For HR teams, the shift to a hybrid work model is just beginning. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the hybrid workplace, so companies are operating with a start-up mentality of figuring things out as they go along. The biggest challenge right now lies in reimagining employee engagement strategies to empower hybrid work teams and ensuring that all employees—whether fully remote, working from home, or on-site—feel motivated and included.
Here are three strategies for improving employee engagement in hybrid workplaces.
1. Facilitate collaboration and equal access for all
In a hybrid workplace, some of your employees will have a lot of face time in the office, some may come in once a week, and some may wake up in an entirely different time zone. The challenge for HR lies in making all of these employees feel seen. Your remote employees should have the same access to work opportunities, collaboration, and professional growth as your employees who come into the office. Equality and inclusion are key to building an engaged hybrid workforce. Employees should feel connected to their work and the company mission and not to an office space. It’s demoralizing for people to think that on-site employees may be favored or seen as more committed or have more access to leadership.
Remote employees can also feel isolated from co-workers and detached from the team. Sharing a common space helps teams vibe better, ask for help, bounce ideas around, and feel comfortable to open up. That’s a challenge that HR teams will have to continue to consider and should work with managers to understand the best team dynamics and how to strengthen these work relationships.
Some tips to level the playing field:
- Schedule team meetings so that both remote and office-based workers can attend and accommodate all time zones present. Be conscious of what time you’re asking employees to log on or stay on.
- Institute a one-person, one screen policy for all video meetings.
- Record all meetings and make them available to anyone who couldn’t join.
- Ensure managers have regular one-on-ones with all team members to make sure they feel supported and like a part of the team.
- Ensure managers support all of their team members’ professional growth, not just the ones they see in the office.
- Invest in remote communication tools and collaboration platforms for asynchronous work and increased transparency for all of your employees.
2. Increase play, purpose, and potential
When researchers looked into the productivity of those who worked from home versus the office, they identified three positive motivators that require extra consideration for remote employees—play, purpose, and potential. Play is the joy of brainstorming, problem-solving with a team member, and working on projects that allow for creative thinking. Purpose is the employee’s impact and addresses the “why” of what we do every day. Potential relates to growth and an employee’s access to mentors and colleagues. Engaging your people requires addressing all of these needs, but remote employees run the risk of missing out. HR can address all three by working with managers to promote creative thinking and collaboration between all team members, set goals, create learning and development opportunities, and recognize employees for their hard work, which brings us to our next point.
3. Visibly recognize and reward your people
To keep employees engaged, you have to recognize them and their colleagues for a job well done. Not only does positive recognition build loyalty and motivation, but it will also help remote employees feel seen and valued. Provide employees with a platform to send kudos, highlight employee contributions, wins, and encourage managers and leadership to recognize the achievements of their teams. Reward your employees in small ways, with an extra vacation day, company swag, or a box of cookies delivered to their door. To encourage great work, HR has to find ways to say thank you. Use newsletters, shoutouts, or other internal communications to let teammates know you appreciate their contributions and to keep everyone in the company updated on wins, big and small.
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Continuing to reimagine the hybrid work world
As companies begin to bring employees back to the office and expand their recruiting efforts, the hybrid work model will continue to adapt and change. Even with a long-term strategy in place, HR teams should test, survey, and assess their hybrid work practices to ensure employees are supported and solve problems as they arise.