Remote Work and Employee Engagement

Remote Work and Employee Engagement: How Managers and Employees Can Reduce Stress and Increase Job Satisfaction

Written by Dan Grisoni

I recently read an article claiming that 49% of employees are seriously considering leaving their current role in Canada. 49%!!!!!!!!!! That’s an astoundingly high percentage.

This statistic is concerning on many fronts for both managers and leaders as it speaks volumes about the current state of employee engagement in 2020. Why are employees so unhappy that it’s causing them to consider leaving? What can managers and leaders do to prevent this from happening?

Throughout my coaching practice, many of my clients who hold various roles in companies have at some point or another felt dissatisfied and described having the feeling that they were “just a number”. Sadly, this is not new.

In light of Covid-19, many employees, managers and leaders are feeling this way and believe that if they leave the company they work for, they would simply be replaced. It’s clear when people express this feeling that they have essentially checked out and no longer view their workplace as positive. It also speaks to the strong probability that they are no longer engaged at optimal levels. But I wonder why so many Canadians are considering resigning.

The article tells the story that the leading cause of employees feeling disengaged and dissatisfied in the workplace is due to ‘reduced social interaction, increased workloads and a lack of well-being and mental health support’.

The pandemic has ultimately created a decline in social interaction due to safety protocols and more employees working from home. This new way of work has turbocharged a drastic change in how both employees and managers attempt to balance their workloads and deal with constant overwhelm. Although many employees now work from home, one would think that they could balance work priorities and family more effectively, right? WRONG!

Unfortunately, many are struggling with higher levels of stress and an inability to manage their time through no fault of their own. Employees are spending more energy than before to perform their jobs due to the increased workload that their managers are assigning them.

Companies may have reduced their workforce, and one might think there is less work to do, but the opposite is true because there is more to do with fewer people and resources. This is also true in situations where companies have not reduced their workforce.

Working remotely is relatively new to many employers and it has resulted in a rapid culture shift. Considering this change occurred literally overnight, many companies may have not taken into account how best to manage people’s productivity levels.

Instead, perhaps due to stereotypical misconceptions about working from home, employers felt the need to push harder to ensure that employees remained productive. Many employees experienced an increase in workload and continue to do so (despite having demonstrated that productivity levels were not negatively impacted by working from home).

Overtime, the impact felt by employees is that they have to do more with less which results in greater stress, the feeling of overwhelm and the beginning signs of burnout.

Knowing that these 3 areas are impacting employee engagement and employee satisfaction, what should employees, managers and leaders consider doing?

Here are some practical and proven tips that can help you propel forward:


Remember that you own the responsibility of managing how you spend your time at work. This may be shocking to read, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed by your workload, take control by incorporating the following tips:

1. Document a list of everything that you need to deliver on for the next month. If you can, do so for the next 3 months. 

2. Schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your work assignments and due dates.

3. During the meeting with your manager, let them know that you are concerned with your workload and you need their help. Share your documented list with them.  Ask them to identify the top 2 or 3 priorities that they want you to focus on for the specific month and ask them to reassign some tasks to others on the team.

4. Set clear boundaries for yourself ensuring that you do not spend time outside of your regular work hours to complete work related tasks. This is key to ensuring that you get away from work related tasks and focus your energy on other things.

5. Ensure you eat regularly, go for walks, spend time with your family and friends if you can, and spend time doing what you enjoy.

Managers and Leaders

As a manager/leader the buck stops with you, right?  It’s your responsibility to manage your team’s performance and deliver results.  This includes managing your team’s workload while ensuring that your direct reports are appropriately challenged, are being developed, and remain engaged in a psychologically healthy and safe work environment.

You want to foster a positive work culture while helping others to problem solve.  If done correctly, your approach will help increase optimism and reduce employee stress.

To do so, consider implementing the following:

1. Make it a point to speak with your direct reports and ask them to detail what tasks/projects/initiatives they have on their plate.  If they inform you that they are stressed or need help, ask them what you can do to help.  Chances are they will tell you what they need.

2. In turn, offer your guidance and collaborate by providing insight into what work is to be made a priority.  Offload or reschedule any unnecessary work that will help reduce stress.

3. Reassign work to others when they have the bandwidth and/or table low priority tasks and initiatives.

4. Ask your team what they need to minimize and eliminate work related stress.  Show your team that you care and action the items that are within your control.

5. Speak with your manager to ensure that they are aware of the current workload demands.  Ask them for their assistance and support.

6. Continue to check-in with your team and repeat items 1 to 4 regularly.

7. Thank employees for their effort and contributions on a regular basis.

8. Speak with your benefits team to inquire what tools and resources they can make available through the relationships they have with insurance companies, Employee Assistance Programs and government agencies that can be leveraged to help people manage stress effectively.  Then, make arrangements for employees to participate in information sessions/webinars where they can obtain access to tools and resources that will benefit them.

9. Increase the frequency of employee and team recognition as this helps to support a positive work environment.  I’ve seen and heard of companies sending their employees surprise goodies like cookies and chocolates in an attempt to remind employees that they are thought of and appreciated.

10. Encourage employees to set boundaries so that they can take breaks, start and stop working as they would if they were in the office.  Remember that as a leader they are looking to you, so it’s important that you do the same.

11. Practice empathy with your direct reports and colleagues.

12. Increase your own self-awareness and manage your emotions effectively.  Ask others for feedback as to how you are showing up for your team and work.  Make adjustments where necessary.

Implementing these tips will help you and your team PROPEL HIGHER!

Are there any tips I’ve missed or ones that you would like to share?  Let me know in the comments!

About Dan Grisoni

Dan Grisoni is a sought-after high performance coach and trainer. For over 20 years Dan has been helping managers and leaders become influential and inspiring so that they can live, matter, and thrive, 365.

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