Paula Darch 25 October 2022 8 min read

Keeping employees engaged from a distance

Employee engagement is worryingly low with Gallup’s 2022 Global Workplace Report finding that engagement levels in the UK are among the worst in Europe with just 9 percent of the UK workers surveyed feeling enthused by their work and workplace in 2022 - well below the European average of 14 percent and the Global average of 21 percent. And with organisations experiencing mass redundancies in the first half of 2022, this is symptomatic of poor engagement as employers fail to create organisational cultures that are both attractive and ‘sticky’.

To keep people enthusiastic about their work and connected to the company and their colleagues in the age of flexible working, organisations must prioritise their digital employee experience (DEX). As John Nicklin, MD of Sorce explains, this is the very foundation of hybrid working, helping to keep engagement levels high - even at a distance.

Create an engaging virtual employee experience

When employees spend fewer days in the office, they have less opportunity to be immersed in the company culture and build relationships with both managers and colleagues. Leaders must therefore understand that what can’t so easily be achieved face-to-face, must be taken online, creating an engaging virtual office environment to complement the real world employee experience (EX).

Here are some key steps to making the DEX a success:

Speak to colleagues to understand what is and isn’t working with the EX – It’s important to take a step back and evaluate why engagement levels may not be where they should be. As part of this, employees must be asked how they feel and what they think, covering off key areas such as leadership, wellbeing, inclusivity, company purpose, appreciation, resources and development opportunities. Do they feel inspired by the company’s vision and values? Do they feel as supported working from home as they do when in the office? Do they feel a sense of belonging? Do their managers regularly check in on them when homeworking? Do they have all the tools they need to work productively from home? Do they feel valued and appreciated? and so on. By understanding the status quo, this is the first step towards positive change.

Clarify what’s wanted from the DEX – Once it’s clear what is and isn’t working, a DEX strategy needs to be created that’s an extension of the company’s real world office experience so that everyone feels informed, included and inspired, regardless of where they’re working from. This strategy must focus on the online experience leaders want its people to have, and then work backwards to figure out how to achieve this end goal. For instance, if the experience needs to be inclusive with everyone having access to information at any time and from anywhere, this requires DEX technology that’s mobile-enabled.

Ensure a central IT platform is at the heart of the strategy – A great online experience can’t be achieved when employees have to log in and out of multiple IT apps. There must be an online platform, such as a modern intranet, that is at the core of the DEX, with other systems integrated into it. This streamlines the entire online experience.

Focus on creating a community – Research is telling us again and again that employees need to feel that they’re part of an inclusive and supportive community. This is how organisations achieve high levels of engagement. So the DEX strategy must concentrate on how to achieve this digitally, such as by delivering quick and easy ways for employees to collaborate, connect with one another and voice their opinions. Modern intranets have advanced social functionality that allow people to provide feedback, add comments and blog about topics important to them. Such functionality is an imperative in today’s hybrid world.

Strengthen the employer brand – For people to feel part of a thriving organisational culture, they need to understand, and constantly be reminded of what the company stands for. The DEX strategy must reinforce the company’s values, its purpose and everything the company holds dear. From ensuring the ‘digital office’ is branded correctly through to using it as a platform for celebrating the company’s charitable endeavours and employee achievements, the same level of attention must be paid to how the company is represented internally as it is externally.

Engagement needs to be nurtured and not forced

You can’t force an employee to engage with their employer, they need to decide it’s worth their time and energy. And if they feel frustrated by their online experience, excluded from information and decisions, and disconnected from leaders and colleagues, then disengagement will quickly set in. Leaders must therefore recognise the crucial role the DEX plays in keeping hybrid workers engaged and fulfilled in their role. It must be designed with purpose, streamlined and focused on strengthening that all-important sense of community. By achieving this, employees are more inclined to stick around and try to make a difference.


Paula Darch

Paula is our marketing whizz and is passionate about intranet engagement and getting the most out of your intranet software.