The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated shifts that were already happening in the workplace. What we know now is that in order to thrive, businesses must be both resilient and adaptable. Able to adapt to remote work and flexible, human-centric scheduling, to empower faster decision-making, and communicate strategically. Which means learning how to engage remote employees is just a single — but key — piece of the puzzle.
Because now that you’ve survived this major disruption, you know how quickly things can change. Which means you need a model for employee engagement that can be created, maintained, and measured if your employees are working from home, the office, or Mars.
We’ll show you how the right framework can transform your people strategy to create a connected, high-performing culture, no matter where people work.
The four challenges facing companies today
However you started 2020, you couldn’t have anticipated the challenges you’re facing now. The good news is, you’re not alone. No matter what challenges your company faces, we’ve seen it all — and we can help.
These are the primary challenges facing businesses of all sizes in the new abnormal:
- Connection and culture: How do we keep office culture alive when there’s no office? How do we maintain and strengthen our work relationships?
- Alignment and performance: How do I know my employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing?
- Up-leveling managers: Do our managers have what it takes to manage their remote teams to success?
- Retaining top talent: How do we win the war for talent in a pandemic?
Sound familiar? No worries. Our simple framework will get you back on track.
Learn more in our guide:
A Playbook for the 4 HR Challenges Facing Today’s Leaders
A framework for employee engagement in the new future of work
2020 has seen us shift into a new, holistic phase of work. Work-life balance is no longer on the table. Now, we live at work while working from home. Mental health is part of the workplace conversation; our pets and children wander through the backgrounds of our meetings. Our lives are more interconnected than ever before. And by necessity, we’ve learned that we thrive when all of those parts are working together.
This idea — working better, together — drives the simple framework to create employee engagement anywhere, and at any time.
In the new age of work, this 5-part engagement flywheel framework is the key to creating engaged employees, no matter where they — or you — are working.
The five components — goals & OKRs, feedback, conversations, recognition, and incentives — support each other. We can no longer pretend that these elements are even half as effective in isolation. Here’s how the components work together to create an engaged, thriving workforce.
Goals & Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
How goals & OKRs help: Need to create alignment up, down, and across your company? Goals orient your workers and keep them on track. So get your workforce on the same page by syncing your high-level objectives. Then, have departments, teams, and individuals create and own goals that directly contribute to those greater company goals, so everyone is working to achieve the same larger vision.
How goals & OKRs drive the framework: Given the proper support, goals are a powerful tool for driving productivity and growth. But goals must be aligned with company objectives, and they must be organically woven into every aspect of an employee’s day-to-day. Goals in isolation aren’t goals — they’re to-do list items.
When you integrate goals into your larger workflow, the conversation changes. Resist the urge to cling to manual, outdated legacy systems that treat goals in isolation. Instead, set, track, and measure goals in an integrated space along with performance assessments, recognition, check-ins, and feedback. Make OKRs and goals part of your 1-on-1 conversations. Incentivize employees to achieve them, and recognize employees when they do. Track progress and identify employees who are falling behind. These discrete, specific actions turn the goals your employees set into powerful tools for transformation, with the support they need to achieve them.
Learn how it all comes together:
What is an Employee Experience Platform?
How feedback helps: Feedback is key not only for the continued growth of your employees. Feedback also drives growth for managers and leaders, and gives you transparency into the state of engagement at your company. (Learn more about the transformative power of feedback in our article, Employee Feedback 101.)
How feedback drives the framework: If goals set you up for success, feedback keeps you growing toward it. Think beyond top-down feedback. Employee feedback includes coaching and mentoring, 360 feedback, peer-to-peer feedback, and more. Feedback provides the necessary fodder for professional growth for employees of all levels. So learn to give feedback fearlessly in 1-on-1 conversations and check-ins. Integrate feedback into goal-setting and tracking conversations. You’ll get the most mileage out of a system that keeps feedback in the same place that tracks your goals, allowing for easy reference during performance check-ins.
How conversations help: Regular check-ins and sync-ups are central to employee growth, and necessary for driving alignment and connection across your organization. Meet frequently to discuss progress, accomplishments, feedback, and career objectives and growth opportunities. (Bonus: Learn how to improve your 1-on-1 meetings.)
How conversations drive the framework: Without conversations, the framework falls apart. These regular 1-on-1 meetings and quarterly performance reviews are how managers and leaders gain visibility into where you are as a company, as well as what challenges and blockers they can help employees overcome. If goals are the strategy, conversations are where the tactics play out.
