Creating an Equitable Experience for Remote Employee Engagement Programs | August 2023 🌟

Creating an Equitable Experience for Remote Employee Engagement Programs | August 2023 🌟

Every month, Epoch is bringing together Employee Experience and Workplace leaders to share learnings, compare notes, and lean on each other! Scroll down to see key takeaways from the conversation! 

Roundtable topics ✨

3 main questions were the points of discussion for August’s roundtable around the theme of balancing virtual, in-person, and hybrid events and exciting cultural initiatives. 

  1. How to create an equitable experience for remote employee engagement programs?
  2. What are some exciting culture initiatives you’ve introduced to your team recently? 
  3. What tools/resources are teams investing in for the upcoming year? 

Creating an equitable experience for remote employee engagement programs

To foster a sense of connection and engagement among remote employees, various strategies were discussed during the August Employee Experience Roundtable. One suggestion was to organize monthly in-person activities, such as a game-athon or social events like BBQs or bowling to bring teams together. Additionally, the concept of creating company offsites in unique locations was mentioned, where teams would have the opportunity to bond in a different setting, like a campground. 

At one company, to enhance connections among employees in the same proximity, the idea of a "neighborhood" was introduced. These neighbourhood get their own offsites which allow people from different teams to meet. When these neighborhoods were smaller with about 10 people, the EX team would host happy hours for employees to gather in their neighborhoods. Now, as neighborhoods have expanded, this is no longer scalable. So instead, they have interest-based clubs. For example, a dog walking club where employees will get a budget to get a coffee. This ensures that although employees are still working remotely, they feel connected to the company and its community. 

At another company, despite having 33 global offices, a significant portion of employees are completely remote. This often leads to a lack of connection among individuals who don't recognize the opportunities available to them. Oftentimes, these people even live in the same neighborhood but work on different teams. To address this, they have implemented a "Slack directory" into the onboarding process. This directory provides employees with information about the channels they can join and how they can engage in their workplace community. This allows employees to explore available channels and discover opportunities to connect with others who share similar interests or live nearby. Furthermore, the EX team recommends using specific keywords, such as "connect-walk" or "connect-neighborhood," to label channels that aim to foster connections and build communities. 

Exciting EX initiatives that have been introduced 

One company recently introduced an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program, which includes three ERGs: Women in Tech, Black Identity, and Health and Wellness. They are excited to see ERGs grow as their company grows. 

Another company has implemented a Book Swap where team members can exchange books within the same area (which helps to avoid expensive shipping fees and duties). This program involves pairing everyone with a random partner based on their book interests and using an Excel sheet and mail merge to plan the event. The company’s last book swap had 150 people sign up and lots of engagement and chatter. They also have a Book Club channel where people can chat and engage with each other and share photos based on their book interests. 

Another similar idea that was mentioned is a Halloween trick-or-treat exchange where participants can sign up and get treats from different places sent to them. This allows people to receive candy from various places, adding to the excitement and fun of Halloween.

How teams are meeting in-person with the current state of our macroenvironment

For new hires or teams that require extensive collaboration, one company offers on-site onboarding sessions. Additionally, they organize offsite events, such as happy hours or dinners, to foster connections among team members. These offsites, which occur twice a year, provide an opportunity for employees to build relationships and enhance teamwork. While some business aspects and strategies may be discussed during these events, the primary focus is on creating meaningful connections within the team 

Another company understands the importance of creating spaces where employees can come together and collaborate. The company organizes working sessions in breweries or coffee shops, leveraging a partnership that allows them to utilize the brewery’s space before it opens. This partnership not only provides a conducive environment for productive work but also encourages team bonding in a relaxed setting. 

How to ask employees what they want to do

Asking employees what they want to do is a challenge because throwing too many questions at employees can get overwhelming. At one company, they do annual engagement surveys. While these surveys contain a lot of business and management-related questions, there is a dedicated section for what they call “virtual first.”  However, since this survey is long, there are only a few questions dedicated to employee experience. 

Instead, the company implemented a “life in the virtual first” survey. This survey is promoted to be the voice of employees - what they want to see, what they like, what they don't like, etc. To combat survey burnout, the EX team ensures they are actionable on the data they collect. This ensures that employees don’t feel like it is a waste of time and energy, and give valuable feedback. Moreover, the EX team at this company partners with the People Analytics team to ensure they are creating a survey to get the most appointed information that they can take action on. 

Encouraging people to show up for events

To overcome the negative perception of employees leaving their desks to join events, it is crucial to communicate the purpose and benefits of their participation to managers. Instead of framing it as simply skipping work, it is important to emphasize the cultural opportunities and community-building aspects of events. By highlighting how these activities contribute to employee engagement, team collaboration, and a sense of belonging, managers can better understand the value of employees taking part in them. This shift in perspective can help foster a more positive and supportive environment that encourages employees to actively participate in non-desk activities without feeling guilty or judged.

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