Laura Iñiguez, Content Manager at Hirebook
Laura is a content and social media strategist with deep experience in Employee Engagement, People Management, and Culture. She works with Hirebook to bring their innovative best practices to life through content, videos, and webinars seen by thousands around the globe.
Pub: December 2 2020
. Upd: October 22 2021
It’s no secret that engaged employees are high performers, so why wouldn’t you do something to engage your virtual team? They’re not going to generate engagement on their own, especially when remote workers usually feel a little left out, so they just do their job as best they can and have little to no interactions with other colleagues.
Focusing on employee morale will always be a good idea and will always provide vast benefits, and even though it is somewhat different for virtual teams, now’s the time to learn how to increase morale with them since remote working is growing so fast, now that employers are realizing the positive perks of a WFH workforce regarding expenses, productivity, talent attraction and employee satisfaction and wellbeing. (If you want to know more about the benefits of telecommuting, take a look at our article “Discover the Benefits of Telecommuting: A Compilation of Remote Work Surveys”.)
Why is Remote Team Morale Important?
Unfortunately, not every manager gets a handbook on how to better manage their remote teams and it’s especially tricky to increase morale when handling both an on-site team and a virtual one. Obviously it is way easier to be aware of when morale is low with your on-site team, but not so easy with your telecommuters. You already get benefits from your remote workers since they usually are very driven and prone to resolve issues by themselves, but if you’d focus a little effort on making them feel like they truly are part of the team you’d get a lot more benefits and an even higher performance from them.
Communication on Every Level
It seems that a lot of situations both personal and professional just need a little communication, but, honestly, communication is the foundation of every healthy relationship, regardless of the type.
Communicating with your virtual team seems like an obvious thing to do, you obviously have to ping, email or call them to discuss work matters, right? Well, yeah, but “communication” goes beyond a couple of messages. Your employees are not just providing a service for your company, they’re supposed to help you accomplish company goals and collaborate on taking your organization to the next level. If you want them to feel committed to doing so, they must feel like they’re cared for, which is particularly hard with remote employees since they usually battle with isolation.
It is very important to “be present”, even when you can’t physically be, but set aside a time to talk to your remote workers and not just discuss work matters. Schedule One-on-One meetings with your virtual employees, or take advantage of our Check-Ins feature, where you can customize questions to ask your employees, you could ask the regular questions regarding the job and add some others to see how they’re doing and if there’s something you can do to help.
Make your remote workers feel they’re actually part of the team and that their contributions matter, which takes us to our next point:
Recognition and Feedback
A survey by Gallup pointed out that “Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.” As a manager, keeping up employee morale is part of the deal, and recognizing your employees’ hard work won’t take up much of your time.
So, focus on the good things! When someone is doing a great job, praise them and share their accomplishments on your Slack Channels or by email with the rest of the team.
When you recognize your team’s efforts, they feel valued, and it creates a positive ripple effect among other colleagues and even influences customer satisfaction.
Be careful though, don’t just praise for the sake of praising or it may come off a little phoney. Be genuine when congratulating someone and also, be honest with your employees if you want to share some feedback or constructive criticism. Not everyone performs at their best all the time and, as humans, we make a lot of mistakes. Take the time to provide elaborated feedback to your employees and find out if there’s something they’re lacking, you may be able to help more than you thought and get better results.
Respect Office Hours
Just because you have people working at home doesn’t mean they’re on-call for whenever you need them. This is a problem a lot of telecommuters experience, the urge of being available at all times because they can work from any location and they end up feeling guilty if they don’t respond to a message immediately or don’t provide something you asked for when you asked for it. This can be even worse with employees working in different time zones.
Just like you and the rest of your on-site team, remote workers need work-life balance, and it’s important you let them know that you don’t expect them to answer when being off the clock. You could even set some kind of code word for when there’s an emergency that needs to be addressed right away. But if there’s no emergency, try not to disturb your employees outside of office hours.
Think About Development
A huge morale builder is knowing that your employer worries about your career development. Telecommuters often think that they don’t have the same opportunities as on-site workers, basically because they miss so much of what happens within the company just because they’re not physically there.
There are many ways to support your employees’ development; like organizing a conference call with someone successful, instead of having a speaker in your office and having your remote team missing their conference. Support your team providing them with online courses and mentorship programs, but most importantly, keeping them on the loop of what’s happening within the company and letting them know when another position that fits their skills opens up.
Organize Team Building Activities
Team building is not what it used to be but it’s still incredibly important, especially with virtual teams since team morale is usually higher with on-site colleagues just because they bond easier.
Obviously there’s nothing like physical meetups to bond and foster employee morale, but we know sometimes it’s extremely difficult to organize an event for everyone to meet if you have people working from different parts of the world. So, online morale builders are your best option to increase employee morale.
Team building activities could include games like “2 truths and a lie”, “Pictionary” or “Charades”, if your team is still not very familiar with each other, chances are they’re not going to enjoy that much to play because they don’t feel confident enough with the rest of the team, so maybe start with shared coffee breaks and instill asking questions about your team members to know more about their interests and backgrounds. Once they get to know each other, organizing virtual games will be easy and something they look forward to. Spending fun times with your employees is a great way to boost morale and it increases engagement rapidly.
As you can see, morale builder techniques for virtual teams are not that different from regular morale booster techniques, sometimes you just need to think a little outside the box, but it definitely pays off. Remote and hybrid offices are on the rise, so we better be prepared to successfully manage our teams whether they’re working on site or remotely, and have them working altogether.
Photo credit - freepik