HR Archives - TAB Corporate

5 Ways to Motivate Your Remote Employees

remote team

Working offsite is no longer the revolutionary business idea it once was. These days, many businesses oversee a workforce that—at least to some degree—rarely or almost never actually sets foot in the office or workplace. These remote employees work from home or even in another state or country, seeing to their job responsibilities just as efficiently as if they were located in a cubicle outside their manager’s door.

At the same time, certain challenges persist where remote workers are concerned. How can you be sure an offsite employee is being as productive as possible? What can be done to motivate him or her in much the same way that onsite employees are inspired to do their best?

In reality, notes employee productivity specialist Dave Nevogt, “the only things keeping remote employees from taking their foot off the gas pedal is their own discipline and their motivation.” It’s the employer’s responsibility “to provide this motivation across many miles, sometimes continents.”

Here are five practical ways to ensure your offsite workforce remains focused and motivated:

1. Maintain regular communications. Given the available technology (email, Skype, numerous other web-based platforms), there’s no reason you can’t stay in touch with offsite employees on a regular basis. The key is remembering to contact them on an agreed-upon schedule (once or twice a week, for example) to see if they’re on target to complete a project, need help with additional resources or simply have problems you can address. When these employees don’t hear from the main office, their sense of dislocation can grow.

2. Think of remote employees as a key element of the team. Feeling like they’re part of a team effort helps bolster a remote worker’s sense of belonging. Always make sure any contact you have with your onsite staff (new announcements, email newsletters, etc.) also includes those working from home or elsewhere. Encourage employees in the office to stay in touch with their offsite counterparts, as well.

3. Hold virtual meetings, when needed. Just as it’s important to convene internal meetings when there’s something important to communicate, you can schedule virtual meetings with remote staff as a way to track their progress, foster contact between these employees and keep them abreast of events within the organization. Video-conferencing is an excellent resource for these meetings, as even digital face-to-face contact is better than rushed, impersonal phone calls.

4. Extend recognition to your offsite team. By and large, businesses understand that “employee recognition not only improves company culture, boosts morale, prevents costly turnover [and] increases your bottom line.” If you have a robust employee recognition and reward program in place, always remember to include your remote team as well. Highlighting their efforts, when appropriate, will bolster their sense of inclusiveness and motivate them to continue to excel at what they do. At the same time, it only takes a few minutes to compose a “Great job!” email and send it on when the time is right. Any communication that underscores your appreciation for their efforts can work wonders.

5. Offer opportunities for professional growth. Again, as with employees who work in the office, the remote team should benefit from training and development programs sponsored by the business. Just remember that these employees “already have flexibility in their jobs, so they expect the same flexibility when it comes to training.” This includes online learning programs offered in a range of formats, so offsite workers can choose the ones that are most convenient and effective for them. In exchange, you’ll benefit from their enhanced skills and knowledge.

Your employees, whether based offsite or in the workplace, are among your business’s key assets. Keeping them motivated is well worth the time and effort involved.

Want more advice on motivating employees or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

Getting New Employees Off to a Great Start

New Hire nametag on a green shirt worn by a new employee or fres
Even at companies with great products and technologies, employees are invaluable. After all, someone needs to develop those new innovations and maintain your technology. It’s no secret that a company is only as strong as its weakest link.  But even though employers know workers are a business’s most valuable asset, most employees don’t feel particularly valued in the workplace.

Take a look at this article, from the Harvard Business Review. Kevin Ryan, CEO of Gilt Groupe, argues that businesses succeed not because of ideas, but because of people. Mr. Ryan is of the opinion that CEOs should spend most of their time recruiting and managing people.

No argument there, but I would also argue that most companies have a fundamental hiring and training flaw.  This lack of post hiring skill is especially problematic for small businesses. In larger businesses, a few employees not operating at peak performance is not a major issue. At a small businesses, it is imperative for every employee to be top notch.

What does the first week – and the first month – look like for an employee in your business? Most businesses provide a good cultural introduction on the first few days. The job responsibilities of the employee are explained, and maybe the new employee someone who will closely supervise them for the first couple weeks. My experience in small businesses is that shortly after a new employee is hired, they are on the front line, doing the job they were hired to do.

This can be done better. How? My experience is that hiring managers do a great job focusing on the WHAT. But they do a poor job focusing on the WHY and the HOW.

In time, a new employee will learn the WHY from doing their job and interacting managers and with their peers. But, they would do a better job initially if they learned the WHY right from day one.

Explaining the HOW is what I see as the true missed opportunity in new employee training. In fact, my experience is that hiring managers are reluctant to teach the HOW because they are afraid of offending the employee. They picked the new hire because of their experience, right? If the employee has been working on a helpdesk for the last 3 years, they should know how to do it; and could be legitimately offended if their hiring manager gets too basic.

I understand this concern, but there’s a workaround. Establish an upfront agreement with the new employee. This agreement would be done on the new worker’s first day, and would go something like this:

Ann, I’m so happy that you are finally part of the team. You are going to be a great asset to our organization, and I am hopeful that you will have a long and successful career here. 

We will undertake a comprehensive training program over the next two weeks. The goal of this program is for you to be fully prepared to be as successful as possible.

I’ve hired you because of your significant experience in this area, but we also have some best practices that we’ve developed.  I want to be sure you are fully prepared to execute our company developed practices. 

During this training period, I’m asking your permission to explain things to you very carefully; these explanations will probably include many things that you already know. I’m also asking your permission to accept feedback from me on each task as we go through them. 

Again, the goal is to prepare you to be as successful as possible in your new role. I also expect to learn many things through this training period, and will commit to be open minded regarding your feedback.

In my experience, all employees want to do a great job. Moreover, most employees think that they are doing a good job – even if their managers do not. Yet, without being introduced to the WHY and the HOW from day 1 – they are not fully meeting the owner’s expectations.

By establishing an upfront contract like that outlined above, you will have permission to cover the WHY, WHAT & HOW of the new position; and at the end of the training period, you will have an employee fully ready to be rock star for your business.

Tips for training new employees?

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