Without a doubt, the global pandemic in 2020 has reshaped the way businesses operate, ushering in the era of the hybrid workplace setup. This combination of remote and in-office work is now the preferred choice for many organisations aiming to balance business continuity with employee safety. Yet, this transition brings a unique challenge to the forefront - how can managers activate employee engagement when face-to-face interactions are rare and team members are dispersed?
At People Management Partners, we believe that an engaged workforce is crucial to thrive in a successful hybrid workplace. While maintaining the same level of engagement as in traditional settings may seem daunting in a hybrid landscape, it's entirely possible with well-thought-out planning and effective engagement strategies.
To help you navigate this, we've prepared a simple guide on how to improve employee engagement in a hybrid workplace.
The Challenges of a Hybrid Workplace
With the rise of remote work, traditional methods of engaging employees may no longer be effective. Here are the top 5 challenges that organisations may face in a hybrid model:
Communicating effectively becomes a major challenge in a hybrid workplace. Many employees in hybrid work models experience challenges in communication and collaboration. Miscommunication can lead to confusion, missed deadlines, and overall inefficiency, greatly affecting employee engagement.
Limited Opportunities for Team Building and Social Interaction
A lack of social interaction can hinder team unity and employee morale, impacting the overall team members' employee experience. Harvard Business Review suggests that virtual team-building activities can nurture a sense of belonging and support employee engagement.
Try to schedule a weekly virtual coffee break where everyone shares weekend highlights or humorous anecdotes. This straightforward activity can enhance connection and camaraderie.
Struggle with Work-Life Balance
One of the biggest challenges for hybrid workers is achieving work-life balance. With no clear boundaries between personal and professional life, employees may struggle to disconnect from work during non-working hours, leading to burnout and reduced productivity.
Consider implementing flexible working hours and allowing employees to have "wellness breaks" during the day to take care of their mental and physical health.
Adapting to novel technologies can be a stumbling block for employees, possibly leading to disengagement. Rapid changes in technology may cause stress and frustration among team members who are not tech-savvy.
Lack of Visibility and Recognition
Keeping track of employees' work and providing timely recognition in a hybrid workplace can be challenging. This lack of visibility can lead to feelings of lack of appreciation and disengagement among employees. More so, remote employees may feel disconnected from the team and organisation, leading to decreased motivation.
6 Effective Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement
Here are six effective strategies to improve employee engagement in a hybrid workforce.
Strategy 1: Regular Check-Ins
Frequent individual check-ins between managers and hybrid employees are crucial in a hybrid work environment. These can be conducted via video conferencing tools, promoting personal rapport and creating a platform for feedback and recognition.
As per the Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report, engagement significantly influences employee stress levels, having an impact 3.8 times greater than the work location alone. This underlines the necessity to cultivate positive relationships among hybrid workers, their teams, and managers, irrespective of their work location.
Strategy 2: Leverage Technology
Adopting the right technology can make collaboration and communication easier while also aiding in task management. According to Deloitte, providing employees with the right digital tools can significantly boost their engagement. This includes project management tools, communication platforms, and learning management systems.
As mentioned previously, platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams can be great for communication. Project management tools like Asana or Trello can help track progress and deadlines.
Strategy 3: Clear Expectations and Goals
Clearly defined goals and expectations help employees understand their role and contribution to the organisation. According to the MIT Sloan Management Review, clear goal-setting improves engagement by aligning individuals' work with organisational objectives. Whether working remotely or in-office, employees need to understand their role in the bigger picture.
Managers should communicate expectations and goals clearly to their team members through regular performance evaluations and setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) objectives.
Strategy 4: Cultivate a Recognition-Driven Company Culture
Create a culture that values recognition, making employees feel appreciated for their efforts. According to a Harvard Business Review article, companies have traditionally used monetary rewards to uplift employee morale and performance.
However, recent studies indicate that symbolic awards like public accolades, certificates, and congratulatory notes can significantly impact retention rates, performance, and intrinsic motivation. Such gestures show the company's respect and appreciation without relying solely on financial incentives.
Strategy 5: Provide Opportunities for Professional Development
Offering opportunities for learning and development can increase employee engagement. A report by LinkedIn Learning found that 94% of employees are more likely to remain with a company that prioritises their career growth. Surprisingly, the main obstacle hindering employees from engaging in workplace learning is the lack of time.
Both executives and people managers acknowledge that encouraging employees to make time for learning is the foremost challenge in talent development.
Strategy 6: Encourage Work-Life Balance
Promote a healthy work-life balance to prevent employee burnout. A Harvard Business Review study indicates that work-life balance is a key component in employee engagement and welfare.
Overworked and overwhelmed employees tend to underperform, leading to disengagement. Employers should encourage employees to take breaks, disconnect post-work hours, and, if feasible, leverage flexible schedules.
Need Help Elevating Employee Engagement in a Hybrid Setup?
If you're looking for ways to improve employee engagement in a hybrid workplace, HR Coach can help. Our Staff Engagement Survey Software from Star Workplace yields crucial insights into your team's engagement levels. With our employee engagement surveys, you can pinpoint areas of enhancement and employ strategies to uplift employee engagement.
With two decades of expertise in HR consulting, we're well-versed in the unique hurdles of managing a hybrid team. Our skilled coaches offer customised solutions to nurture employee engagement and elevate organisational success.
Get in touch with us today to find out more.