How to spark higher employee engagement in virtual meetings

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, companies all over the world have switched to functioning virtually. Not only is this good for the health of the people within the company, but it also cuts down on the costs of running an in-person company. Maybe you are in a different category altogether, and your company has employees working in the office as well as employees working remotely. Remote work is becoming increasingly popular, but companies must tackle the obstacle of hosting virtual company meetings with employees working away from the office.

Virtual meetings are extremely useful because they allow company employees from potentially all over the world to be gathered in one online call. However, it is very easy to become disengaged during virtual meetings. During a virtual meeting, employees could be anywhere from laying in bed in pajamas to ordering food at a fast-food chain, and with the mute and camera on/off features, there is no way for you to tell how engaged your employees actually are during your meetings. 

recent study shows that 92% of executives in the U.S. say that employees who keep their cameras and microphones off during virtual meetings usually don’t stay with the company for long. Clearly, employee engagement is an important area of concern. 

This article aims to provide some useful tips for increasing employee engagement during virtual meetings. Employee engagement is critical to the company’s success, but the responsibility to spark that engagement lies on the shoulders of the company’s managers. In the words of authors Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfield, “It’s sad, really, how a negative workplace can impact our lives and the way we feel about ourselves. The situation is reaching pandemic heights – most people go to work at jobs they dislike, supervised by people who don’t care about them, and directed by senior leaders who are often clueless about where to take the company.” 

Keep reading to see how to be a leader in your company that promotes high engagement during virtual meetings.

Avoid unnecessary meetings

Nothing acts as a cue for employees to shut off their minds more than unnecessary meetings that could have easily been a company-wide email. 

“By having meetings for the sake of having meetings, you are communicating with your employees that their time does not hold much importance to you,” says Shaunak Amin, CEO and Co-Founder of SnackMagic. “Only have meetings when what needs to be communicated can be best shared through a meeting. This will gain the trust of your employees.” 

When you do have virtual meetings, your employees will know that it will be important to pay attention and stay engaged. Avoiding unnecessary meetings will lead to heightened employee engagement during necessary virtual meetings. 

Recognize employees for their good work

Everyone loves to be recognized when they succeed in something, and this is especially true in the professional setting. A great way to keep employees engaged during virtual meetings is to take a moment at the beginning of each meeting for the employees to recognize one another’s professional achievements. Maybe an employee took on extra projects when someone else called out sick, or perhaps an employee was specifically complimented by a client. 

Encourage employees during virtual meetings by bringing these to everyone’s attention. Tyler Read, who works with Personal Trainer Pioneer as their Founder and Senior Editor says, “Employees appreciate being recognized for what they’ve done, but more than that, they like everyone knowing what they’ve done well. Recognizing employees for their good work also encourages other employees to work hard and remain attentive.” 

Make virtual meetings feel like in-person meetings

A great way to ensure that employees remain engaged throughout the duration of the meeting is to try to simulate in-person meetings. Ensure employees know that their cameras should always be turned on. We would also suggest having their microphones on as well, but sometimes there are outside noises that can be distracting, so that would be up to the company’s judgment.

When there is the expectation that cameras are to remain on, your employees won’t be able to get up for a snack during the middle of the meeting. Rather, employees will be engaged since they know everyone in the meeting can see them.

Use breakout rooms to chat in small groups

Some companies are so large that it can be quite intimidating for an employee to speak up or ask a question during a virtual meeting.

When asked how to increase employee engagement during virtual meetings, Loic Claveau, CMO of TakeUs replied, “One way to overcome this obstacle is to take advantage of breakout rooms, which most virtual meeting platforms have. Breakout rooms allow meeting hosts to divide members into small groups and then reconvene as the whole group. Small breakout groups provide the opportunity for employees to have conversations about what is being discussed in the meeting. Having a voice in the company is crucial in employees feeling like they are a part of the company, thus leading to higher employee engagement.” 

Receive feedback from your employees

Not only will receiving feedback from your employees help them remain engaged during virtual meetings, but it will also lead to improvements in your company overall. Similar to the benefit of dividing into breakout groups during meetings, allowing employees to say what could be improved in the company helps them to feel like they are an integral part of the company. 

“Employees give the best feedback on how to improve a company,” says Adam Bém, the Co-Founder and COO at Victoria VR. “I’ve found that when employees have a say in the direction of the company, they are more eager to remain engaged and involved in the community of the company.” 

With virtual meetings as the new standard operating procedure for many companies, heightening employee engagement has become an obstacle that many are quite familiar with. We hope this article provides you with the tips your company needs to spark higher employee engagement in virtual meetings. 

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