HR Tech Trends Around Remote Employee Engagement

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Nov 5, 2021
This article is part of a series called Remote Work.

“What is a new HR technology trend you are seeing around remote employee engagement?”

A variety of HR leaders and HR tech representatives weigh in to answer that question. From the rise of video communication to the adoption of conversational AI recruiting assistants, here’s what talent pros say is happening with tech in relation to remote employee engagement:

Employee Engagement Software Engages a Remote Workforce

Keeping employees engaged is difficult enough when they’re sitting across the hall from you. When they’re sitting in their home office with only a thin wood door between them and a sofa plopped in front of a Netflix-enabled TV, it’s even harder. 

Some employee engagement software bundles employee recognition, management, rewards, and engagement surveys all in one package. This means you can keep engagement high using recognition of achievements (along with rewards) as well as getting employee feedback. Using this feedback, you can continue to tweak the system to get the optimum mix of reward and recognition for maximum engagement. — Phil Strazzulla, CEO, Select Software Reviews

Responsive Development

We are leveraging new technology and LMS capabilities to be able to provide guidance, coaching, and situational-based learning more quickly to leadership and staff. New screen-record technology makes it possible for us to quickly create a short development video, embed the video directly into an email, and track consumption of the content. 

Pairing with learning technologies that do not require traditional module packaging, we can also integrate this video content into libraries and learning series in real-time. Life is moving fast, we have to keep up! — Stacie Mallen, VP, HR Centers of Excellence, Universal Technical Institute

Video Messaging for the Win

Engaging employees remotely is definitely more challenging than it is in-person. So, you have to create a structure around this and consistently come up with new ideas to change it up. 

For example, while we’ve been working virtually, our CEO has been sending weekly update videos every Sunday night where he talks about what happened the previous week, what’s coming up the next week, what’s going great, what new hires are joining this week, and shoutouts to specific employees.

Another thing is walk and talks, where our CEO sends out a scheduler link and people can book a time on his calendar during lunch where they can hop on a call with no agenda and just talk about whatever they want to talk about. It’s a really great way for employees to get to know the leadership team and ask any lingering questions, and for our leaders to get to know employees better. — Megan Zolnierowicz, Director of Marketing, Spark Hire

Pairing Common Platforms With Other Tech

Video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have enjoyed immense popularity for good reason; they’re often easy to use and offer beneficial functionality. The problem comes when the bells and whistles of any platform become less novel to users who grow less engaged as a result. 

I have had great success pairing platforms like those mentioned above with solutions like OBS Studio, Ecamm Live, Stream Deck, and other technologies (both free and paid) that add unexpected features and capabilities to the mix. They allow you to pull in exciting design elements, additional cameras, and so much more, often with the touch of a physical button. Suddenly, that fatigue that everyone is talking about starts to subside and remote teams become re-engaged. — Erich Kurschat, Owner, Harmony Insights, LLC

Automating HR Operations Whenever Possible

Remote workplaces are realizing that HR should not focus on “tracking” or “managing” employees. It should be all about making people feel comfortable in the company. 

There are many tools available for any purpose and budget to make the HR operations more efficient and pleasant. Automation makes possible features like personalized onboarding flows, celebrating important milestones, hobby groups, and a company news feed. Every employee can access their personalized holiday calendar, working timeline, payroll hub, and our employee directory. 

Also, with remote work and flexible working hours, HR automation is a great solution to accommodate everybody’s needs. We see that our employees value the easy and fast processes we’ve implemented, and it makes us, the HR department, very happy. — Ewelina Melon, Head of People & Culture, Tidio

Integrating Mental Health Into Chatbots

There is a very real and genuine concern for employee wellbeing and health. Employers have redesigned wellness programs to incentivize healthy eating and exercise habits and are offering extremely lucrative benefits. 

From a month’s extra salary to participating in lucky draws to win thousands of bucks, organizations are going all-out to nudge employees to look after themselves. Many have integrated the services of mental health professionals into their office chatbots. Others are encouraging the use of fitness bands and apps to keep track of health goals. There is a realization among leadership that engagement must prioritise wellness first, and companies are using technology to support their teams through tough times. — Joe Flanagan, Senior Career Advisor, VelvetJobs

Virtual Event Platforms

As remote work becomes a more permanent fixture, more HR professionals are beginning to move from Zoom to more robust virtual event platforms like Hopin and Hubilo. These programs make it easy to engage large groups of current employees at events like remote retreats, virtual parties, and online team outings. The platforms can also facilitate virtual recruitment and hiring fairs. 

Many of the programs have features such as small-group video rooms and digital loungers, 1:1 virtual conferencing, networking, and gamification functions like polls, Q&A’s, and challenges. The software can even handle logistical functions —  for instance, sending care packages or swag to virtual employees. These online platforms offer a way to elevate virtual events beyond standard Zoom meetings and make the gatherings more exciting for attendees. — Michael Alexis, CEO, TeamBuilding

Conversational AI Recruiting Assistants

Employee engagement decreases with increases in friction and frustrating processes that don’t work as well in a remote environment. Take hiring for example. Interview cancellations, candidate no-shows, and communicating with applicants can significantly slow down an organization from HR all the way to the C-Suite. 

We’re seeing organizations ranging from hospital networks to retailers adopt a conversational AI recruiting assistant to save their teams countless hours by automating recruiting tasks. By removing the friction from an internal recruiting process, many companies we’ve worked with have reported an increased level of satisfaction from employees both in and outside of a talent acquisition team. — Josh Zywien, CMO, Paradox

Perhaps the Solution for Engagement Isn’t Technology?

When it comes to engaging your remote workforce, the best technology solution might be no technology at all. 

The Gallup organization has been a leading voice in the employee-engagement space since the launch of their Q12 survey in 1996. Two of the 12 statements in their survey are laser-focused on the importance of personal relationships at work. As more and more people are working remotely, what are you doing to help foster personal connections? 

The answer may lie in getting back to the basics. Carving out intentional time for your team members to connect on non-work related topics is a step in the right direction. 

Technology is a beautiful thing, but if it starts to become a surrogate for real human connection, engagement is likely to suffer. — Brian Mohr, Co-Founder, anthym

This article is part of a series called Remote Work.
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