Two Guiding Principles that Drive Employee Engagement in a Hybrid Workplace
Date Published: Jan 30, 2023
It’s not just a trend. The hybrid workplace is here to stay.
Many companies have transitioned to a hybrid workplace since the conclusion of pandemic-related lockdowns. Much has been learned in the last two years about hybrid best practices, leaving human resources professionals and other business leaders to wonder - how do we build upon our insights to establish a first-rate hybrid working scheme aligned with our company culture?
At the core of this question is engagement. In other words, how can an organization encourage engagement when workers are physically disconnected from each other, management and a shared material space that shapes company identity?
There is a lot to unpack here. Despite all of the integers and complexities, there are two guiding principles that drive employee engagement in a hybrid workplace: prioritizing the human experience and being mindful of time.
What Does “Engagement” Look Like Today?
It’s worth first considering the idea of employee engagement. Its definition has not changed. Employee engagement continues to mean the degree to which a worker is absorbed in and enthusiastic about their work, thereby forwarding an organization’s interests. The core tactics that contribute to employee engagement also remain the same:
A well-defined company culture
Clarity around job expectations and how this contributes to the team and organization
Clear communication channels and company transparency
Acknowledging work well done and providing honest, constructive feedback
But what does worker engagement look like now? With fewer in-person interactions, how does management gauge workers’ engagement?
Here are the key metrics:
Retention rates: there is a strong link between overall employee engagement and retention.
Productivity figures: individual and team outputs signal engagement in work.
Creativity quotient: creative problem-solving and putting forth new ideas are indications of engagement.
Prioritizing the Human Experience
Prioritizing the human experience will separate the wheat from the chaff among companies in our hybrid world. Here’s why.
Why Emphasizing Humanity is Important
Limited physical interactions hamper relationship development. There are a myriad of reasons for this in the hybrid world, but these two are arguably the most important:
1. Differences in Employee Experiences: Virtual vs In-Person
Employees hired since lockdowns will have had different onboarding experiences compared to workers hired previously. These newer employees will have received online training and most, if not all, work relationships will have been forged in the virtual realm - versus everything being done in person before. This alone creates a significant workplace perspective disconnect between pre- and post-COVID hires.
2. Assessing Employee Wellbeing and Interactions
From management’s point of view, it can be difficult to assess the well-being of an employee, and in some cases their job performance, in a remote work setting. Collaboration among staff and personnel conflicts can be similarly opaque to supervisors who do not regularly witness workgroup interactions.
These issues - and many more you have no doubt experienced firsthand - speak to a greater need for prioritizing the human experience.
You Have Already Done It; Keep Doing It
The remote work environment, as well as the pandemic that spurned it, confirmed our humanity in many ways. The concrete wall between our professional and private lives collapsed. We all glimpsed into co-workers’ private spaces - quite literally in many cases. We saw their homes via online meetings and met family members, roommates and wandering pets. We were compassionate. We were more apt to listen and respond with empathy.
How are you managing? How are the kids? Your parents?
This checking in with one another and the emphasis on personal well-being as it intersects with the workplace were some of the silver linings of the lockdowns. The guiding principle is simple: keep doing it.
Organizations that truly drive employee engagement in a hybrid workplace will continue to foster a company culture that values the humanity and wellness of its workers.
Embrace the intersection between the wellness of the employee and the betterment of the organization and pattern policies around this. You will find that this goes far in covering the physical distances that separate us in the hybrid world.
In short, don’t forget the lessons learned three years ago. Fold them into your regular operations.
Learn More: The Future of Work is the Employee Experience
Being Mindful of Time
Time is money is an ageless aphorism. For the longest time, the inference was that an employee’s time was the company’s money. The pandemic and emergence of the hybrid workplace require us to reconsider this.
Much is demanded of employees today. The world moves faster than ever and employees must respond. New technologies mandate ongoing skills training. Market disruptions require continuous agility. Business trends call for evolving adaptability. The labour market will continue to be tough - for employers and employees too.
Companies that drive employee engagement in a hybrid workplace respect the constant pressures placed on their workforce and the time of their employees. Their time is not simply your money; it’s also their lives. And the time between the professional and the personal is blurred more than ever.
Show Your Employees You Value Their Time
Demonstrate to your employees that you recognize that time is also their currency. Emphasize the importance of time management. Increase their abilities with the right software that aids in task prioritization, group collaboration, project tracking, information sharing and of course calendaring. Consider training to maximize their use of these applications, as well as instruction on time management.
Finally, institute time-smart policies that are to the advantage of the individual and the whole. Some examples are:
Best practices for productive meetings that include inviting only essential personnel and sharing agendas in advance.
Learn More: Best Practices for Productive Meetings
Protocols for efficient communications to save employees time on email and messaging apps.
Learn More: Solutions for Email Overload
Guidelines that encourage daily breaks, time off, boundaries for working hours and leave policies for important life events.
How Will Your Company Drive Employee Engagement in a Hybrid Workplace?
Applying these guiding principles that drive employee engagement in a hybrid workplace will look different from one organization to another. Regardless of what shape your initiatives take, you may need help reaching your goal. Priority Management has 40 years of experience advancing behavioural change among working teams. Partner with us as you establish a hybrid work environment that unlocks your workforce’s greatest potential.
Priority Management is a worldwide training company with 55 offices in 15 countries. We have successfully trained more than two million graduates in Priority workshops. Our programs help companies and people be more effective and manage their workflow in and out of the office by providing tools, processes and discipline. Simply put - A Better Way To Work! Clients range from Fortune 500 companies, small-to-medium businesses and government/military employees.
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