A Hybrid Workplace: Putting Employee Engagement First

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A Hybrid Workplace: Putting Employee Engagement First
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COVID-19 and its endless loop of variants have indeed altered the conventional 9-to-5 work at the office. It has completely transformed the way employees have been working for decades. We have to admit that this is not an easy time for both employees and organizations. With the constant disruptions caused by pandemics, most companies and employees have adapted well to the work-from-home and hybrid cultures. But, talent management, employee engagement, and employee satisfaction have become more critical and challenging at the same time.

Moreover, engaged employees perform better than those who aren't. According to the Gallup report, positive employee engagement accelerates productivity by 17%, customer satisfaction by 10%, sales by 20%, profit by 21%, and employee absenteeism by 41%. Thus, employee engagement is crucial. With all this said, here is the million-dollar question: how can employees be engaged in today’s hybrid work culture? The talent market has long been a problem to increase employee engagement, but the issue has only grown worse now as many people prefer to work remotely. Maintaining employee engagement and improving culture will be essential for businesses to cope with the hybrid work environment.

Before we move on, let's clarify what Hybrid workplace model actually is.

The hybrid work is our new normal

One of the most impactful changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic is the hybrid workplace, which is likely to last for a long time to come. Several employees who worked from home during the pandemic appreciated the flexibility remote working offers. In another survey conducted by Gallup, 91% of US employees who work remotely want to continue to do so for at least a portion of their week. Employees seem to be willing to sacrifice some of the advantages of going to the office to work remotely. Many employees are willing to accept pay reductions to work remotely; many would rather quit their jobs than go to work, which is a leading factor in the “Great Resignation.”

A competitive labor market makes it challenging for businesses to return their entire staff to full-time employment. In this circumstance, the trend of keeping employees in an office and working remotely appears destined to continue. As the name suggests, a hybrid work model includes both remote and in-office work for the employees of an organization. Each organization has its own rules for this setup. Many organizations allow employees to choose a day they want to work from home and come into work, while others set a fixed working day for each employee.

Read More: Top Reasons Why Record Number of Employees are Leaving their Work?

Modern Hybrid Workforce Demands A Modern Approach To Employee Engagement  

As a result of more than two years of pandemic survival, employee experiences, expectations and priorities have changed. Thus, putting employee engagement strategies on hold is no longer an option for companies. A Deloitte survey found that 94% of US professionals believed part-time work from home would benefit them as they can enjoy complete freedom and work flexibility. In addition, nearly one-third of employees said they are ready to leave their job if their company does not allow remote working. Thus, it is evident that hybrid and remote work culture is here to stay. Organizations must therefore adapt their employee engagement processes as quickly as possible to meet the challenges of this transition.

In this article, we have put together a list of top steps to help you find the right balance and have a hybrid work culture that puts employees first.   

  1. Analyze employees' hybrid work preferences

    Organizations around the world have put a hold on their return-to-work strategies in the wake of Omicron and the new Deltacron variant, and most companies have returned to the hybrid work culture. Taking your employees' preferences into account is now more important than ever. According to the Slack report, employees are attracted to the hybrid work model because it allows flexibility. A flexible workplace makes it easier for employees to balance their work and life. Employees who have control over their work schedules have more time to take care of the things that arise in their lives: running errands, picking up their kids from daycare, or being home for a delivery. Work-life balance is a key priority for many countries, and that’s why many have come up with the idea of a four-day work week.

  2. Keep communication frequent and transparent

    Businesses often encounter issues with communication even in normal times. Since everyone works remotely now, it is natural for employees to feel disengaged and unaware of what exactly is going on in the company and their contribution to the bigger picture. It makes them feel left out and demotivated when they don't hear about the overall progress of your organization and how departments work. Thus, every organization must maintain robust communication with their employees. The success of any business in this pandemic time depends on good communication, which is often incorporated into any culture model designed to evaluate employee engagement.

    Due to this, Fortune 500 companies and start-ups have shifted their investments to a new set of collaboration tools for the hybrid workforce. Collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Slack, and MS Teams fit this category. Ultimately, businesses should continue to value communication and search for new methods to help keep employees engaged as the workplace changes.

    Relevant Article: How Collaborative Platforms Like MS Teams Enhance Communication?

  3. Take regular feedback from employees and make prompt, data-driven decisions.

    How businesses collect input from their employees is another area where the pandemic has significantly impacted. Real-time, and decision-supporting surveys have become increasingly popular in this unprecedented time. Using an automated employee survey, you will be able to understand how your employees feel and discover new growth opportunities. Creating an engaged workforce within a hybrid work environment can be achieved by gathering regular employee feedback and tracking incidents correctly with the HR team.

  4. Prioritize employee health and wellness

    Health and wellness are the newest mainstays on HR's checklist. It is no longer an emerging trend; it has become a must-have. It is crucial to drive employee engagement to evaluate, monitor, and act on the feedback received via wellbeing surveys.

    When businesses shift to the new hybrid working paradigm, employee mental health should remain a top priority. By setting up one-on-one meetings or hosting mental health awareness events, businesses can create a climate where employees feel comfortable talking about their wellbeing. In terms of productivity, what you put into employee relationships will determine how successful they are. Psychological well-being states are increasingly recognized as an essential component of human behaviour, alongside productivity. Strong work culture is crucial for employee happiness and productivity, including in remote and hybrid environments.

