For years, employees have been asking for more remote work opportunities. Suddenly, that became the norm as the result of coronavirus.

With that being said, there are, of course, challenges and headwinds with the massive shift to remote work.

One such challenge is keeping remote employees, particularly when there’s a lack of connection and engagement.

The following are some ways to promote employee engagement and also retain your best remote talent.

Use An Intranet

When you’re in an office, there’s an inherent sense of connection, and that’s often lost when employees are working remotely.

You need something to ground employees in the culture and environment of the office, even when they’re not physically there.

An intranet can be a good way to do that. An intranet can be a centralized repository of policies, training and onboarding materials, and project management. It’s a place where announcements can be made to keep everyone on the same page.

It does become like a virtual office, and you can brand it accordingly, in line with your company culture.

An intranet gives remote employees a single place they can check-in each day as if they were physically walking into the office.

Recognize Employees

It’s easy for employee recognition to slip through the cracks when everyone is working remotely, or you may be operating under the misconception that employee recognition doesn’t matter in a remote environment.

It does.

In numerous surveys, employees have reported one of the biggest reasons they leave their employer is because they don’t feel like they’re being recognized and appreciated.

Make recognition part of your day-to-day management strategy, even when you’re leading remote teams.

Offer Opportunities for Development and Advancement

Along with recognizing employees’ good work, it’s also important that just as you would if they were in-person, you offer opportunities for learning and development and ultimately, advancement.

When an employee feels stagnant, they’re more likely to leave for other opportunities.

Consider offering mentorships for your top-performing employees so you can be sure they stay on a development path.

Make it clear to employees that you believe in them, and you’re investing time and resources into their careers as a result.

If an employee feels like there’s no room for growth in their position, remote or otherwise, they’re likely to move on.

Provide Unique Benefits

Just because employees are working remotely, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be offered benefits and perks that would come with working in-person.

For example, health and wellness are on a lot of people’s minds right now.

Create a wellness program or a friendly competition to encourage employees to stay active.

You could also cover the costs of a virtual fitness membership or a mindfulness and meditation app.

Create Opportunities for Casual Conversations

Not every bit of communication that occurs between remote teams needs to be formal and work-related.

Offer the chance to participate in virtual get-togethers, but don’t make them mandatory. Have casual check-in conversations with employees on a regular basis, and don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun from time-to-time.

Check-In

A lot of people are feeling disconnected and isolated right now.

It’s a tough time for many people, but if you could take the time to check in with remote employees, it will keep them feeling connected to the workplace, and it can help reduce turnover and increase engagement.

Ask them if they’re facing any challenges that you may be able to help with and if they have any feedback for you as a manager.

Have Clear Expectations and Guidelines

Just as is the case in a traditional office environment, employees who feel overworked or feel like they’re part of a toxic culture are more likely to leave the organization.

In remote work environments, these feelings might stem from employees feeling like they always have to be available.

Create guidelines with communication expectations. For example, make it clear that employees are not expected to respond to calls or emails after work hours.

You can also have guidelines for communication urgency.

Let employees know when they should try to respond to an email right away, versus when it can wait.

Just because employees are working from home, it doesn’t mean they’re working 24/7.

Everyone in the organization should be on the same page regarding expectations and boundaries to improve retention.

Retention during a crisis is tough but manageable. Using the tips above can help you stay connected with your remote employees, improving the likelihood they stay with you.