Management and human resource professionals play critical roles in promoting connectivity with remote workers, which is essential for maintaining employee engagement, fostering collaboration, and ensuring employees feel connected to the organization. Connectivity not only benefits the individual but also contributes to the overall success and resilience of the company. While many employees have returned to the office post-COVID-19, as of 2023, “12.7% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% work a hybrid model,” according to Forbes. Despite the many benefits of remote or hybrid work, it can also negatively affect employees' engagement and overall well-being, especially during holidays.
Throughout the holiday season, many organizations take advantage of opportunities to celebrate by hosting festive parties or events to reward staff contributions to the success of the organization, increase employee morale, and strengthen interpersonal workplace relationships. Working from home, however, can eliminate opportunities for group celebrations, which may lead to the remote worker feeling disconnected and disengaged from their company or coworkers. According to a Forbes article, “loneliness and isolation are the largest reported concern amongst remote workers.” Remote work can also lead employees to feel guilty or try to overcompensate, according to a Microsoft employee well-being survey report.
Workers who are satisfied and feel connected to their company make an immense difference in organizational success. According to a Gallup report, engaged employees are 44% more likely to remain with their current organization than unengaged employees. Further, satisfied and engaged employees save companies money by reducing turnover, which can cost between “$7,500 to $28,000 to find and onboard a new employee,” according to BambooHR. On the other hand, disengaged employees account for 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability, according to Gallup research. In general, increased worker satisfaction through employee engagement can have numerous positive effects on an organization, including improved productivity, reduced turnover, enhanced morale, and financial benefits.
Below are innovative strategies to increase worker engagement. In this section, we will also explain how employers and HR professionals can promote connectivity and engagement with remote workers and contract staff through the holidays.
5 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement During Holidays
- Holiday Challenges
Create holiday-themed challenges or contests that promote employee and contract staff participation, like a holiday-themed photo contest (i.e., ugly sweater, holiday decorating, etc.), host online trivia games, or have a festive attire day. These activities provide workers with fun challenges that promote engagement with other staff members to foster inter-organizational relationships.
- Team-Building Activities
Plan team-building activities, such as virtual escape rooms, puzzles, or team challenges that promote collaboration and bonding. Team activities are an excellent way for staff to brainstorm together and gain familiarity with departments outside their own within the company.
- Care Packages and Personalized Messages
Send holiday care packages to your remote employees, such as snacks, company-branded items, or seasonal gift baskets, to show appreciation for staff contribution to company success. Attach personalized holiday messages or thank-you notes to each remote employee gift to convey the organization’s appreciation for their hard work and dedication.
- Recognize Cultural Diversity
Respect and acknowledge the cultural diversity of your remote workforce by recognizing various holidays and traditions. Celebrating diverse cultural events and festivities not only helps diverse employees feel seen and heard but also broadens an organization’s diversity awareness.
- Encourage Time Off and Provide Support
Recognize that the holiday season can be stressful for some employees, especially for those with young children and/or distant family members. Encourage staff members to use paid time off during the holiday season to rest, recharge, and take time for themselves. Additionally, proactively offering mental health and stress reduction resources can aid staff in coping with any mental health challenges that may arise during the holidays and beyond.
Regardless of worker location status, organizations should plan holiday activities with inclusivity in mind and ensure they are suitable for everyone. Including both full-time employees and contract staff members in your company’s virtual holiday events is a great way to foster a sense of belonging and build company loyalty.
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