Over one year later, and many of us are still working from home due to COVID-19. In the beginning, organizations rushed to transition their teams, processes, and culture to an online work environment – and employees quickly had to adjust to this new norm. But even while dealing with stay-at-home orders – and a continued precarious school situation for employees with children – many employees are working more successfully than ever before. This isn’t entirely a surprise: research shows that remote workers perform better, get work done faster, and take fewer sick days.

Even though employees are under stress caused by the pandemic, more work is being done at home than at the office. For organizations that have never offered remote work before, the positive effects of working from home are causing them to rethink their work environment post-pandemic. Twenty-five percent of Canadian businesses are probably going to continue offering remote work, with 14 percent making it a requirement.

Remote or traditional office environment, the key to having a productive, engaged workforce is to have motivated employees. The amount of energy, commitment, persistence, and creativity employees bring to their work is directly related to their engagement and productivity levels. The more engaged that employees are in their work, the more productive they are in their roles, and so it’s crucial to invest in improving worker engagement.

When our employees are highly engaged, they experience more job satisfaction and increase our company’s profitability. They’re also more likely to remain working for us, contributing to better retention and lower turnover rates. Remote workers are happier, and happy teams help improve our company’s reputation: 89 percent of satisfied employees are more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work.

Although keeping remote employees engaged and motivated may be more challenging, it’s entirely possible. After all, their mental health and our company’s success depend on it!

Check out the following five tips for motivating employees that are working from home.

Worker Engagement Tip #1: Promote Happiness

When we experience happiness, our entire well-being improves. We lead a better quality of life, experience a lower risk of disease and injury, and have a greater likelihood of making our communities a better place to be.

Happy employees are better for our companies, too. When we’re healthy and happy, we deliver the best workplace performance possible. Research shows that productivity can increase by 31 percent, sales by 37 percent, and accuracy on tasks by 19 percent.

Keeping remote workers happy doesn’t need to be complicated, either. Make team members feel included by completing regular one-on-one check-ins to inquire about their workloads and well-being. Getting to know them is harder to do remotely, but try to learn what’s going on in their lives. See if there’s anything they need to make their workday easier – think extra training, upgraded hardware, or flexible hours. Offer words of praise and provide support whenever appropriate.

Get creative to make remote workers’ workloads lighter and more efficient, and ask for their input. Simply asking the question, “How can I help you enjoy your job more?” can be a great way to start the conversation. Involve remote workers in the decision-making process and encourage employees to communicate and implement new ideas. The results of doing so can be monumental: Employees who experience a high level of empowerment typically have a high level of engagement, too.

Worker Engagement Tip #2: Place Importance on Mental Health

Social isolation, staying indoors for longer periods, and worrying about themselves and their loved ones have caused employees to be more stressed than ever before. The state of our mental health can affect everything we do, including our productivity levels.

Make mental health a priority by promoting the importance of self-care. Consider implementing a weekly mental health hour where employees can spend work time doing an activity to improve their well-being. Anything can go – such as walking the dog or playing a board game with family – as long as it’s outside of work responsibilities.

With gyms closed for the better part of a year now, it’s difficult for some employees to make time for physical activity. Organize a wellness challenge, offer complimentary meditation or yoga classes over Zoom, or suggest making the next meeting a walking meeting held over the phone instead of a screen. Review and improve the benefits offered for mental health support and frequently remind employees of what’s available.

Worker Engagement Tip #3: Approach Employee Recognition Differently

It’s always nice to receive recognition for working hard, overcoming a challenge, or reaching a goal. When we recognize employee achievements, we help grow emotional connections to the workplace that positively influence future performance.

In a traditional accounting office, it’s easy to pop by a team member’s workspace to show our appreciation or give a shout-out during a firm-wide staff meeting. With employees working from home, more creativity is necessary when offering recognition.

Connect with employees by phone during a non-scheduled meeting to personally thank them for a recent achievement. Provide effective praise that’s specific, timely, genuine, and relevant and creates positive emotion. Consider supplying team members with a recognition tool – such as a virtual bulletin board – that inspires employees to share compliments.

Call out remote workers’ achievements consistently and empower the entire team to do the same. Initiate a point-based rewards system that allows employees to cash in points for gift cards or other incentives.

Worker Engagement Tip #4: Set Up Our Employees for Success

We need to lead our remote teams in a way that promotes productivity, even when we’re not there. Hold regular meetings with employees to set clear, measurable goals and find solutions for any work-related challenges. Employees finding it difficult to concentrate with kids completing their schooling in the background? Provide an allotment in the company’s benefits offerings to invest in workplace equipment, such as noise-cancelling headphones.

Remote employees are usually self-motivated, but they still require guidance to prioritize their work. Use a centralized communications system that hosts project timelines, materials, and conversations to keep everyone on track to achieve desired outcomes.

Regular communication is necessary to keep remote workers engaged and productive – but avoid too much face time. Many employees are at risk of burnout, so if a meeting isn’t 100 percent necessary, leave workers alone to complete their work.

Worker Engagement Tip #5: Simplify the Professional Development Process

Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) member firms are required by professional standards to obtain a certain amount of professional development(PD) annually (and triennially). These requirements remain the same whether we’re working remotely.

Try to simplify the obligation of satisfying PD requirement for remote workers where possible. Organize learning plans that lay out a selection of relevant courses. Continue to book the courses on behalf of employees.

Placing a priority on personal and professional development shows we’ve invested in our employees’ careers. Firms that promote learning benefit from higher motivation, performance, and engagement levels from their employees while minimizing engagement risk. It also helps us retain our best team members and attract the top candidates in this competitive job market.

The Bottom Line About Motivating Employees Working from Home

From employee well-being and happiness to firm productivity and retention rates, there are plenty of benefits from having worker engagement. With the lack of physical presence, motivating remote workers requires more innovative thinking. But when done well, both our employees and our organizations enjoy greater success.

Improve the knowledge of your remote workers with our professional development offerings. We have an extensive library of online courses specifically developed for public practitioners and their staff to maintain their knowledge and stay abreast of changes within the profession. Browse our online courses to choose the appropriate tax, accounting, and assurance courses for you and your firm.