The following article was originally published online by Forbes Boston Business Council.
Managing global employee engagement is especially critical for multicultural teams. However, most employees worldwide struggle to feel engaged with their work.
Handling a geographically dispersed team is challenging and may seem overwhelming. However, most humans have the same fundamental needs. A positive company culture leads to happier, more productive employees. A few valuable practices can help you overcome cultural or geographic barriers, vastly improving employee experience and engagement.
Differences between engaged and disengaged workers
Productivity primarily depends on global employee job satisfaction, which impacts motivation. Actively engaged employees are loyal and productive. They understand their job responsibilities, are passionate about their work, and have a positive attitude. They often go above the minimum requirements, strive to find solutions, and demonstrate a passion for learning and developing their skills. These employees are team players, willing to encourage others, give credit where it’s due, and accept blame.
In contrast to the most engaged team members, disengaged employees often do the bare minimum because they struggle to feel a connection to their work. They typically have a negative, selfish attitude and focus on the work’s monetary value rather than professional development. Employees may struggle with engagement if they begin isolating themselves from company events, which is a particular pitfall for global remote teams. Increasing global employee involvement can help your teams become more willing to work with others.
What poorly engaged workers cost global companies
According to Gallup, employee engagement was only at 20% in 2020, resulting in a global loss of about $7 trillion in productivity. However, employees who are happy with their jobs are 13% more productive. If your workers are unhappy, their motivation will suffer, decreasing productivity. Ultimately, this equates to lost revenue for your company.
Disengaged team members are typically more stressed than their engaged co-workers. Stress contributes to a higher employee turnover rate, costing your company more money. Retaining your current workforce is less expensive than hiring a new employee. Recruitment, onboarding, training and benefits for new hires will cost your company more if your employees move to another company.
Because unmotivated employees are less willing to work with the rest of your team, they also may discourage others at your company. When team members are passionate about their work, they lift up others around them, contributing to a company culture built on positivity. If your employees feel they don’t receive fair pay, lack a connection with co-workers, and perceive their work as purposeless, they may be holding your company back.
How employee engagement varies around the globe
Considering how employee engagement varies in different regions is especially crucial for companies managing international teams. Gallup reports that global employee engagement rose in the U.S., Canada, and Eastern Europe in 2020. However, engagement remained low in Western Europe, with 89% of employees struggling to get involved. Latin America experienced the most significant decrease in employee engagement.
Here’s how employee engagement differs in various regions.
- U.S. and Canada: Employees in the U.S. and Canada experience higher daily stress and negative emotions than other regions. However, North America also had the highest global employee engagement levels due to increased communication with managers and receiving valuable feedback.
- Europe: Employee engagement in Europe has hardly fluctuated over the last decade. Though managers are a critical factor when determining engagement, 60% of managers in Germany reported they lack the training to improve their people management skills.
- Latin America: A shrinking economy in nearly every Latin American country reflected decreased employee engagement, as many teams lacked the resources to switch to remote work.
- Asia: Rates of thriving well-being are lower in Asia than the worldwide averages. Because engagement and well-being impact each other, companies employing workers in Asia should focus on increasing both.
Ways to increase global employee engagement
Employee engagement is instrumental to a company’s success. Therefore, it’s vital to understand effective workplace communication to maximize global employee involvement with your company culture.
The rule of seven, one of the oldest concepts in marketing, says that a prospect needs to see or hear your message at least seven times before they act. To positively impact your employees, apply the rule of seven to your global workforce. Though you may need to repeat your message several times to remind team members to act, avoid micromanaging teams. Micromanagement stresses employees and wastes time by diverting managers’ attention from more critical tasks. Trusting team members rather than constantly asking for status updates will increase employee retention by improving job satisfaction.
Setting clear communication expectations will increase global employee engagement, boost productivity, and prevent micromanaging. International teams communicate either via synchronous or asynchronous communication. One example of synchronous, real-time communication is video chats. Asynchronous communications, like emails, typically result in a slightly delayed response. Outline which platforms you’re going to use for different types of correspondence. You’ll save time by ensuring all team members understand which situations warrant using various tools.
Include regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings in your communications policy. Remote global employees may feel less connected to the rest of the team. Holding regular evaluations, check-in sessions, and virtual social activities can make international teams feel like a valued part of your company. Meetings allow managers to give and receive feedback and ensure team members are reaching their goals.
Share and repeat company news internally via emails, hold monthly meetings your entire team attends, and send company newsletters. You can even supplement newsletters with an internal podcast about company updates and different team members. However, daily correspondences should be direct, clear, and easily repeatable. If you include too much in one communication, audiences may become overwhelmed, and your main message may get lost.
2. Video on, always
In the 1970s, psychology professor Albert Mehrabian deduced that communication is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% verbal. That’s crucial information for people who rely on the written word to communicate, but it’s even more valuable when you’re working with someone with a different first language. Companies with employees in separate offices — sometimes spanning various continents — may speak dozens of languages. Video captures unspoken communications, giving you a complete picture of how global teams are doing.
