How to Keep Virtual Employees Engagement

Nearly 1 out of 2 people in the US  is a virtual employee in some capacity. Knowing this what we can do to stimulates virtual employees engagement?

The statistics show that over 16 million people in the US work from home and the popularity is increasing. 33% of people in the US work from home at least once a month (Source Dieringer Research Group, The Dieringer Research Group’s 2004 – 2005 American Interactive Consumer Survey).

It’s no wonder many of today’s most cherished employees are also their family unit’s providers. We are talking about the ‘sandwich generation’—breadwinners often taking care of elderly parents and supporting grown children simultaneously. As these workers get pulled in multiple directions, making the work schedule fit with various life demands is not simply a luxury it’s a necessity.

The business question is; what’s the trade off? Do organizations that allow employees the flexibility to work in a home or virtual office environment concede a level of output or are virtual employees more productive? The other issue on the table is this; does working away from the traditional office (and coworkers) negatively impact the sense of shared mission and mutuality that plays such an important role in igniting a common culture and mission?

While the data is still evolving early evidence suggests that virtual workers are actually more productive than those who do not have the option. A survey of almost 1,000 remote and mobile workers worldwide by Insight Express and SonicWALL found that 75% of telecommuting workers believe working remotely aids productivity and 60% of their managers agree with them.

But are virtual employees more emotionally and intellectually committed to the enterprise? Does a online work situation promote or deter the level of virtual employees engagement? While there is no definitive data on this, we can make the assumption that any work condition that facilitates, rather than conflicts with the personal values, goals, requirements, real world responsibilities and personal aspirations of the employee will drive a higher sense of mutuality.

In other words, if a worker sees his position in the firm as a personal means to an end, rather than a source of continuous personal conflict, he is much more likely to feel that the enterprise shares his values and goals.

Reward programs helps to increase virtual employees engagement

There is no question that responsibility for reward programs is migrating from some of the more traditional disciplines (like sales and product marketing) to HR or some other focal point within the enterprise. Why? For starters, non-cash is becoming an increasingly important component of The Total Rewards formula. Sarbanes Oxley and good corporate management are other factors. Financial executives are demanding proof of the business case before authorizing funds and better control and management of the investment along the way.

Not only is this increased scrutiny good for shareholders it also signals opportunity for HR executives looking to get a better seat at the planning table. Aided by data dashboards, HR has a tool that can help strengthen its position as a strategic leader within the organization.

Dashboards provide a better view of trends and allow planners to track performance against the original business case monitoring ROI more meaningfully. HR can spot, sometimes anticipate, sales or operational misalignment before the program investment gets seriously off track. HR is now in a better position to make proactive suggestions to C-level colleagues on where and how to modify program emphasis and/or funding.

Bottom line

The sheer amount and velocity of change we all deal with can be overwhelming. In our fast-paced world a data dashboard’s real value is not limited to program management. Used properly dashboards can be part crystal ball as well.

What others virtual employees engagement activities you know? Share with us some of your best practices.

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