Q&A: How do you keep your remote staff engaged?

Ankur Patel, Director of Product Marketing, Zenefits
Mar 9, 2021

“People are happy when you give them what they ask for. People are delighted when you anticipate what they didn’t think to ask for. It’s proof that they’re wholly visible to you as people, not just as workers from whom you’re trying to squeeze productivity.” Lazlo Bock, author of Work Rules! and former SVP People Operations, Google.

So how can you ensure your people feel wholly visible and engaged when they are increasingly not even in your office? This Q&A episode covers tips for remote work engagement.

Effective remote engagement is not a one-and-done situation. Yet, it’s easy to fall into the out-of-sight-out-of-mind trap and assume your people are doing fine. As the work environment continues to be in a state of flux, how do you keep your remote staff engaged?

In this POPS! episode, Zenefits Director of Product Marketing Ankur Patel discusses three simple steps you can take to create positive ongoing engagement with your people.

In this Q&A, you’ll hear:

  • [01:18-01:52] How to give your employees a voice
  • [01:53-03:14] Make sure you understand your employees’ needs
  • [03:15-04:45] How to make sure you take action

POPS Star Bio

As the director of Product Marketing at Zenefits, with over 10 years of experience in the technology sector, Ankur Patel loves problem-solving. Ankur started helping his father with their small business when he was just 10 years old, so he knows the ups and downs of the small business world and how familial it is. He also understands how the familial aspect impacts home and work life, and loves supporting small business initiatives any way he can.

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Ankur: How do you keep your remote staff engaged? 

Didi: Welcome to POPS! the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people, operations for the new world of work. How? By answering one question at a time. Today, to help us answer your question. Here’s Ankur Patel, the Director of Product Marketing at Zenefits. 

Ankur: With millennials and Gen Z, starting to overtake the workforce. Remote working was always something business owners were going to have to tackle, but March and April of 2020, just so happened to push that to the forefront a lot sooner, and many businesses were just not prepared.

It’s tough to go from a shoulder-to-shoulder working environment. And expect the same interactions or productivity at home, but there is definitely a proven method to help engage your workforce. Lucky for us leaders and engagement have been studying this topic for years and it provided some best practices.

There are really three simple steps to think through when building your engagement strategy. The first is giving your employees a voice employees want to be heard. Your goals should be to provide an outlet to express opinions and feedback at all times, and ultimately scale this, make sure you’re creating opportunities for all types of employees, the introverts, the extroverts.

So no one voice is drowned out. This could be through listening hours, focus groups, and incorporating regular survey polls for your employees. The second step is understanding their needs. So your employees have spoken whether through the anonymous email inbox, the focus group you held, or your survey strategy, it’s time to distill all of that great information and the insights that’s actually top of mind for your employees.

What pains are they facing today? And what areas are you as their employer? Not fully addressing one of the first things we heard when so many people move to a remote work environment was that employees were having trouble equipping and acclimating to the home office, shifting from having the right tools and equipment and working space at the office to working from home in a kitchen or your kids’ room is a big transition.

Many HR leaders started hearing this feedback loud and clear. It’s important to understand the level of impact of the issues you learn about. For example, Zenefits offers a survey tool that makes it easy to collect input and to identify the hot spots in the company, by topic by department or even function, it’s a faster way to get to the root of any issues and start working to solve a problem quicker than setting up an anonymous email inbox.

For example. The last and most important step is to take action if you ask, but don’t follow up, you can create a new problem. One of eroding trust, start with this simple, but timely follow-up note to share what you’ve learned. It’s a good step to ensure your employees feel heard, but keep in mind, you definitely need to make an action plan.

In the example I shared before, employees struggled with the work from home setup, many businesses started including a stipend each month to help ease the cost of a work from home setup. Others found that some types of roles like engineers required more specialized setups, and they built-in support accordingly working with their department leaders to ensure deeper communication and an action plan to meet those needs.

Ultimately for this step, be as transparent as possible to your employees know you’re listening, and always maintain their anonymity. That’s it. Three simple steps, give a voice, understand their needs. Take action. And one more thing, especially as the pandemic continues to keep business as usual in a state of flux.

Keep checking in, keep asking, and keep changing to meet changing needs. Good useful. Remote engagement is not a once and done situation.

Didi: Do you have a question for our experts? Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to [email protected]


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About The People Ops Podcast

Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.

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