  5. Give your employees a strategic vision.

    As we enter the third month of 2022, strongly advises that companies should spend time with their employees and guide them through their ambitions for the year. It's critical that your employees' messages from their managers align with the company's priorities as communicated by your executives.

  6. Recognizing achievement in an effective manner

    It is essential to give employees visibility through meaningful mentions and rewards to showcase their growth and avoid stagnating in their careers. In a hybrid environment, it's effortless to miss outstanding performances and performers, making this a significant factor. In order to ensure continuous recognition, employers must develop more miniature and more subtle recognition programs. Hence, employee rewards and recognition need to be reimagined and tweaked to meet the needs of the new generation. It is crucial for organizations to design customized engagement strategies that keep employees engaged, motivated, and connected.

  7. Make employee training and development a priority

    Globally, employee training and development programs play a critical role in business success. By providing employees with high-quality, comprehensive employee training programs, employers can help them improve the skills they already possess and fill in any knowledge gaps they have. Employee training and development programs will also help your team achieve a higher level of competency so all team members can share a common set of skills and knowledge. Your organization will benefit from a program like this that will repair any weak links in the organization and distribute the workload more evenly among your workforce.

    An efficient employee training program helps companies and employees in various ways such as:

  • Enhance overall performance

  • Boost team morale

  • Improve ROI

  • Reduce supervisory requirements

  • Ensure organizational flexibility and stability

    8. Invest in the right tools and technology

    Investing in the right tools and technologies is necessary to assure a thriving hybrid work culture and employee engagement. As a result of the pandemic, many organizations switched their essential communications technologies, such as video chat and instant messaging. To effectively prepare for the long-term evolution of the workplace, employers must implement modern technology solutions like AI-powered employee service desks that enable employees to thrive while also moving the needle for their organizations.

    An organization that has invested in digital tools, aligned them successfully with business objectives and team workflows, and gotten everyone on the team to use them routinely will exhibit these traits.

  • There have been substantial reductions or eliminations of mundane tasks.

  • The workplace has become more efficient.

  • Instant employee support

  • Employee productivity has increased.

  • Employees are better connected, more knowledgeable, and more dedicated to the organization.

  • Users can easily share and locate information with consistency across devices and locations.

  • Hiring and retaining top talent has become easier.

  • Your workplace technology affects your employees' ability to collaborate, communicate, and innovate.  

Here are some reasons why employees enjoy leading hybrid teams:

  1. Enhancing work-life balance

    A flexible or hybrid work culture helps an employee control their schedule more easily. Thus, they can manage their time for professional and personal activities.

  2. Higher Productivity

    The hybrid work model allows employees to schedule their work at their most convenient time. Depending on their schedule, they can schedule their work as they choose. People might be productive during the early morning hours, while others may be productive at night. As a result, employees can utilize their time in whatever manner they find convenient.

  3. A higher level of job satisfaction

    People in the past had a hard time managing their personal lives and careers. As a result of flexible work arrangements, employees can work from home and manage their personal lives. Employee job satisfaction has risen as a result.

  4. Healthy Employees

    The majority of employees are concerned about their health and safety during this ongoing pandemic. They are concerned about contracting an infection, so they prefer to work from home or observe hybrid work cultures for the sake of their health and family's health.  

Why a hybrid work model is beneficial to employers ?

  1. Productivity increased

    Hybrid working can also benefit organizations by improving their employees' mental well-being. A happy and balanced workforce is far more likely to be productive. It is likely that companies that can maintain a highly productive, happy workforce will be far more competitive than those that cannot.

  2. Higher Retention Rates

    There is the concern that hybrid/virtual working is negatively affecting retention. Employers are concerned that if employees don't come into the physical office each day, they won't form close relationships with their colleagues or grow attached to the organization's vision. When recruiters start calling, these employees will be less likely to remain loyal to their current companies than they would have been in the old work-based culture. There is evidence that companies that do not offer appealing virtual and hybrid working packages are losing their employees to companies willing to provide these employees with what they want. As a result, hybrid working may have two potential benefits: higher retention rates and an improved ability to attract top talent.

  3. Reduces office space expenses

    An organization can reduce its costs in many ways by managing a hybrid workforce. Having a small office space is sufficient for a hybrid work model considering only a few employees will be present at any time. The organization is, therefore, able to save on rent costs.

  4. Engage global talent

    Hybrid and remote work models make it easy for organizations to hire top talent at different locations. This generates a larger talent pool, which allows organizations to access specialized skills, increasing productivity. Even though many organizations reap the benefits of hybrid work models, they face a major challenge: Employee engagement. Even though the hybrid work model is the future for many industries, organizations still need to implement smart strategies to improve employee engagement. 

Conclusion: Make Employee Engagement A Continuous Process

Whether your employees are remote, hybrid, or on-site next decade, don't delay engaging them. In this pandemic era, it is imperative to keep employee expectations and needs in mind, and consider putting together an action plan to fulfil those expectations. An engaged employee is highly invested in and enthusiastic about his or her work and company.

Initially, there was much hope for a return to "normal" in the year 2022, but due to the outbreak of the Omicron and Deltacron variants, organizations are continuing to use hybrid employees for some time yet. Therefore, having a plan in place to keep employees engaged and enhance culture is critical. However, companies that integrate engagement into their corporate strategies see significant gains year after year thanks to reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, higher profits, and lower turnover.

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