The data is loud and clear: Employees love working remotely. But it’s also clear that keeping employees engaged in a hybrid or remote setting presents unique challenges. It can be hard to know how engaged employees are if you don’t regularly see them face-to-face. People working remotely may also have a hard time developing a sense of belonging in the workplace relative to their on-site colleagues.
There is no one-size-fits-all employee engagement solution because every company is different. Employee needs will differ across organizations and even across teams. But, when it comes to improving workplace culture, you have to start somewhere.
Here are a few initiatives we recommend.
Empower Employees by Letting Them Choose
No matter what workplace solutions you want to implement, you won’t get results if you don’t consult the people you’re trying to serve. If employees have no voice in the engagement solutions you’re offering, they simply won’t be as effective. Employees want to be heard and supported on their terms, and rightly so: you won’t boost employee engagement much if you don’t actually engage your employees!
Soliciting feedback from employees through anonymous surveys and one-on-one meetings is a great way to start taking the temperature of your workplace culture. Find out what your employees think and then present them with support options. Prioritize finding out what employees need to succeed—and deliver it.
Keep Communication Lines Open and Two-way
Jumping off of the previous point, communication within the hybrid workplace needs a serious upgrade. It’s too easy for remote employees to slip through the cracks while their on-site colleagues build cliques with the people they see every day. Giving employees a voice is only half of the equation; improving workplace culture relies heavily on the communication employees receive, too.
Create spaces for employees and team leaders to communicate with each other as often and as efficiently as possible. This might look like reducing the number of one-sided, broadcast-style meetings and announcements with more interactive one-on-one and team meetings. You might also build some more casual communicative spaces in your company Slack or whatever other communication apps your company uses. Trello, for example, is a fully remote team that utilizes all sorts of methods to build a welcoming and inclusive company culture.
Give Leaders the Support They Need To Lead
Leadership is a skill that you can develop and refine. Leading a hybrid or remote team, in particular, requires certain mindfulness and flexibility to make sure remote employees are seen and included in daily affairs.
But most leaders have been thrust into this hybrid management position without much warning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, their leadership may be suffering. Additional training in hybrid leadership can help managers feel less lost during this cultural sea change.
Managers are a major deciding factor in how engaged employees are at work. They’re also a major reason an employee will stick with—or leave—a job they otherwise feel neutral toward. Your leaders are on the front lines of the quest for employee engagement; make sure to equip them well to succeed.
A Final Note on How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Hybrid Workplace
For the past two years, the way we work has undergone a tremendous shift. Hybrid work is increasingly becoming normal. Companies must learn to adapt and overcome the challenges remote and hybrid work can present.
Every employee on your team will have a different experience with working remotely. Each person comes from a different background, works in a different environment, and has access to different tools. Some will have financial or technological disadvantages compared to their colleagues.
Keep this in mind while you plan your hybrid work strategy. Workplace engagement solutions are only effective if employees can truly take advantage of them. If there is any one universal law of employee engagement, it is that the best strategies will always involve taking into account the unique needs of every individual employee.