By Pamela Pollara | Harkcon's Performance Analyst
In a Virtual Company, every second spent with an employee counts. Due to the barriers of the virtual workplace, companies must be deliberate about how they create a strong company culture that increases employee engagement and motivation. In a brick and mortar company, time is specifically allocated for training, whereas virtual companies must find ways to effectively utilize training time to also communicate and connect to their employees.
These are 5 ways to use training time to engage and motivate virtual employees:
1. Turn on your webcam! Ok so, this is one of the major benefits to working from home…gym clothes, no makeup, bed head. As the trainer, be prepared to at least give your introduction via video chat. This personalized communication will go a long way toward not only making a connection with your employees, but engaging them in your training. Encourage others to do this as well as they feel comfortable. Remember, although your employees work with each other every day, many of them have never met in person!
2. Get to know your audience. Virtual employees often feel isolated. In a typical work environment, employees would naturally form relationships with one another over the course of time. In a virtual environment, there are fewer opportunities to build these relationships. Use training sessions to get to know your employees and allow them to get to know their co-workers. Carve out time prior to the session, during a break or after the session to ask non-work-related questions and encourage off-topic chatter.
3. Recognize employees. As the trainer, you are most likely in a position where you have worked with many of the employees in the session. If not, seek out information, so that you may be able to use real-world scenarios that could be helpful to the group while recognizing employees for their contributions. Remember, we are trying to stay positive here, so be mindful of the choices you make.
4. Recognize contributions. Recognize employee contributions to the session as you normally would, but use the time to also introduce the employee to the group. As you are thanking the employee for his or her input, mention the current project he or she is working on and how long he or she has been with the company, or prompt the contributing employee to add another fun factoid about him or herself!
5. Plan an annual training session/company retreat. A little bit of face time goes a long way. Although virtual companies can do a lot to foster motivation and engagement in employees, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. An annual retreat helps build communication, teamwork, and a strong company culture that employees will take back to the job. Unfortunately, many virtual companies may not be able to afford to foot the bill for the entire company to travel to a company retreat. Consider subsidizing employee costs. Or, if that’s not a possibility, try to arrange mini retreats in areas that are within close proximity to a number of employees. Virtual employees are yearning for this kind of interaction with their companies and co-workers.
Virtual companies must value the interaction they have with employees. Next time you plan your training, remember these 5 tips and make the most out of the experience for you and your virtual employees.
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