Just like feedback, conversations are reciprocal. This is where employees get the vital chance to feel their voices matter, and provide insights into their needs and engagement. This is especially helpful when learning how to engage remote employees. In dispersed workforces, it’s easy to feel disconnected, prioritize real-time, face-to-face conversations. This allows your team to execute goals and receive feedback as it’s meant, in real time, when it counts.
How recognition helps: Meet your secret weapon for employee engagement. It’s great for how to engage remote employees, or employees anywhere. Top-down and peer-to-peer social recognition, bonuses, and awards strengthen company culture, create alignment, and help employees feel appreciated. (Bonus: Learn about the science of recognition and rewards.)
How recognition drives the framework: Need to drive culture and boost productivity? Enter recognition. Including awards and rewards, recognition goes far beyond service anniversaries and safety awards. Celebrate your employees’ efforts large and small. Recognition makes your employees feel seen and appreciated. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, 81% of employees say they feel motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation.
Connect recognition to goals by celebrating goals met — but also recognize good effort, ambition, and smart work. Encourage a feedback culture by giving recognition for honest feedback. And drive your culture by recognizing employees for exemplifying your core values. It’s all part of the same puzzle. (Still hungry? Learn more about the benefits of recognition and rewards.)
How behavior incentives help: It’s an easy tip for how to engage remote employees — or employees anywhere. Create custom bonuses to encourage employees to participate in activities that are good for them and the business. This can include exhibiting your company values, attending trainings, giving presentations, getting annual medical check-ups, and more. This light gamification reinforces your company culture and also boosts employee engagement.
How behavior incentives drive the framework: Traditionally, incentives cover a wide range of perks, benefits, and rewards. But in the framework, behavioral incentives are what take you the final mile. You get your employees aligned with goals, growing with feedback, connected with conversations, and appreciated with recognition. Incentives subtly but consistently reinforce each of these pieces, plus create a unified sense of culture on the micro and macro scale.
Line up your incentives with your company’s core values. Make them flexible, and reflect the times — you can keep employees safer by incentivizing doctor’s visits and clean spaces, keep them connected by incentivizing digital event participation, and more. In the Kazoo platform, we even have an incentive for completing goals — bringing the whole framework full circle.
The framework in action
No matter how good the proposed theoretical framework, the final mile — implementation of new HR programs and a new way of thinking about your organization — can feel daunting. So let’s take the framework from theory to reality.
Start by pulling out your calendar and mapping out each process over the course of the next quarter. (Our example below indicates what a sample Q3 might look like.)
Timing will vary according to your organization’s culture and needs. But at the very least, plug in Goals & OKRs at the beginning of the quarter, Conversations at least once a week, and Recognition and Incentives frequently. (You may schedule Feedback as well. But remember that feedback is most effective when it’s timely — so leave yourself the flexibility to deliver it on the fly.)
Need more ideas for launching the framework in your organization? Get the ball rolling with actionable tips in our article, 5 Steps to Change Your Performance Management Process.
The new age of work and your bottom line: How our framework helps
Even before the pandemic, we knew employee engagement had a tremendous effect on business. Now, it’s undeniable. Increasing employee engagement results in:
- 1-3% greater productivity per employee
- 7-14% improvement in customer experience metrics
- 10-20% improvement in employee retention
These improvements directly impact business health and can drive as much as a 20% increase in revenues and profits.
But forget the hypothetical. Learn how using our framework to increase engagement can impact your company’s actual productivity, customer metrics, employee retention, and absenteeism with our Employee Experience Economic Impact Calculator. Then, let’s chat.
What can your investment do for you?
Kazoo’s Employee Experience Impact Calculator
Launching the engagement framework
The disruption of the pandemic has revealed core truths about the way we work. It’s also ushered in a new age of virtual workforces that thrive on resilience. We are at the end of the beginning now. It’s time to stop adapting — to think beyond simply “how to engage remote employees” — and start operating.
If you like what you’ve heard above, then honestly, we’re probably a good fit for you. In the post-COVID-19 work era, companies are looking for simple solutions that embrace the whole employee. That’s why we at Kazoo built our all-in-one Employee Experience Platform. With it, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses tap into the power of employee engagement through continuous performance management, recognition & rewards, incentives, and employee engagement surveys.
Let’s set up a strategy call and talk about your next steps. Or —