12 Ways to Keep Remote Nurses Engaged
Keeping nurses engaged can be challenging for nurse managers. What about remote staff? They pose unique challenges in terms of engagement and communicating a consistent culture. These 12 tips will help you keep an engaged remote nursing workforce.
When you became a nurse manager you likely thought that you would always be face to face with your staff. The emergence of managed care has changed the face of healthcare and nursing.
Today, many nurses enjoy the ability to work from home on a part-time or full-time basis. There are many bonuses to working in your jammies that we like to talk about. But, we must be aware of the challenges created by remote positions.
Every good manager knows that it takes effort to connect to your staff. Remote staff pose new and specific challenges.
12 Tips for Connecting with Remote Staff
Build Rapport - When you see your staff face to face, you can ask about kids, spouses and other personal happenings that keep us engaged. When you are in your office and staff are 20, 100 or even 1000's of miles away, it is easy to forget about the importance of building rapport and having a personal relationship.
Plan time for small talk during meetings. Send personal messages on holidays and birthdays. Acknowledge a job well done.
Schedule 1:1 Time -Schedule time to meet with each staff member. Be consistent. Don't cancel these meetings. They are an important way to keep every staff member productive and engaged.
Use video calls when possible. Context can be lost when you can't see the person you are speaking with. Non-verbal communication is crucial for both the listener and the communicator.
Schedule Virtual Team Meetings - Virtual meetings may take a little planning, but are invaluable to the success of all remote teams. Meetings create a culture of collaboration and accountability.
There are video conferencing platforms that are HIPAA compliant specifically for healthcare teams. Try Zoom, Brother OmniJoin, or search other options to find the one that fits your team best.
Recognize Accomplishments - Everyone enjoys a little recognition from time to time. Recognize career milestones such as obtaining a certification or graduating with a new degree.
Send a gift. Do an impromptu team meeting so that all team members can offer their congratulations. Send food! Going the extra mile will mean a lot to the remote staff member.
Plan Face-to-Face Meetings- You can meet annually, semi-annually or any other frequency, just meet. The important part is not how often, it is just that you plan face-to-face meetings and stick with a schedule. Spending time together with your team will keep everyone working toward the same common goals.
Choose the Correct Communication Avenue - You have several types of communication at your fingertips, choose the right method:
- Email - If your message is short, sweet and to the point, choose email. This is also a great method for communicating information you want to ensure the staff have at their fingertips.
- Phone/Video Chats- If you are discussing a difficult subject, always use verbal communication. Never deliver bad news via email.
Video chats also work great for engaging, collaborative conversations. You will get to see team members facial expressions, understand pauses or silence and see when someone is writing or thinking.
- Instant Chats - Impromptu, quick conversations are perfect for chats. The topic should be lighthearted and easy to understand. This is also a great method for keeping personal communication with staff members flowing.
- Video Messages - Setting up a Youtube video is super-easy these days. Why not do a weekly or monthly video to communicate important info that is informative and not up for discussion. You can set clear expectations when all staff members hear the same verbal message.
Invest in Virtual Training - If you are growing a remote team, you will likely have staff all over the country. Invest in technology to deliver a stellar training program. This can be used for both on-boarding and ongoing training.
Share Your Screen - When you are talking to a staff member, share your screen when possible. If you are speaking about a specific area of the electronic medical records, this is a great time to screen share so that you can ensure you are both talking about the same thing.
Include Remote Staff in Meetings - If you are in a meeting and Sallie's name keeps coming up, why not do a video call with Sallie? If Sallie were in the office you would likely ask her to physically join the meeting.
Remote staff want to be included. This helps with engagement and promotes a small, cozy culture even when miles separate you.
Career Development - Don't forget about the career development goals and needs of your remote staff. They want to be recognized for being a dynamic part of your team.
Ask them about their goals. Include them in special projects. Even consider them for promotions when possible.
Host Virtual Coffee Talks - The workforce in general has lost "water cooler talks". There are many good things about a 10-15 minute morning meeting, especially with remote staff. This provides you with critical time to connect, talk about the goals for the day and allow staff time to ask questions.
Encourage Collaboration - Remote staff can easily be forgotten about when it comes to collaborative efforts. Many times it is not because they are not thought of, but because sending multiple emails back and forth is time consuming and confusing.
Google docs, Google Drive, and Dropbox are great collaboration tools for documents.
It takes a bit more work to keep remote staff fully engaged. As the leader, you must set the expectation and lead by example. Using these 12 tips will help you create a collaborative culture with your remote nursing staff.
What other ways do you keep staff engaged? If you work remotely, what do you do to keep engaged with the staff back in the office? Comment below and start the conversation.
About melissa.mills1117, BSN
Melissa Mills is a nurse who is on a journey of exploration and entrepreneurship. She is a healthcare writer who specializes in case management and leadership. When she is not in front of a computer, Melissa is busy with her husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs and a fat cat named Little Dude.
Joined: Feb '17; Posts: 122; Likes: 302
Freelance Writer, Nurse Case Manager, Professor; from OH , US