How to Engage Remote Employees: 4 Tactics to Try in 2021

By: on January 20, 2021

If you’re wondering how to engage your employees and keep burnout at bay while working remotely, you’re not alone.

Many companies made the move to a virtual workspace in 2020, which presented challenges they weren’t prepared for—such as: how do you keep remote workers engaged when they’re dealing with the stress of external events on top of blurry boundaries between work and home life?

If you’re looking for guidance on how to engage remote employees, you’re right where you’re supposed to be. We’ve put together four straightforward strategies that will help you improve remote employee engagement at your business.


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4 remote employee engagement tactics to try

Engaging employees in a remote work environment doesn’t have to be all that different from engaging them in a traditional office setting. Let’s take a look at four tested employee engagement techniques applied in a remote work setting.

1. Create virtual recognition opportunities

Research from Gartner says that effectively recognizing employee performance can increase discretionary (or extra) effort by 23% and intent to stay by up to 32% (full content available to clients). That’s motivation enough to refresh your employee recognition strategy.

Your approach to recognizing employees should include both formal and informal recognition. It’s a given that big accomplishments and milestones should be discussed during 360 feedback sessions, but recognizing everyday wins can be just as effective at boosting employee morale.

One of the easiest ways to recognize daily accomplishments is by encouraging your team to speak up about them. If you use a collaboration tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams, you can create a channel specifically for this purpose. If not, try dedicating a few minutes of your next team meeting to sharing successes.

Another popular way to recognize employees is through rewards or gifts. Employee recognition software is great for this; these tools allow HR managers and supervisors to reward employees’ efforts in the form of awards, gift cards, or additional time off.

Tip: Let your employees choose their own rewards and they’ll be even more excited about receiving them.
Employee reward in Guusto


An employee gift given through Guusto (Source)



2. Encourage your employees to take time off

Taking time away from work is beneficial for both mental and physical health. Employees that take time off report feeling less stressed and more productive when they return to work. They’re also less likely to search for a new role and leave your business.

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest your employees not work in order to get higher quality work from them, but regular time off is necessary for preventing burnout. Especially in the case of remote work, where some may have a harder time setting clear boundaries between their work and home lives.

Simply providing paid time off (PTO) isn’t enough if employees are expected to complete their responsibilities at the same pace they would if they were on the clock. In a survey exploring how U.S. employees use their PTO, the second-highest response employees gave for not taking time off was their workload.

52% of employees with PTO have worked during their time off

So, how can you create a work environment where vacations aren’t just accepted, but encouraged?Make taking time off part of your company culture.

Here’s are three ways to do just that:

  • Meet with your employees prior to their PTO to figure out who can take over their responsibilities while they’re out.
  • Have your team leads and managers regularly share their PTO plans with their teams, including what they’re looking forward to during their time away.
  • Gift organization-wide half days when company goals are met.
Tip: Time and attendance tools make capacity planning around PTO a breeze, whether you have one employee or 10,000.

3. Host a virtual coffee break or happy hour

Historically, having fun on the clock has been frowned upon, but there are benefits to kicking back and enjoying casual conversation with your coworker. Some studies show that employees are up to 13% more productive when they’re happy. Not to mention, connecting with your employees in a casual setting helps you form close relationships, which can lead to better teamwork later on.

These opportunities are especially important if you’re a part of a fully remote team, because you miss out on the natural interactions that happen when you share a workspace. Luckily, video conferencing software can help (plus, there’s a good chance you’re already using it).

Hosting a coffee chat or happy hour is easy; all you need to do is send a calendar invite to your team and choose your video conferencing toole. Some remote teams take it a step further and play games or host virtual cooking classes, but it’s up to you to decide what activity works best.

Virtual trivia


Host virtual trivia through (Source)



Tip: Source ideas for team activities from your employees. Send out a survey or use a poll to vote on the most popular idea.

4. Use employee engagement software to diagnose (and solve) sources of disengagement

Employee engagement software helps you figure out what’s causing your employees to feel disengaged, as well as what steps you can take to fix it. These systems can be standalone tools or a part of a more comprehensive talent management suite.

In either case, employee engagement software primarily exists to provide workers with a platform through which they can do three things:

  1. Submit honest criticism about their work environment without fear of retaliation
  2. Receive regular feedback from managers about their performance
  3. Come together with co-workers to celebrate individual or company-wide wins

These three actions should sound familiar—they’re part of most employee engagement strategies. The benefit of using software to complete these tasks is that all of the functionality is in one system that automates most associated administrative and reporting processes (which saves you time and money).

Home screen in Kudos


Employees share wins with Kudos (Source)



Tip: Read the “Why You Don’t Want Employee Engagement Software (Yet)” section of our buyer’s guide to determine if employee engagement software should be a part of your 2021 strategy.

What next? Find the tools you need to put these tips into practice

Businesses have had to deal with disengaged employees since the late 19th century, so what’s the big deal? The fact that disengagement could be costing your company.

Forbes estimated that employee disengagement costs the average 250-person business over $3 million a year. On the other hand, research from Gartner shows that when managers effectively engage employees, business outcomes are boosted by an average of seven percent (full content available to clients).

From employee pulse survey tools to video conferencing software, having the right solutions in place will help you put these tips into practice. That said, we know that choosing and buying software can be daunting.

You probably have questions like: Can my business get away with using the free version of a tool? Is one comprehensive suite a better option than separate solutions that integrate? Our software advisors can help you answer those questions, and any others you may have.

Click here to chat with one of our advisors right now, free of charge, or schedule a phone call for a later time.

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