The Keys to Engaged Remote Workers (it’s not what you think)

HRDQ-U Blog | The Keys to Engaged Remote Workers
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For several years, engagement has been a big topic among consultants and the business press. Organizations and leaders are increasingly recognizing the importance of having engaged team members. Leading to the creation of various programs, tools, apps, processes, and surveys aimed at supporting and encouraging employee engagement. This focus on engagement has become even more critical in recent months, with millions of people transitioning to remote work. However, the challenge of maintaining employee engagement in a remote work setting seems to be more complex than ever. In this article, we will delve into the essence of work from home employee engagement. We will explore what engagement truly means and, more importantly, who bears the responsibility for fostering it.

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What is virtual employee engagement?

Efforts to enhance employee engagement often assume the inherent “good” value of the concept, assuming that everyone understands what it means. I agree that engagement is good and that it is worth pursuing, but we must know where to head before we begin.  Here is a short section from the book Long-Distance Teammate that addresses this point. Engagement is more than employee satisfaction. You can be happy, and your job’s fine. Nothing’s wrong, but it doesn’t mean that you’re fully engaged.

Engaged is a level of caring beyond just “it’s okay.” How much discretionary effort are you putting in? How much of your heart, soul, and effort are you putting into your work? Are you satisfied with just the bare minimum, or are you doing your best most of the time? Also, engagement is about caring, believing, and being motivated by the work, your co-workers, and the importance and purpose of the work’s output. In turn, if you doubt the value of this, consider two people: one who is all those things and another for whom those things wouldn’t be true.  Who do you want on your team (to lead or work with)?

Who owns engagement?

Contrary to popular belief, we firmly believe that ownership of engagement largely rests with the individual employee. How much one cares, the effort one invests, and their level of motivation are choices within their control. While external factors, including colleagues and leaders, can influence these choices, the ultimate responsibility lies with the individual. If engagement hinges on caring, belief, motivation, and purpose, it is the individual (even in remote work settings) who holds the reins of control. Engagement is not the sole domain of managers, HR departments, or engagement project teams; it is a personal commitment.

The organizational and leadership role

This doesn’t absolve leadership or organizations from their role in fostering engagement. There are numerous ways in which leaders and organizations can support and encourage individuals to make choices that enhance their engagement. However, it’s crucial to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to “get people to be engaged.” Leaders should focus on finding ways to bolster individual engagement rather than searching for a magic formula. As individual team member engagement grows, everyone benefits, from the individual worker to the leadership and the entire organization. In conclusion, this article encourages you to view engagement as a personal responsibility. Including prioritizing your own engagement as a way to inspire and influence others positively.

Work from home engagement

Employee engagement, particularly in the context of remote work, remains a pivotal concern for organizations and leaders. It’s a concept that goes beyond mere satisfaction, requiring individuals to care deeply about their work, colleagues, and the purpose behind their efforts. Importantly, engagement is not something that can be imposed from the top; it begins with the individual employee. While leadership and organizations play a vital role in supporting and encouraging engagement, it’s crucial to recognize that the ultimate responsibility lies with the individual. As engagement flourishes at the individual level, the entire team and organization benefit. This article challenges the traditional view of engagement. It encourages you to take ownership of your engagement, setting an example for others to follow in the pursuit of remarkable employee engagement in work-from-home scenarios.

Kevin Eikenberry
Kevin Eikenberry

Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group  ⇗. He has spent over 30 years helping organizations across North America and leaders from over 40 countries on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication, and more.  Twice, he has been named by as one of the top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and has been included in many other similar lists. He is the author, co-author, or contributing author to nearly 20 books, including Remarkable Leadership and bestseller From Bud to Boss – Secrets of the Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership (with Guy Harris), The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership and The Long-Distance Teammate (both with Wayne Turmel).

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