Today we are going to be talking about making genuine connections with your virtual team members, and what that really means. Connecting with people virtually goes beyond simply sharing information about each other; it comes from genuine intention to grow relationships, and the genuine presence that comes from that intention.
Increasing Millennial Engagement in Virtual Teams
With Millennials, who are now in their mid 20s to late 30s, compromising such a significant proportion of the workforce, articles have been around for years predicting that it would spark an increase in workplace flexibility with the adoption of remote work.
That’s right. Long before the mass work-from-home shift spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, there was already talk about this wave taking place due to this group of tech-savvy, work-life-balance-craving employees. But for all the talk about it, there was just as much resistance, particularly as this generation got labelled as entitled, disloyal, and most likely to quit, especially in their younger years. Did it make any sense to cave to the whims of a group of employees with high turn-over? Or would it be a strategic retention and engagement tool?
What the COVID-19 pandemic showcased about millennials and remote work
As it stands, now we’re here and it looks like Millennials are faring quite well after all. So well in fact that Millennial workplace engagement has seen an “astonishing, unprecedented spike.” Compared to pre-pandemic levels in2019 where engagement was pegged at an average of 35%, today this generation is sitting at an unbelievable 75%. This data, recently uncovered by Gallup analytics, stems from Millennials who were given an opportunity to work from home since the onset of the pandemic. Gallup’s research also identified another key facet of Millennial engagement: this generation is set up for success when they feel strongly that their manager keeps them informed and well-prepared for work.
Additionally, another recent research endeavor, conducted by Deloitte, found that
“for the first time in four years, more Millennials said they want to stay with their employers for five or more years.”
Key takeaways for engaging your millennial team members
With all this in mind, there are two key takeaways that organizational leaders should take note of:
- Yes, virtual work can absolutely be used to successfully engage and retain your Millennial team members. Millennials value flexibility and trust. Allowing them to do their job in an environment that works for them is seen as a key job perk. It can be used to boost both loyalty and job satisfaction quite successfully, while increasing overall productivity.
- Strategic and mindful communication is essential in order to be a success. This generation craves information, which comes as no surprise given how technology molded their upbringing – they were literally raised in an era where data and connectivity have become more accessible year over year. Feeling informed and well-prepared helps them make confident decisions and provides feelings of stability and security. Adversely, feeling ‘out-of-the-loop’ and not having all the information they need can create feelings of frustrating or disconnect.
If your company embraced virtual work specifically because of COVID-19, these findings present an opportunity to build good-will and improve retention with your workforce post-pandemic. Involve your employees and find out what they think. Some of the questions you can ask include:
- Do you feel connected to the organization?
- Do you generally feel informed about the projects or tasks you’re working on?
- Do you have the information you need to be successful?
- What could be done to improve your experience as a virtual worker?
- How can communication be enhanced within your team?
The feedback you solicit from your employees can help you build a successful model for allowing virtual work as COVID-19 restrictions ease, whether that’s on a permanent basis or as part of a hybrid model that allows workers to stay virtual some days and be in the office on others.
For more resources and support for your virtual team, visit our resources today for a selection of helpful news and insights.
A year ago, I would have had an incredibly difficult time imagining a set of circumstances that would have kept me from a dear friend’s funeral. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when I recently found myself unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. As I mourned this loss in my own way, it also made me pause and reflect on just how much the Coronavirus pandemic is wearing on us emotionally.
American workers spend a lot of time in meetings – an average of 6 hours per week by some estimates, with the total number of weekly meetings across the country as high as 55 million. At the same time, nearly half of all meetings are rated as “poor” by employees, meaning they walk away feeling as though their time has been wasted and little was accomplished. (Verizon)