6 Employee Engagement Strategies for Remote and Introverted Workers
Aakash Gupta is the Founder and Lead writer for Sorry, I was On Mute. He brings to the table over 5 years of marketing and lead generation experience, and has previously been published on well-ranked business management and project management sites. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
What made us write about employee engagement strategies? Most of us are getting used to the idea of working from home permanently. This would come as good news to introverts, given their preference for solitude and quiet over crowds and noisy places.
Introverted employees are the ones who prefer to do more of the listening than talking in discussions. Due to this supposed passivity, they are often mistaken to be anti-social and the first to lose interest and disconnect from work. But did you know that nearly 56.8% of respondents surveyed in a Myers-Brigg Type Indicator test were found to be introverted? Introversion is present even in leadership, with 39% and 28% of the workforce in the U.S and the U.K respectively claiming to be introverts!
The point being, that we should not judge in haste. Introverts are just as hard working, and creative when absorbed in work. And this is why it is important to build a rapport with them.
World Introvert Day is celebrated on January 2, so in honor of the introverts we know, here are 6 engagement strategies managers can use to know their remote, introverted workers better!
Who is an Introvert Employee?
Before going into who an introvert employee is, let’s first tell you who they are not. Introversion is not the same as social anxiety, awkwardness or shyness. We tend to club people as either extroverted or introverted. But the truth is that most of us are a bit of both situationally. Introversion is not an external ambassador of one’s actual capabilities and competence.
Introverted employees aren’t usually quiet but are more reserved and soft-spoken. They prefer to work solo or in smaller, tightly-knit groups so that they can take time to get acquainted with their teammates. Introvert employees examine their actions and think carefully before acting. While extroverts bounce off the energy from social interactions, introverts are more content in a reclusive environment. They tend to want to recharge after their fill of socializing.
Employee Engagement Strategies and tips for engaging remote employees
The more you interact with people, the better you’ll be at recognizing a pattern. The same is true of remote and distributed coworkers. Be it a formal discussion or casual conversation, participants respond and react differently. You’ll notice that some offer inputs and insights only when prompted in comparison to the more outspoken colleagues who initiate topics, moderate discussions and come up with suggestions more easily.
Introverts aren’t as expressive as their extroverted coworkers, and therefore are more likely to be overlooked. As a result, you’ll risk some of your best employees struggling to establish their presence, despite being visible. Here are 6 employee engagement strategies to prevent this from happening:
1. Turn to social cues
Most in-office team building activities default to extraversion in order to involve and include everyone. As crucial as it is to recreate such activities when working remotely, it is imperative that these exercises challenge your employees without overwhelming them. Observe the social cues caught on camera, i.e. the individual’s facial, visual and verbal expressions. You can even record your meetings to replay them later.
What you watch will give you a better understanding of how people seem in meetings. Do they all participate uniformly and consistently? Does everyone get a fair turn in giving inputs and feedback? Is there any person who prefers taking a backseat in discussion but is otherwise a diligent worker? Chances are you have already identified the introverts, and now have the opportunity to reassess virtual group games. You can modify digital team building activities to utilize their potential.
2. Schedule private discussions
The idea of speaking in front of a large gathering with eyes on them can make introvert employees more self-conscious. Instead, schedule private discussions one-to-one to give
and receive feedback.
Introverts are far more likely to bring in their experiential perspective when they’re relaxed. Being able to speak in private makes them more comfortable and enables them to stay focused on the topic of discussion. Making time for one on ones can help you get up to speed with the work they have been on, progress made, and targets met. You’ll even get a fresh perspective, ideas for innovation or an altogether new approach, demonstrating theircompetence. Such interactions help you assess their contribution to the organization and impact on the team. Consequently, you can appraise their performance objectively.
3. Don’t spring surprises
Whether it is criticism or appreciation, the one thing introverts hate, is being put on the spot. If discussions get heated or disagreements arise on how things should be done, it can deter introverted employees from expressing what they feel or think. In such cases, leveraging anonymous voting will help every voice get heard.
You can use digital surveys or online meeting tools to help remote employees decide and vote on whether an idea should be tabled, or explored further. Such surveys also let you in on what tasks, functions and activities introverts enjoy.
4. Praise in writing
Employee recognition and rewards not only establish goodwill down the line, but also win loyalty. Praise also prevents employees from burning out. In the case of introvert employees, giving this praise in writing is a record of the communication efforts you’re making to engage with them. It helps them know that their performance is not going unnoticed and motivates them to keep doing a good job.
Putting your thoughts into writing also brings to attention the things they’re getting right, as well as those areas that could use improvement. This feedback can help them grow professionally.
5. Phase out team building
As important as it is for introverts to integrate and co-exist in groups, don’t thrust them into team participation. Let them grow into it by getting to pick their level of involvement. Giving them the freedom to control their participation in group activities helps them overcome any anxiety they’re feeling internally.
You can start with online puzzles that make use of logic and reasoning and build it up phase by phase. It also gives them context as to what the activity’s goals and expected outcomes are, which enable them to put the required efforts to participate.
6. Discover shared interests
Everyone needs a friend at work to look out for them, and to confide in. But how they make these friends are determined by the extent of introversion and extroversion that resides within. Facilitate private chats and public discussion threads on remote collaboration tools such as Slack,Notion or Samepage. Employees can initiate a topic, request for help or respond to threads of interest, helping them discover more about the people they work with.
Private chats or coffee runs with coworkers cultivate a rapport between any two coworkers. And this pool can expand gradually to accommodate more members with shared interests. This way, no one is unintentionally left out of watercooler conversations. From here, remote employees can even organize social potluck hours, Karaoke bars, or a friendly rivalry with an online game (such as fantasy football) to show their fun side sans the social pressure!
The bottomline for engaging remote, introverted employees
The typical workforce comes in all shades of introversion and extraversion. The employee engagement strategies, however, lean towards extroversion. The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to engage your team. While extroverts are fine being the center of attention, introverts need their own space and time to recharge. And it is this feature that sets them apart.
If you wish to remain truly inclusive, explore employee engagement strategies and options for engaging remote employees that enable both introverts and extroverts to shine. With these tips to engage remote and introverted employees, you’ll understand their underlying nature and be witness to what helps them play to their strengths!