Alyssa Swantkoski explains how administrative professionals can assist with employee engagement in a remote workforce
Beyond the standard job descriptions for Administrative Assistants, Executive Assistants, and Chief of Staff is the unspoken responsibility to engage employees within an organization. Often, professionals in these roles serve as unsung heroes and cultural ambassadors in the sense that they strive to achieve and maintain positive work cultures in an unofficial capacity. These team members model the organization’s core values and bridge the gap between leadership and employees while keeping a pulse on the culture.
Traditionally, company culture and employee engagement take the forms of things like after-hour activities with teammates, kitchens stocked full of snacks, recognition of personal and professional milestones and other additional “perks”. Many employee engagement strategies involve employees being together in an office or other in-person shared space. As the corporate workforce undergoes a remodel in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, adapting employee engagement strategies to support a remote workforce will help businesses retain their staff.
In the coming years, Executives can and must lean on their Administrative Professionals to walk through this transition together. Here are five tips for Assistants serving as cultural ambassadors and striving to support their leaders in engaging a remote workforce.
1. Consider swapping after-work happy hours for other remote-friendly events
While happy hours, sporting events, and other fun in-person activities can promote team building, consider swapping these types of events for virtual ones in which employees can connect and have conversations much as they would in person. While virtual happy hours can be fun, the conversational experience that takes place during an in-person happy hour may feel like chaos and noise through a speaker. Suggest different types of virtual events such as book clubs, spirit weeks, movie-watching parties, and craft nights that give employees a chance to unwind and have non-work-related conversations while accommodating the environment and technological capabilities.
2. Help Executives recognize employees in a more meaningful way
In an office setting, recognition may have looked like shoutouts during all-staff meetings, exchanging kind words in the hallways, or treats left on desks in offices. Recognition from leadership and peer-to-peer celebrations are still possible outside of the office setting. Get creative! Handwritten cards, e-card recognition systems, surprise treats, shoutouts on chat apps, and perks like gift cards can go a long way. Work with your leaders to reallocate budgets and coordinate a method of recognition suitable for your culture and workforce.
3. Proactively draft communications for your leaders to distribute
Communicating to an organization while dispersed can be challenging. To help avoid communication issues, draft emails, memos, slides, and other documentation on behalf of your leaders. Proactively translating the thoughts of Executives into easy to understand and effective communications for the organization is a gamechanger in keeping employees engaged remotely. Help provide transparent and consistent communication.
4. Schedule and lead wellness activities
Without commuting to the office, shuffling between meetings, stepping out for lunch breaks, and other engagements that encourage movement in an office setting, physical and mental wellbeing can suffer. While encouraging employees to enjoy physical activity and take mental breaks throughout the day is useful, scheduling time for wellness as a team or organization provides the time and space for employees to commit to their own wellbeing. With a wide array of free, physical workouts on the internet, talk to your leadership team about facilitating a virtual workout session. Additionally, for example, ask if you can send out reminders or calendar invites to the team for 10-minute meditative mental breaks with no screen time.
5. Use your unique position to voice concerns on behalf of other employees
Serving alongside Executives is a unique, incomparable opportunity for most Administrative Professionals. Often, Administrative Professionals also have close relationships with other employees throughout the organization. Strategically voicing concerns that employees are sharing at the peer-to-peer level can help Executives respond to unspoken issues. Without in-person interactions in an office setting, Executives may be unaware of issues that employees are discussing at the peer level. Administrative Professionals can serve as an ear to the ground while simultaneously respecting their colleagues and friendships.
Whether in-person at the office or dispersed amongst various remote locations, Administrative Professionals play a large role in cultivating a positive work environment, recognizing and rewarding their colleagues, and bridging the communication gap from the top down.