Three Employee Engagement Strategies for Remote New Hires
March 2022 — By T.J. Duane

Remote work is here to stay, making effective remote employee engagement strategies non-negotiable for organizations. Experts predict that 40.7 million workers in the United States will be fully remote in the next five years. Businesses that want to competitively attract and retain top talent in this new environment have no choice but to focus on employee engagement.

The truth about employee engagement is that it’s the backbone of successful businesses. Effective employee engagement strategies can increase:

  • Business profitability
  • Individual productivity
  • Employee retention
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Sales
  • Corporate reputation

And employee engagement metrics show an engaged employee is 21% more profitable than a disengaged one! But creating engagement is easier said than done.

Remote Employee Engagement Challenges

A growing number of workers prefer remote jobs. In fact, nearly half of all workers said they’d take a pay cut if they could work virtually.

And employees aren’t the only ones who benefit. Companies see better productivity, retention, and profitability when their employees work remotely. But many businesses experience challenges when trying to maintain a remote workforce.

Onboarding Remote Workers Is Tricky

You don’t need an employee engagement consultant to tell you that first impressions matter! But onboarding virtual workers presents a unique set of challenges – and can be difficult whether your team is remote or in-person.

Everyone has questions when they start a new job. In-person workers can turn to the person next to them to find the answers. But remote workers might not know who to ask when questions arise, leading them to feel even more disconnected from their new organization.

Building Working Relationships Remotely

The truth about employee engagement? It’s all about relationships. That’s because businesses are simply groups of people with a common purpose. Like with all groups, the strength of the group’s relationships is the key to success.

It’s no surprise that relationships are harder to establish and maintain virtually. The water cooler was once an employee engagement icon where everyone could gather to gossip and share news. What corporate culture exists when team meetings are a blend of black tiles and distracting beach backgrounds, and the break room is the empty kitchen five steps from their desk?

It’s Hard to Get Remote Workers Together

One of the benefits of a remote workforce is that you can pick the best person for the job – regardless of where they’re located. Your pool of job seekers isn’t confined by geography. But this can create some challenges, too.

It’s harder to organize meaningful employee experiences. A local team could once get together easily for fun team-building activities, like team lunches or full-scale retreats.

Unfortunately, the logistics get more complicated with remote employees. And even with those employees that are local, many are so used to the remote concept, they’re not interested in attending in-person gatherings that take them away from their families or routine.

Top Remote Employee Engagement Strategies

Employee engagement managers can no longer rely on those few tried-and-true methods like happy hours or volunteering at a local nonprofit. Instead, they need to think about innovative employee engagement strategies to connect a currently disengaged virtual workplace.

If you’re wondering how to connect with remote employees, you’re not alone. Employers, managers, and human resources leaders around the world are grappling with this topic.

Well, we have some good news for you. There’s no need to bring on an employee engagement consultant! The following strategies will help you build a connected culture that’s excited to work, collaborate with colleagues, and further your organization’s mission.

1. Create Strong Onboarding Experiences

There’s no getting around it: First impressions matter. How new employees feel in their first days and weeks sets the tone for their time with you. Creating an excellent onboarding experience will make your new hires feel welcome – and start your relationship off on the right foot.

Though remote onboarding looks different depending on your industry and the employee’s position, a few things transcend industry, title, and location.

When planning your remote onboarding process, consider:

  • Does my new hire know who to ask when they have questions?
  • Do they have access to our standard software?
  • What additional tools will this employee need to be successful?
  • How can we let this new hire know they’re welcome?
  • Do they know how excited we are to have them here?
  • How will the employee know they’re fully onboarded?

Effective remote employee onboarding should include a digital welcome experience that drives deeper connections to other new hires or existing team members.

2. Prioritize Open Communication

Relationships drive employee engagement, and open communication is key to healthy, collaborative relationships.

Here are just a few ideas to encourage meaningful conversations amongst remote workers:

  • Introduce remote teams through a digital team book that goes beyond the basic HR data to provide a more comprehensive picture of the whole person, including meaningful personal updates and interests that drive team connections.
  • Hold a daily team check-in meeting.
  • Ensure managers greet team members at the beginning of each day, even if it’s through chat.
  • Use a business tool with a chat feature for impromptu conversations.
  • Encourage – but don’t require – cameras during video meetings.
  • Create fun backgrounds for virtual meetings and encourage employees to create their own.

As long as team members have a productive forum to talk about work, get creative with your other tools. And remember to offer at least one channel where they can share important, non-work information that helps them build deeper connections with their teammates.

Leaders should also practice what they preach – communicating openly and practicing transparency. The more open your company’s leadership, the more connected your employees feel.

3. Build a Digital Community and Virtual Team Bonding Experience

Team-building activities don’t have to be in-person to be successful. It’s not the location or time that builds relationships – it’s the act of getting to know one another that builds a team. When people get to know each other and feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work, they can connect on more personal levels.

Remote employee engagement is simple with tools like BrightCrowd. Each team member has an opportunity to share their story by answering a few questions about who they are and sharing anecdotes and photos of what’s most important to them. BrightCrowd encourages natural connections and authentic relationships amongst colleagues with similar interests, without forced intervention by your HR team.

Use BrightCrowd to Increase Remote Employee Engagement

You don’t need an employee engagement specialist to tell you that the future of successful organizations lies in keeping remote employees connected. That’s why we built a service that helps organizations connect remote colleagues through private digital welcome books.

Employee engagement managers and HR professionals have plenty of challenges ahead, but BrightCrowd makes remote employee engagement easy. Encourage new colleagues to get to know one another and create meaningful relationships the moment they join your company.

Organizations can launch their digital books in less than a day while garnering rich insights about their new remote employees for long-lasting engagement.

Through our demo, you’ll immediately see why some of the top organizations are implementing BrightCrowd books as part of the onboarding process for their remote new hires. Contact us today to start experiencing the benefits of a connected workforce at a fraction of the cost of other employee engagement strategies.

T.J. Duane