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Video Off?
Assessing Employee Engagement in Virtual Meetings

Business Executives are putting enormous value on face and voice time in remote and hybrid environments and hoping HR leaders have the answer to engagement.

We’ve heard a lot about employee engagement recently. It’s the new buzz word in remote and hybrid offices and HR executives are hyper-focused keeping employees engaged after traditional office life has led to more disparate teams. First—let’s break down employee engagement and basic engagement.  

Engage verb

en·​gage | \ in-ˈgāj  , en- \
engaged; engaging 

  • To hold the attention of 
  • To do or take part in something 
  • To give attention to something 
  • Involved in activity 
  • Greatly interested 

(Merriam-Webster Dictionary) 

Employee engagement adjective

SHRM’s toolkit on Developing and Sustaining Employee Engagement put together various working definitions of employee engagement: 

  • Quantum Workplace – Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work. 
  • Gallup – Engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. 
  • Willis Towers Watson – Engagement is employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success. 
  • Aon Hewitt – Employee engagement is “the level of an employee’s psychological investment in their organization.” 

Attention. Participation. Involvement. Emotional connection and enthusiasm towards their work and employer.

Businesses and executives know employee engagement directly affects business outcomes. The more involved, enthusiastic, and emotionally invested employees are – the more likely you’ll see better productivity, performance, and overall organizational success. 

That’s why businesses are increasingly looking at HR executives to lead employee engagement initiatives. At a recent Jugo thought leadership event several HR executives shared their insight about the challenges ahead when it comes to remote employees and hybrid offices. “One of the main issues these days is to find ways to engage people who spend most of their time remote and at home. As HR it should be part of our mission,” said Rudy Morandin VP of HR for Pirelli Italy. 

So, what does all of this have to do with having your camera turned on? Will having your camera on during virtual meetings make employees more engaged? Some managers think so. Or at least some managers think it will hold employees accountable and appear engaged.  

“How do we do that effectively from a corporation’s perspective to drive productivity, drive engagement and to show our values of trust. How do we show trust with our employees to ultimately drive business agility?” 
-Nadim Kara, Canada Post Corporation. 

I’m Tired of Seeing My Face 

Zoom fatigue is real Stanford University researchers found people get tired of seeing themselves and others on screen.  

Companies are now taking a closer look at what virtual meetings platforms they’re using and how to battle the screen fatigue. HR executives at Jugo’s Reimagining Leadership event shared what works at their organizations, and what they have learned as HR leaders through the transition to a more virtual and hybrid world.

“When it becomes a meeting that’s larger than maybe 10 to 15 people somehow automatically turn their cameras off because they don’t want to be in the focus. I do see that people are very tired. I am thinking we should have sometimes have the cameras off because I think it can be hard for some people.”
Natalie Wintermark, Yara International

No Judgement Zone

CHRO Executives like Jimmy Rose and Natalie Wintermark stress no judgement when it comes to employees keeping their cameras off during calls.

“In situations that I’ve experienced where there’s everyone’s on camera and somebody doesn’t want to be on camera that day? We don’t really call them out. There’s no judgement because we don’t want someone’s choice to be on or off camera to be a barrier to their participation.”
-Jimmy Rose, Cotiviti

Rose also explained how leadership plays a role in the “Camera on or Camera off” culture. If a senior leader, or company executive doesn’t feel comfortable with the camera during meetings—then it would be difficult to expect your employees to turn on their cameras. Top down.

Organizations and leaders need to set clear expectations

What does this have to with engagement? It depends on your manager, and your environment, and your organization’s definition of engagement.

There’s plenty of surveys and research to show people are just as engaged with the camera off and they focused more on the content of the meeting rather than feeling self-conscious by seeing their own faces on the screen.

But, a recent survey by Vyopta revealed 92% of U.S execs think employees who are frequently on mute or keep their cameras off during virtual meetings don’t have a long term future at their company.

At the end of the day companies need to set clear engagement expectations, and what role “video on” plays in engagement KPIs. Employees need to be set up for success with clearly defined expectations of engagement, and technology that is built for immersive engagement.

Employees are our most important asset, and we all need to invest in accordingly. I think number two hybrid is here to stay, and it’s a top priority.”
– Jennifer Nuckles, Sofi

Do you want to step out of the virtual meeting boxes and make your meetings feel in-person? Boost engagement, productivity, and feel like a team again. Demo Jugo today!

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