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Employee Engagement During a Pandemic


August 14, 2020  |  Hassina Obaidy


Maintaining a strong company culture and employee engagement already has its own obstacles. When you throw in a sudden virtual workplace, that creates another set of challenges that people leaders are still trying to figure out.

With COVID-19, we don’t know when we’ll go back to the normal official life. People leaders from small to enterprise companies are figuring out different ways to maintain company culture and keep their employees engaged while remote. Aside from managing your remote teams effectively and ensuring productivity, we also must keep things fun and lighthearted. There are fun, innovative ways to bring the in-office experience into the virtual workspace. It’s not just about turning your webcam on during every meeting or call (although, we must be respectful of an employee’s decision if they want to keep their webcam off). Keeping your employees engaged and encouraging them to participate in smaller activities can make a big impact.

Here are some fun ways to maintain employee engagement. We’ve put together a list of remote activities that might help your company culture create a fun environment. The goal here is to break away from work-related conversations and stressful news topics to ultimately ease the anxiety of our workforce. It’s certainly helped Emtrain and it might help you as well.

Day to Day Employee Engagement

Besides virtual happy hours and talent shows, give your employees something to look forward to on a day-to-day basis. The key here is to engage and entertain your workforce. Consider sending a riddle or joke of the day, ask a nonwork-related question to spark an interesting conversation in the group chat, share a funny story and encourage others to share theirs, or even share what tunes are on their playlist the day. These small conversations with a larger group can replicate and replace the in-office coffee break chats. Start by sharing first, then encourage your employees to do the same.

Interest Chat Groups to Spark Conversations

Encourage employees to create a virtual support system by creating different interest groups where they can exchange thoughts, ideas, and feelings without getting their managers involved. Set the tone, creating the first group in your chat tool, and encourage the rest of the workforce to create their own. At Emtrain, we have a variety of interest groups, such as what inspires us, pet lovers and pet owners, and foodies. This replaces the “small talk” and “breakroom chats” that we are all missing in our physical workspaces.

Virtual Games instead of Virtual Happy Hours

Virtual happy hours started out as a remote viral activity. However, it quickly became tiresome due to video call fatigue. Instead of scheduling a virtual happy hour once a week, consider scheduling it once a month and add an activity, such as Jeopardy or Pictionary. That way, everyone will avoid the awkward silence of “who is going to start talking first?” Remote activities are all about building working relationships and maintaining employee engagement. Make it voluntary, so you don’t put your employees on the spot. Getting your remote employees together is a big way to help alleviate stress as well.

Celebrate Milestones, Birthdays, and Anniversaries

Just because we’re all quarantined inside, doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate. Announcing work anniversaries and birthdays remind everyone that we, as a company, still care and remember. We may not be able to sing Happy Birthday in person, but sending a GIF or video would suffice. Also, we’re all working in the middle of a pandemic, so let’s not forget to celebrate the smaller milestones. Whether it’s a team completing a 6-month project, acquiring a new client, reading a positive review about your product, or getting thousands of blog visits. These milestones are worth celebrating.

For more tips and best practices on sustaining workplace culture and keeping employees engaged during a pandemic, check out the following resources:


covid-19employee engagementremote work

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