Employee engagement is a huge challenge, especially when your team is scattered and working remotely. It’s difficult to overcome the natural barriers that form when each individual is wrapped in their own, isolated work-from-home bubble.
The holidays present an even more challenging workplace engagement conundrum. As flexible remote-work schedules, personal activities, and holiday festivities begin to capture everyone’s attention, retaining your employees’ interest and enthusiasm can be problematic. Fortunately, there are several things that team leaders can do to cultivate an attentive and invested staff throughout the weeks and months ahead.
Set Reasonable Expectations
Before you begin motivating and empowering employees in the name of engagement, as a leader the first thing that you want to do is set your own expectations.
Remember, you’re leading your team through the holiday season at the end of a chaotic and exhausting year. This isn’t the time to aim for doubling your sales, nor should you begin making massive changes to internal operations.
Instead, set your sights on more attainable aspirations. Create goals like maintaining reasonable levels of productivity or helping your team avoid classic holiday struggles with things like burnout and stress. Being realistic is a key part of setting and accomplishing attainable goals this holiday season.
Prioritize Work-Life Balance
Simply demanding endless time and attention from your employees is a sure recipe for disengaged and apathetic workers. This is especially important to remember in a remote work setting. When you can’t physically see your staff, it’s tempting to micromanage to ensure that your employees are regularly “putting in the hours.”
However, the truth is, the majority of employees struggle with the opposite issue when working remotely. Four months into the coronavirus pandemic it was reported that more than two-thirds of remote employees were experiencing burnout symptoms and couldn’t figure out how to slow down, unplug, or decompress in their work-from-home environments.
This may sound like a productivity blessing for a boss, but a staff member that is unrested, strung out, and exasperated is going to produce at a very slow rate — no matter how many hours they put in each day. To counter this problem, one of the best ways to get the most out of your employee’s efforts is by encouraging them to find a healthy work-life balance. You can do this by suggesting that they:
- Take breaks regularly: It’s recommended that no one should spend more than two hours on a single task.
- Maintain a dedicated workspace: This enables employees to focus on work when in their “workspace” and then detach from work when they leave it.
- Encourage routines: Routines can provide a sense of structure and momentum that can have a tremendous effect on focus and productivity.
- Unplug at the end of each day: When an employee takes time off over the holidays, they should be encouraged to genuinely unplug from work responsibilities and focus on the personal time ahead of them.
- Promote mental health: Along with specific recommendations, it’s important for your employees to feel a general sense that their employer encourages things like breaks, vacations, and flexibility specifically in the name of promoting their mental health.
Maintaining work-life balance is a key factor in helping your employees show up to work (both in-person and virtually) both engaged and with a singular focus on the tasks at hand.
Be a Present Leader
If you want your employees to remain engaged in a healthy way over the holiday season, you must actively lead by example, as well.
During work hours, you can actively promote teamwork by highlighting collaborative efforts, answering questions, motivating your team, resolving conflicts, and responding to feedback. When it comes time to finish work and tend to personal life, it’s equally important for employers and managers to actively unplug from their workplace responsibilities and demonstrate how to properly maintain a good work-life balance.
By actively demonstrating to your employees the ability to either focus or unplug, depending on the scenario, you naturally encourage them to emulate the activity on their own.
Have a Re-Entry Plan
Finally, while it’s important to have an engagement plan in place for the end of the year, it’s also critical that you lay the groundwork for what comes afterward, too. In other words, you should make plans in the here and now to jumpstart employee engagement when everyone comes down from those holiday highs in early January.
You can do this by encouraging them to remain active on professional and personal social channels, creating healthy workplace competitions, and acknowledging and rewarding accomplishments from the holiday work season.
Keeping Employees Engaged Over the Holidays
Maintaining your employees’ attention and interest between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be a difficult task. However, it isn’t impossible.
By setting reasonable expectations, encouraging work-life balance, and demonstrating healthy engagement through your leadership, you can encourage your employees to stay focused and productive as they settle into their work each day.
Author: Beau Peters