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Employee Engagement in Times of Uncertainty

The onset of Covid-19 has unleashed ambiguity and panic all across India Inc. It is true that the world has undergone several periods of uncertainty in the past few decades. However, the scale and scope that we are witnessing currently is something beyond anyone’s imagination. As each aspect of business is undergoing tremendous transformation, it is the employee that is facing the brunt of it all. The conventional approach to deal with uncertainty is to keep employee morale high with numerous employee engagement activities. 

However, with the workforce becoming completely remote, employee engagement is itself undergoing transformation. We can no longer huddle around for a quick boost of motivation, or go out for a team lunch. Thus, organizations are reinventing the employee engagement playbook to take a fresh attempt at meaningfully engaging their workforce that has recently gone remote.

Engagement in Times of Uncertainty: A Prerequisite for Performance

Employee engagement is an important tool even under normal circumstances to reduce attrition and boost morale and productivity. However, its instrumentality has increased exponentially with the onset of these unprecedented times. As employees are working from home, their levels of stress, anxiety and a loss in sense of direction is on the rise due to ambiguity in job security, salary cuts among others. Therefore, the only possible tool for India Inc to deal with such a situation is to double down on its focus on employee engagement. It is very important that employees routinely get a sense of reassurance to keep their spirits high. Additionally, employee engagement can also boost team collaboration, which is a challenge with a remote workforce. The more engaged the workforce is, the easier and seamless will be the collaboration across verticals, leading to higher productivity. 

Challenges to Remote Employee Engagement

There is no doubt about the fact that employee engagement for the remote workforce is an organizational imperative under current circumstances. However, there are numerous challenges that prevent its seamless integration into the normal business course. To begin with, more than half of India Inc found itself unprepared when the lockdown struck. Therefore, organizations did not have time to actually strategize their approach to remote employee engagement. Under normal circumstances, it is relatively easy to judge the pulse of employee morale by interacting with them and reading their expressions and level of motivation. However, when the workforce is remote, it becomes quite difficult to understand the pulse of motivation, which comes in the way of effective planning. Despite challenges along the way, organizations are effectively spearheading remote employee engagement. The subsequent section will illustrate some of the best practices.

Remote Employee Engagement: Best Practices

Focus on remote employee engagement is the only way to ensure employee productivity, well-being and most importantly, employee happiness. Definitely, most organizations need to give their employee engagement strategy a fresh eye to address the fresh challenges. Here are a few strategies that can be a robust starting point. 

Remote social interaction

One of the top reasons to promote employee engagement is to boost interaction between employees whose worlds won’t collide in the general business line. Under remote circumstances, this poses a peculiar challenge. Nevertheless, organizations are promoting remote social interaction to mitigate the same. Be it virtual coffee breaks or video conferencing with team members you don’t directly work with, there are several ways to achieve the same. The objective is to encourage employees to interact with one another beyond simple work discussions to ensure a social connect. This also allows employees to share their concerns and worries about the mounting ambiguity with another human who may be going through something similar. 

Virtual team building activities

While remote interaction is good for 1-o-1 engagement or for smaller groups, virtual team building activities can accelerate large group engagement. For instance, group games like pictionary, or ludo or quizzes can be an effective way to get your employees to relax and loosen up a bit. At the same time, virtual celebrations and recognition can also create impact. The way organizations have cake cutting and other celebrations, the same can go digital. You have a quick video call to wish the employee together and maybe send in a gift card or a simple birthday greeting in the mail. This will keep the spirits up and definitely boost employee mood.  

Understand the psychological wants 

Next in line to boost remote employee engagement is to adopt technological tools that can undertake psychological assessments for employees. The mental well-being and psychological status of each employee in an uncertain situation is different. This also calls for customized employee engagement practices. It is, therefore, important for organizations to understand the pulse of each employee and undertake activities accordingly. Having a blanket approach might work in the conventional setting. However, the recent times, and especially the shift to a remote work culture, prompts the need for understanding individual engagement expectations. A blind adoption of best practices for remote employee engagement will yield half baked results. In fact, this would be an ideal time for organizations to incorporate psychological assessment as a part of their employee engagement strategy, even for the normal course of business. 

Keep your communication game strong

Finally, it is very important to keep all channels of communication open for your employees. While communication within specific teams is important, it is also vital that employees apprised of the latest developments across the organization. This will boost employee belief and trust in the leadership and management. Constant communication through calls, regular circulation of newsletters, etc. will serve as a reassurance to the employees and keep their morale high. 


As we draw this discussion to a close, one point that stands out is the importance of remote employee engagement in times of uncertainty. Organizations need to take cognizance of the fact that since employees and not together in person, engagement will play an even bigger role to keep the spirits up. Unless organizations reinvent their approach, they stand at the risk of losing productivity as well as high employee turnover. In the face of rising uncertainty, and lack of reassurance, employees are bound to look out elsewhere. Therefore, remote employee engagement is the only way for organizations to retain their productive workforce and fuel in solidarity and team strength.  

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