagement
To ensure that your employees stay engaged, motivated, and productive, you can use these five techniques to boost employee engagement during remote work.
1. Use technology
Technology should not just be effectively but strategically used for employee engagement OKRs. Using the OKR software tool to streamline communication should be the top priority. Whether it’s Asana or Profit.co, employees should have the bandwidth to communicate within their teams and across functionalities to HR, for example. The objective should be to make employees feel like they’re part of a team and not disjointed units.
2. Get feedback
Getting feedback and input from employees shouldn’t be an annual or quarterly practice. During remote work, HR managers should proactively seek employees’ opinions about their OKRs. This will reveal how systems and processes can be fine-tuned to empower employees. Seeking feedback will make employees feel respected and further employee engagement. It will also reveal redundancies that may not be easily visible in a remote work structure.
3. Celebrate performances
Recognizing talent should be one of the top priorities in employee engagement OKRs. To increase employee visibility, management should consistently appreciate their performances. The key here is to be specific about individual contributions and not just limit them to teams.
4. Keep them in the loop
If there are any internal or external factors that might change OKRs, you should immediately and consistently communicate them to the employees. They will appreciate it even if there is uncertainty about systemic goals, and what they won’t appreciate is the reluctance to be upfront about it.
5. Focus on their overall well-being
Your employee engagement systems shouldn’t be designed to measure employees just professionally, and their work-life balance should also be your top priority. This means HR OKRs should also have the space to include employees’ passion projects, their health, and their time with their families.
While almost all organizations would have an employee management system in place that would have been designed for on-site and synchronous work. The changed reality of remote work calls for immediate and compelling actionable employee engagement OKRs and frameworks to sustain and increase employee engagement.