Whether an employee works at one of your primary office locations or remotely, provide all staff with videoconferencing capabilities so every meeting can happen face to face. Video increases global employee engagement by enabling team members to connect regularly and effectively regardless of location. You can also supplement synchronous meetings with an asynchronous video series for employees to get to know their co-workers. These videos help team members get to know each other’s personalities — especially the parts missing from email, like laughter, gestures, and expressions.
3. Break down barriers through effective onboarding
Some companies go out of their way to avoid global hiring because it’s intimidating to effectively onboard and manage employees internationally. International business is exceptionally complex, and ventures must quickly prove their effectiveness. Therefore, new hires must engage and learn fast.
Standardizing worldwide onboarding processes will ensure everyone has the same strong start. However, equality isn’t always equitable, and an onboarding practice that is helpful in one culture might be harmful in another. Take the time to study local customs that will set employees up for success wherever they are.
Effective onboarding ensures all hires become more familiar with employee expectations and better understand your company’s mission and values. Onboarding is a company’s chance to make a lasting, positive first impression on new team members to increase employee retention rates. A global employment platform can help manage international onboarding, so employees from various cultures seamlessly integrate into your company.
A global employment platform helps with onboarding by handing the following tasks.
- Human resources documentation: While all new hires come with paperwork, companies working with international employees must remain compliant with different global labor laws. A global employment platform manages the more extensive HR documentation associated with onboarding international employees, handling employee classifications and tax filings.
- Benefits packages: Global employees’ legally entitled benefits may differ from your company’s country of origin. Global employment platforms ensure compliance with location-specific benefits like medical, paid time off, sick leave, or family leave.
- Global compliance: Companies managing global teams must comply with many different international labor laws. A global employment platform will ensure all contracts are compliant to prevent costly fines or non-compliance business sanctions.
4. Find reasons to celebrate
The most successful teams find ways to celebrate each other, which helps employees feel connected, listened to, and engaged. Alongside celebrating global teams via video updates, you can use a company newsfeed to celebrate staff successes. Casual conversation among co-workers will help team members feel recognized as human beings.
An internal newsfeed will let team members regularly celebrate each other through tools like these.
- Weekly shoutouts: Regularly celebrating each other can boost motivation and increase global employee job satisfaction. A newsfeed provides teams with a space to congratulate each other and commend a co-worker for exceptional work.
- Life events: Global teams may feel lonely, as many may work remotely. Remote employees might miss the casual banter and brainstorming with co-workers that in-office workers enjoy. A platform that lets team members share life events like weddings, birthdays, cute pets, and exciting vacations will improve the remote employee experience.
- Holidays and traditions: Multicultural workforces may celebrate many different global holidays. A newsfeed allows employees to share their local holiday traditions, allowing for strengthened connections between employees. Further, these more casual spaces provide a space for global employees to participate in your company’s traditions.
Diversity, creativity and gaining global perspectives are some of the most rewarding benefits of being part of and engaging in a global workforce. So, embrace and celebrate it!
5. Define and redefine success
If you want employees to engage with your values and thrive in your company, communicate and reinforce employee expectations. Foster a company culture of respect, dignity, and kindness. Take every opportunity to show employees these values matter, reward team members for exhibiting them, and demonstrate new ways for employees to practice them daily. Ensuring your employees understand what you stand for will make them feel more successful, keeping them more engaged.
You can have a highly profitable, scalable business while treating employees well. Define your success by the triple bottom line — happy clients, happy employees, and happy shareholders. Engagement is critical to achieving this success. All members of your company should feel included, no matter where they are in the world.
Companies can be worldwide and have high global employee engagement. A high-growth, highly profitable international team can have highly satisfied clients and highly engaged, happy employees. Treating people well will always pay off in dividends for a company’s long-term success.
6. Prioritize health and well-being
Engagement depends on what happens at work and in employees’ personal lives. Therefore, employees who have higher levels of health and well-being are more likely to be engaged at work.
Providing health programs can increase productivity by decreasing the number of sick days employees must take off, ensuring higher global employee engagement levels. Employees who practice healthier habits might also encourage their families to participate, resulting in fewer days off work to care for ill relatives.
Stressed employees are also more likely to contract illnesses and may burn out. Mental and physical health programs, including teaching employees relaxation and stress-relief methods, can help increase employee retention rates and boost productivity, saving your company money. Beyond helping your company, encouraging healthy habits will give employees a better quality of life, lowering their risk of disease.
You can educate teams about the importance of mental, emotional, and physical health and encourage them to practice wellness by providing employee benefits like free therapy, gym discounts, and online assessments and informational resources. Lead by example by holding company exercise sessions and wellness information seminars, whether in person or virtually.
Increase global employee engagement with Globalization Partners
If you need help with global expansion, Globalization Partners can help you compliantly hire in 187 countries without the need to set up costly international subsidiaries. Our platform handles payroll, legal and HR matters, allowing you to spend more time maximizing employee engagement. Contact us or request a proposal today to start growing globally.
About Forbes Boston Business Council
Forbes Boston Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders in Greater Boston. Learn more at councils.forbes.com.