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According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. voluntary job abandonment rate at the end of May 2022 was 25% higher than before the pandemic.

This is not a new phenomenon. Are some of your employees focused only on their tasks? Do they rarely want to take the initiative or help their colleagues? When deadlines pass, do they say, “That’s not my fault!”

Remote employees often don’t feel attached to workplace culture. They can consider their workplace to be toxic. While trying to boost remote employee engagement, employers sometimes engage in “stalking” tactics. For instance, they observe whether employees always have a green light on their Slack during work hours. They may monitor employees’ screen time or count the hours spent on a laptop. Even worse, they can scan clicks per minute.

Instead, they should be empowering their remote workforce.

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ASQ defines employee empowerment as: “How organizations provide their employees with a certain degree of autonomy and control in their day-to-day activities. This can include engaging in process improvement, supporting the creation and management of new systems and tactics, and managing small departments with less senior management oversight.”

Use time-measured goals

If not measuring a worker’s time spent at work, monitoring if they are online, and asking to submit reports on what they are working on, then what? Measure their achievement and how they are meeting their objectives on a daily basis.

It is essential to make this measure transparent, time-limited, and visible throughout organizations. There are four main principles to create a bias for independent actions.

First, team members must be supported in setting up their daily processes and developing strategies to achieve their goals.

For that purpose, you may hold regular meetings with remote employees. 

And when new employees are onboarded, talk with them and set goals for the next three months. For example, you might establish a $40,000 new MMR plan for a sales manager for the next three months. Make sure not to limit the employee in achieving that goal. Let them build their tactics and strategies and collaborate with any department that they need to, to achieve the goal.

For a customer-facing role, I like the results measurement that GitLab uses: identifying customers’ OKRs and KPIs, and measuring a variety of end-user performance metrics

Setting long-term goals will provide employees with a clear understanding of what you are expecting from them, and at the same time, you will be able to monitor their performance in a less toxic way.  

Empower employees to take independent actions and decisions. Don’t set limits on creativity. Remove hurdles and red tape. Set a time frame for reaching specific goals and create an enabling environment.

Create one knowledge source

The second principle is inseparably linked to the first. Actions and new tactics must be informed to be empowered to work with a bias toward independence. To accomplish that, create one corporate knowledge source — a corporate Academy or University. Also, set up a platform to track employees’ performance and task completion and encourage them to create a dashboard with their tasks and deadlines.

  1. Ensure that all employees working remotely and scattered in different countries use the same knowledge and task source.
  2. Ask them to change the status when they start working on an assignment and when it is completed.
  3. Ask employees to write down the ideas and strategies they want to implement in a task planner so everyone can see where the current task is, and who’s involved.

Also, manage the knowledge source so that employees can receive answers when they have questions. Plan for the unexpected, and prepare younger employees by empowering them to use extreme ownership.

For example, a customer contacts your technical support with a question. The employee handling the call is still a novice and needs to learn how to help them. Instead of Googling or postponing the problem to better times, they go to a corporate university and quickly find answers. Also, encourage employees to ask questions. Provide employees with links to thematic forums and contacts with their senior colleagues. Show that senior employees are always there, and happy to answer questions. 

Use ROIs

Once you’ve empowered the team with the bias toward independent tactics and strategy creation, start encouraging independent learning. Cultivate a focus on iteration. To track the efficiency of learning programs, use ROIs in training to measure whether a course or program offers value for the money. Plan how you will evaluate, whom to involve, the success criteria and how long it will take. Also, ask questions like, what are the desired outcomes? What is the current state? What changes have taken place that aided long-term change in learners?

Encourage real-time achievements sharing

Finally, consider the tactics you have in place for executing goals. I don’t monitor employees’ work screens in my company. Instead, I watch how they are moving toward their goals.

Ask them what they think are the best ways to achieve their goals. What do they do if something doesn’t work?

For example, at my company, we have a monthly meeting where all departments share their results. When all members show their presentations and talk about leads and new clients, remote employees feel a team spirit. 

Also, we have a Slack chat where employees share their goals for the current three months and what they have done in the past week to achieve those.

Your employees’ results are what really matter. Let’s stop monitoring remote employees’ engagement on Slack or comparing it to clicks they’ve made per day. Instead, let’s focus on results by setting the right goals measured in time, creating team spirit, and implementing learning measures. That’s what we can call empowering employees.

Vladimir Polo is CEO and founder of AcademyOcean.

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