7 Strategies to Motivate Remote Employees
May 20, 2021
Have you noticed a dip in the motivation of your team members recently? With the emotional stress and economic concerns brought on by the pandemic, many individuals are feeling fatigued, and as the need to work remotely stretches on, your employees’ drive may decrease further.
A survey cited in the Harvard Business Review showed that when individuals had a choice about where they worked, the remote employees were typically less motivated than their peers in the office. When people didn’t have a choice about where they worked – as many of us are experiencing in 2020 – motivation dropped even further. In fact, it dropped by 17 points, which is equivalent to the decrease that individuals experience when they move from a company with one of the best cultures to one of the worst in their industries.
Helping our employees maintain their energy is essential to supporting positive and productive workplaces. As COVID-19 continues to impact people’s work and lives, employers should continue to support their staff and pay attention to the initiative they bring to their jobs.
What Are the Common Signs of an Unmotivated Employee?
To support engagement, consider the behaviors listed below and whether you are seeing any of these warning signs among your staff:
- They show up late to meetings.
- Their mood has changed.
- They lack focus.
- They are increasingly absent from work or team building events
- They engage in a lot of negative discussion or conflict.
- They are reluctant to contribute to conversations.
- They seem disinterested in taking on new initiatives.
- They fail to finish projects on time, or their work product is sub-par
The signs of changing motivation will be different depending on your team members. For example, if an individual does not have a preference for Social Thinking, they may not attend optional team building events and still feel fully motivated. Or if your employee is in the first-third of Expressiveness, they may be actively engaged while staying quiet in meetings.
The important thing to keep in mind when referencing the list above is to look for real changes in behavior – not an occasional occurrence. We all may have a bad day here and there where our emotions are heightened, or we lack focus.
However, if a staff member who frequently contributes to meetings through verbal interaction seems withdrawn, that should be a sign to check in. If the behavior becomes more frequent, it stands to reason that their energy may be suffering.
What Can I Do to Increase Motivation on My Team?
1. Start by connecting in a way that resonates with your employees.
If a team member seems to be struggling, begin by checking in during one-on-one meetings. Trust takes time to build, so start small by getting to know employees as individuals and asking where they are at given current circumstances. Some may want to share about their personal lives, while others may prefer to keep the conversation professional.
I recommend inviting them to take wellness breaks during the day and to use their paid time off. Even if they are not traveling, taking vacation time is so important, especially now, and it’s been shown to help improve productivity, reduce stress and increase engagement.
I also invite you to use the Emergenetics® Profile with your team members. When you understand their preferences, you can engage them by communicating and connecting in a way that resonates with their preferred Thinking and Behavioral styles.
2. Consider the team member’s workload.
It’s possible your employee may be feeling overwhelmed, which can negatively impact their drive. As you check in with individuals, ask how they feel about their workload. Is it too much? Is it not enough?
If they have too much on their plate, I encourage you to help them prioritize their projects. If you or other staff members have tips for time management, you can also offer those to your teammate.
Remember: the goal is to focus on balance and offer suggestions to help employees better manage their workloads. The objective is not to micromanage. Try to keep your focus on outcomes rather than tasks unless that individual solicits your guidance in task management.
3. Clarify expectations and goals.
Employees may also find themselves lacking motivation when they are not sure what outcomes are being sought. Provide clarity into expectations, share any parameters and guidelines and explain the role they are expected to play in each project.
Also, consider working with your team member to identify the “why” behind their work. By helping them understand the value of the projects they contribute to, you can establish a more motivating environment.
Partner with your employee to outline the objectives as well as identify priority metrics that will help you both know if the project was successful.
4. Bring meaning to the work.
Team members may lose motivation if they feel disconnected from your organization, which can be more commonplace in a remote setting. One way to help staff feel more engaged in their work is by ensuring that they have opportunities to experience the products or services you offer.
I also encourage you to keep your company’s vision and values front and center. When employees feel that their organization stands for something, they tend to be more engaged.
Finally, provide opportunities to connect with team members and colleagues in other departments. Employees often put more effort into their jobs when they have friends at work, so taking time to help your team bond can increase motivation.
5. Inspire staff with development opportunities.
Employees are more engaged when they are learning and growing. Work with your staff members to support their career progression by offering professional development opportunities.
While you may have specific trainings in mind, I also invite you to ask employees what skills they want to develop. Connect with your Learning & Development or Human Resources teams as well to see what additional programming may be at your fingertips.
You can also engage individuals by involving them in problem solving. The pandemic has caused all our businesses to shift, which has likely created new opportunities for improvement. By giving your employees a chance to share ideas and work on projects that contribute to the viability of your company, you can energize them.
6. Empower experimentation.
When you demonstrate to your staff that you trust them, you will also see motivation increase. One way to show your faith is to empower them with decision making authority.
Another opportunity may be to encourage them to discover and test out new solutions or technologies to support your work. Allow them to experiment with platforms or propose adaptations to your company’s policies, processes and practices.
You may also provide time for staff to work on passion projects by offering 10% time –using 10% of their work hours to explore a project unrelated to their job function – or invite them to join a workplace task force that focuses on a project that aligns with their interests.
7. Reflect together.
It can be hard to take time to reflect – and it’s so important to our engagement and learning. On a monthly basis – or weekly if possible – get into the habit of doing a reflection with team members to think back on what they accomplished and what they may like to do differently.
In your one-on-one meetings, provide feedback along with reflections. Constructive and positive inputs can help individuals feel like there are learning, which contributes to engagement.
Lastly, be sure to celebrate with your team and individual staff members. Reflect on the wins and the learnings, so your people feel empowered to keep trying new things even when failures occur.
2020 has certainly tested our employees’ motivation and drive. As you consider the strategies listed above to support your people, I also encourage you to give yourself and your team members grace.
While we always want our staff to feel motivated and engaged, dips will happen, especially this year! If you approach these ebbs and flows with empathy and understanding, both you and your employee will be in a much better position to navigate the challenges of 2020 and beyond.
Source: Emergenetics International