11 Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas (No Group Games)
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According to Gallup, companies with strong employee engagement experience higher productivity, profitability, and retention levels. However, fostering engagement in remote and distributed companies requires intentional effort and dedication.
Since virtual teams can’t frequently gather in person, they must adopt new and creative ways to stay motivated and build relations. Typically, this includes hosting virtual team-building activities and Zoom hangouts. Still, there’s plenty more you can do to keep your remote workforce engaged long-term.
Here are 11 virtual employee engagement ideas you can adopt today.
1. Gamify your employee training and development
Gamification is the process of applying games or game-like elements to work activities to increase participation. For example, companies may use gamification for new employee training or learning and development initiatives.
Still, there is no reason not to expand its use to other aspects of day-to-day work, such as the achievement of milestones or the completion of a project.
Employees who experience gamification at work say it makes them happier, more productive, and more motivated. Here’s how to use gamification to engage your remote team:
Trivia quizzes: break up long video meetings with fun trivia sessions to refresh team members’ knowledge.
Leaderboards: introduce some friendly competition by using leaderboards in your training platform. Award points to trainees based on their scores or completion rates. Reward those in first, second, and third place with gift cards or other incentives.
Badges: when trainees complete a course, reward their hard work with a badge that symbolizes their achievement. Offer an incentive for employees to collect all of the available badges.
Simulations: simulate real-world scenarios related to the trainee’s role and allow them to answer prompts that impact the scenario’s outcome, like in a video game.
2. Introduce collaboration tools
There are many tools remote teams can use to collaborate and keep their employees engaged in their remote work, even if they aren’t in the same location or time zone. Try adding some of these collaboration tools to your team’s tech stack:
- Zoom or Google Meet for video conferencing and virtual events, like team happy hours
- Notion, to share information and create a single source of truth for all company documentation
- Trello or Asana for project tracking and management
- InVision, for real-time collaboration in a digital workspace
- Slack, to communicate, send files, and give and receive peer-to-peer feedback
3. Create a “Kudos” channel or thread
Employee recognition is a major driver of employee morale and engagement. According to one in five employees, feeling underappreciated for their contributions hinders their engagement.
To help employees feel recognized, create a Slack channel where anyone from the company can highlight and celebrate a colleague’s accomplishments and work anniversaries in front of the entire team.
If you don’t use Slack—or any internal messaging platform—you can apply this virtual employee engagement idea to your internal email. Start a company-wide email thread where remote employees can hit the “reply all” button and add their virtual kudos to the thread.
4. Bring in wellness incentives and challenges
Most business leaders believe a healthy workforce drives engagement. Consider offering employees a monthly health and wellness budget, which they can use towards an investment of their choice, like a gym membership or creative class, to improve their physical or mental health. Or, start a monthly wellness challenge to inspire remote employees to improve their health and incentivize participation with a physical or digital gift.
Investing in your remote team’s health and wellness shows employees you care about their well-being and encourages a healthy work-life balance. It also guarantees you will see improved morale and increased energy levels.
5. Deliver training through Slack
Want to make employee training more accessible and engaging? Use Slack’s workflow builder.
Since most remote employees already use Slack, it’s less intimidating to navigate than a separate training platform. This familiarity increases the chance of them engaging with and completing employee training delivered through the app.
Through Slack, you can create a bot that delivers training material at a strategic pace and prompts remote team members to complete courses when needed. You can also use this method to deliver training in smaller increments (called microlearning), improving focus and knowledge retention by up to 80%.
Discover Onboarding by Deel, a Slack-based, self-paced onboarding tool designed to optimize the training of new remote employees.
6. Schedule virtual 1-on-1 check-ins
Feeling disconnected from colleagues is the leading precursor to employee burnout. Remote employees need to connect with their coworkers to feel engaged and supported.
While entire-team meetings are often necessary, holding too many conference calls can interrupt everyone’s work hours and decrease productivity. They also aren’t the best environment for building one-on-one connections.
Instead, schedule one-on-one check-in meetings between remote employees and their managers. During these check-in meetings, participants should discuss the employee’s current workload but also take time to connect and get to know each other.
To keep remote workers connected with their peers, have them schedule monthly virtual coffee breaks with one another. This time is to get to know each other personally, not to discuss work. When onboarding a new hire, they should have one-to-one video calls with all their immediate team members within the first two weeks.
Connections by Deel offers roulette-style meetups and virtual water cooler topics to make interactions and team bonding even easier.
7. Introduce a virtual coaching or mentorship program
Employees are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work if they have a friend at the company. Enabling and facilitating these relationships can be extremely beneficial.
Mentorship and coaching programs can help employees build trusted relationships within their organizations. These programs can strengthen your team by connecting senior-level employees with those in junior positions and promote a culture of learning.
To run a coaching or mentorship program in a remote team, match employees with an appropriate mentor and have them schedule monthly virtual meetings to discuss the mentee’s goals, progress, and questions. Participants should also connect on Slack (or your internal messaging system of choice) to have an open line of communication for ad-hoc guidance.
8. Invest in remote workers’ virtual offices
Workspace design plays an essential role in employee engagement, and having a suitable workspace can impact employee satisfaction. A virtual employee’s work environment needs to be comfortable and functional to engage fully with their work.
By offering perks like work-from-home stipends or equipment provisioning, remote employees can get what they need to improve their home offices, such as a comfortable chair, laptop stand, or noise-canceling headphones. Or, you could provide memberships to a coworking space, where virtual employees can meet up with local colleagues and work together face-to-face.
9. Try out avatars
51% of Gen Z and Millennials envision themselves doing some teamwork in the metaverse within the next two years, which requires using an avatar.
Avatars help users feel like they’re together in the same room, even though they’re not. People who use avatars feel more engaged, present, and comfortable in meetings and can better read their colleagues’ body language. It also helps improve online conversation flow.
Two-dimensional environments like Sococo or gather.town encourage socialization and collaboration by using avatars in a game-like setting. You can talk with coworkers, host presentations or workshops, or hold networking events like you would in person.
10. Offer widely-accessible perks
Offering workers perks and incentives for their engagement is a great way to reward this behavior. We recommend creating a rewards catalog where employees can exchange the points they earn for participating in virtual employee engagement activities for a physical or digital reward of their choice, such as:
- Gift cards to common chain stores or apps (Amazon, Starbucks, Uber)
- Company swag
- Coverage of a creative/wellness class (up to a certain amount)
- An experience of their choice (up to a certain amount)
- Donation to a charity of their choice (up to a certain amount)
Note: Perks should be accessible to all remote team members, regardless of location.
11. Use pulse surveys to track remote employee engagement data
You can’t boost employee engagement without good data. Using pulse surveys is one of the easiest ways to measure your virtual employee engagement and improve where needed.
Survey your remote employees to see which virtual employee engagement ideas are making the most significant impact and how engaged they feel. Follow these best practices when creating pulse surveys:
- Make them quick (under five minutes to complete)
- Use yes/no or sliding scale questions
- Only include one long-form response, if needed
- Offer anonymity
Once you’ve collected the completed surveys, acknowledge the employees’ input and share your improvement plan so they know their opinions are heard and valued.
Boost your team’s engagement with Deel Engage
Virtual employee engagement wanes when remote workers feel isolated and disconnected from their peers. But with the right tools, you can help your team build deeper connections and create a more robust company culture.
With Deel Engage, you can access seamless plugins and integrations that help remote teams build a stronger company culture, increase team collaboration, and reduce burnout. Everything from referrals to onboarding, pulse surveys, and much more, we’ve got you covered.
Book a demo today to see Deel in action.