The number of people working remotely has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year, shifting the world of work nearly overnight. Many of your team members may be working remotely for the first time in their careers, and may be feeling distracted, isolated, or burned out.
At the same time, many of your managers may be entirely new to managing remote teams, while others may be accustomed to managing only one or two remote team members. They need your support, more than ever, to maintain employee happiness, engagement, and motivation.
Survey your team members
Get a pulse on how your team members are feeling through an employee survey. Ask questions like:
- On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend a job at [company] to a friend or family member? Why?
- Do you feel that you have clear goals, and know where you stand on progress toward those goals?
- Are you happy with the amount of recognition you receive from your manager?
- What can we do to improve your experience at [company]?
Look for trends, and opportunities to improve. This can help ensure you and your managers focus your efforts exactly where they’re needed. For example, if you learn that remote employees aren’t feeling recognized for their work, your managers and other company leaders can make time for recognition during team meetings. Doing so can lead to a direct boost in employee motivation. As you make improvements, try sending out shorter, 3-5 question surveys to gauge your progress and make necessary changes.
Watch your metrics
HR metrics can provide another angle to your people data to uncover strengths and opportunities for improvement. There are several metrics you can use to gauge employee motivation:
- Employee engagement rate: Engaged employees are willing to go above and beyond in their work, but disengaged employees will be less motivated to do so. Track employee engagement over time, and take action if it’s low or decreasing.
- Turnover rate: While some disengaged, unmotivated employees may stick around, those with the highest potential will seek out other opportunities. High turnover may then further impact morale and motivation across the team. If you see high turnover, dig into your exit survey data to understand what’s happening—and work with your managers to fix it.
- Promotion rates: Employee development and promotions show your team members that you believe in them, and can make a significant impact on motivation. Track promotion rates to ensure employees are being treated equitably, and being promoted when they should. Work closely with managers if you see any red flags.
Whenever possible, look at these metrics by manager or department, to understand which teams need the most support. You may also compare remote employees to co-located employees to see if there are notable differences.
Share best practices
There are countless factors that could influence employee motivation. For example:
- Feedback and recognition
- Connection to company mission
- Relationships with colleagues
- Career growth
- Work environment
- Depression and anxiety
- Health issues
When your metrics or survey data indicate potential issues in specific areas, share best practices with managers to help them do their part. For example, discuss how to use behavioral interviewing techniques to hire for shared values. Or let managers know about resources available that can help employees navigate personal issues.
Depending on your needs, there are many formats you can use to share management best practices:
- Training: Set up a group training session based on an area of focus for your management team.
- Lunch and learn: Ask managers to join you for a short group training session around an area of focus. You may want to provide lunch, or ask managers to bring a brown-bag lunch.
- Coaching: Work with managers one-on-one to discuss potential issues within their teams, and brainstorm ways to improve.
- Peer mentorship: Ask a manager who has high team motivation to share best practices with a manager who has low team motivation.
- Professional development: Recommend courses, professional conferences, or leadership coaching, as appropriate.
- Slack channel: Create a Slack channel for managers, where you share daily tips, or host daily discussions.
Enable teams with the right tools
Without everyone in a physical office, more infrastructure may be necessary to keep business running as usual. For example:
- Video conferencing may replace in-person meetings, and help remote team members feel like they’re still getting face-time with their managers and colleagues.
- Employee recognition software can encourage and enable managers and team members to send praise when it is deserved.
- People Operations Platforms can enable stronger employee onboarding programs for remote employees, ensuring they feel supported and connected from their first day.
- Project management software can enable asynchronous collaboration between colleagues, and allow managers to track progress.
Putting the right tools for your remote workforce into place can remove barriers for your team members and help them stay motivated.
Final thoughts on helping managers keep their remote teams motivated
The specific game plan for maintaining or improving motivation will vary by team and company. Some may need to work on better goal setting, communication, or recognition. Others may need to give team members the space and resources to better manage their personal lives.
Use your team member’s feedback and HR data to understand where your team needs to focus, and work with your managers to make improvements.