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4 Ways to Keep Your Remote RCM Staff Engaged

remote staff virtual meeting

Many RCM staff are staying remote, but they are still an integral part of the team. Learn how to keep ALL staff engaged and moving towards revenue cycle goals.

You have a remote or hybrid RCM workforce, which is great – but how do you keep everyone in the loop and driving towards the same goals? To in-house staff, remote staff can feel less accessible while remote staff may feel uninformed or left out at times.

As managers, how can we get everyone on the same team and working together efficiently?

Communicate, Communicate, and Do It Again.

McKinsey and Co. created a survey report assessing the state of post-pandemic remote and hybrid work, and some of the findings are a little surprising. They found that remote workers actually had MORE anxiety about their jobs, mainly due to the fear of the unknown. The feeling that “things are happening” beyond their sphere of knowledge can be a big source of fear. Anxiety is known to reduce job satisfaction, negatively affect colleague relationships, and decrease work performance overall.

Do not hold meetings with “only office staff” or “only remote staff”. Get used to enabling virtual attendance at all meetings and communications.

Be careful about giving preference to on-site employees, even when unintended. This can easily happen if on-site employees are gathering for lunches outside of work and are privy to activities that their remote counterparts are not.

Employees need information – formally and informally, and at regular intervals. Give frequent updates at meetings, send out emails, and a newsletter, and answer questions. Don’t leave employees hanging about when they can expect to hear back about something. Remember, they are working without the benefit of reading others’ body language, picking up on office politics, or gauging moods. It is easy for people to read things into emails that simply aren’t there. Be transparent, and don’t be afraid to over-communicate.

Reinforce Boundaries

Reassure all employees that it is not just OK but EXPECTED of them to set boundaries. Better yet, set some of them ahead of time. Do not expect employees to answer emails at night, or to be available on the weekends. Everyone needs to “leave the office behind”, even if it is their living room. If you need to always have someone available, then develop a paid on-call rotation that is fair for everyone.

Similarly, it may be easier for remote employees to feel like they can manage their time effectively and, for example, take a child to an appointment in the middle of the day and then return to work in the afternoon. If this is accepted for remote employees, then it must be allowed for on-site employees too. It is important that these expectations be concrete and written into policy. If hours are flexible, how flexible are they? Be sure to clearly define the limits, such as when PTO or vacation time must be used, and what happens if productivity falls behind. This keeps the playing field fair for everyone and avoids conflict later.

Schedule One-on-One Time

Schedule regular 1:1 meetings with each remote staff member and make that time meaningful. Avoid letting the time devolve into a gripe session or a gossip hour by establishing a set agenda that is emailed out ahead of time, for each employee. In these meetings, cover progress towards performance goals, and barriers that may have popped up that you can assist with, and ask specific questions.

For example, in one month you might focus on everyone’s home office setups and make sure that they are free from distractions and provide knowledge about ergonomics. Depending on how the department is going, you might need to ask tough questions, like:

“I want you to know that you are a valued employee, but I need to ask what factors might lead you to look for another job?”

“What questions do you have for me?”

“What do you worry about after you have clocked out for the day?”

“How do you like to be shown appreciation or recognized for a job well done?”

Questions like these can give you valuable insights into how to manage your staff – including remote staff – and how that might look different than your in-person staff.

It is also important to be transparent about each employee’s performance – both what he/she is doing well, and how they can improve certain aspects. Nothing should be a surprise at the annual evaluation – it should be communicated all along, with opportunities to improve.

Be Creative

Whereas on-site employees gather in the breakroom and eat cake on someone’s birthday, what is happening for the remote staff? It may seem silly, but little things matter. Either make it a priority to schedule some sort of remote-friendly celebration, or delegate someone who just loves to plan. Send flowers and a cupcake, a gift certificate for free lunch, or even the afternoon off with no strings attached. Mix it up.

Also, plan time for your team just to bond and be less formalized every so often. No agenda, just get the ball rolling and direct the flow of the meeting. Set a culture that encourages laughter. Encourage team members to share details about their families, hobbies, and stressors. Everyone needs to let off steam, so provide the space and time to do that.

The word work has changed more in the past few years than in many decades, so it is natural for there to be an adjustment period. Stay ahead of the curve and conquer your revenue cycle challenges with help from Healthrise. We empower organizations and people with financial health and stability. For more information about our customized solutions, visit our website.