The Search for HR Technology to Build Trust and Engagement with Remote Employees


As employers navigate the creation of the hybrid workplace, they find themselves coping with issues of trust with employees who wish to remain remote.

Many employees have voiced their opinion that they should be allowed to remain as remote employees for the long term, at least part time. A recent survey from Business Insider revealed that 58% employees said they will “absolutely look for new work” if they can’t continue on in their current role remotely. Put simply, employees now expect remote work and are less interested in office spaces than they were two years ago.

In response to this overwhelming sentiment, some companies are moving to entirely remote workplaces, but a large percentage of organizations have developed their first iteration of hybrid work models.

In a session at our 4th Annual HR Tech North America event, Tango Card’s Rebecca Hathaway outlined how the company is looking to provide their workforce as much flexibility as possible around this decision.

WATCH: HR Tools to Build Trust and Keep Remote Teams Engaged

“We as HR professionals need to look at the Future of Work, what it’s going to look like and start to cater to that and retain that talent by looking at what we are doing and how we engage,” Hathaway said. “One of the things we can do is lean into some of the tools we’re already using and explore how we can use them to keep people at our organizations and allow them to have that flexibility of remote space.”

Tango Card has rolled out what it calls its Choice First program, allowing employees to establish a “primary” desk, the location of which is chosen, be it at home or in the office. That doesn’t mean that employees are chained to that location, however, as they can create a hybrid approach that works for them and serves their role within the organization most effectively.

Over the course of the pandemic, Tango Card has hired 65 remote employees, a number which includes their Chief People Officer. That’s roughly one-third of the company’s workforce that has never set foot in a Tango Card office. When the company surveyed employees, perhaps unsurprisingly, 84% said they wanted to continue to work fully remotely.

Tools for Talent Attraction and

In the session, Hathaway started to break down tools for building trust and the journey begins during the talent acquisition process. In pre-COVID times, Tango Card typically took candidates to lunch during the process, but with that option off the table, they were able to replace it by taking advantage of their own technology, known as Reward Link, to give prospects a gift card they could use to buy lunch instead.

“It gives the candidates a way to relax and take a step back during their interview process,” Hathaway said. “We can also use that as welcome gifts for new hires, it’s a chance for them to experience the product and we can say welcome, we’re glad that you’re here with that. We can link with birthdays and work anniversaries so it becomes a part of their experience here.”

WATCH: Distributing Rewards for the Distributed Workforce

Hathaway outlined how Tango Card has integrated itself into a variety of tools including their HRIS and Slack. Tango Card uses Namely as its HRIS, which now has a newsfeed and methods for employees to socialize and see what’s going on outside of their teams. This also keeps employees interacting with the HRIS, increasing the likelihood they take advantage of its features and increase the value of the system to the organization.

Hathaway also outlined the use of Slack as a tool that goes beyond the day-to-day business, featuring integrations such as Donut, a Slack integration that creates a watercooler topic that poses a random question three times a week. Its intent is to create a dialogue that would normally occur organically in a random setting such as a break room or happy hour and gives people a chance to express themselves and interact with people and teams they normally wouldn’t.

They’ve also integrated their rewards products to give employees the ability to publicly praise colleagues with a small reward over Slack.

“I get asked all the time ‘if we come back into the office, do we get to keep donut?” Hathaway said. “These apps are really popular and if you’re struggling to keep people connected or having people feel isolated, they’re a great investment to address those needs.”

Tools for Trust

One of the biggest issues of the shift to remote work has been around trust and productivity. Managers often struggle with the challenge of trusting employees if they can’t see their productivity taking place right in front of them.  Hathaway recommends the “OKR model,” short for objectives and key results, to help keep things in perspective for managers, but what about employees?

A lot of employees struggle as they feel less connected to the organization and less in tune with its goals, unsure of how their work will plug into the broader business objectives. Hathaway outlined Tango Card’s use of 15Five for this. It allows employees the opportunities to provide feedback to managers and for managers, it helps them keep their finger on the pulse of what’s going on with your employees.

Managers and employees can add talking points to their one-on-ones that take place in the tool, ensuring that nothing gets lost and that they can keep the conversation going and building over time.

“People want to continue working from home, but there is still a little bit of isolation there,” Hathaway said. “By having something that allows them to plug in their goals and line them up with the goals of the company and see how it supports the business directly is really meaningful. It helps them feel like they’re having an impact on the company and that helps ensure that they feel connected and engaged.”

A fair amount of companies find themselves wanting to return to the days of cubicles and looking over shoulders. For managers, it was easier and for companies, the traditional co-located office felt like a path to certainty. But COVID has provided a paradigm shift that now challenges everyone across the organization to think differently and to try new things, none of which may be more difficult than the leap of faith that is trusting employees.

“Micromanagement is not going to lead to anything good, it’s the path to the dark side,” Hathaway said. “So ask yourselves, how do you have engaged management? What tools can support that? It’s important to use those tools regularly and commit to having regular 1-on-1s and make it a rule that 1-on-1s will never be cancelled by a manager. And in those meetings set goals, communicate the metrics and let the employees go for it. Don’t micromanage them. If they don’t meet the goals, that’s a coaching opportunity, but measure the work and not the human.”

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

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