One of the indelible marks left by the pandemic on the way companies operate today has been its impact on traditional work structures. Remote working options — that had begun to find their footing in the past few years — were suddenly thrown into the limelight as employees had to start working from their homes almost overnight. This paradigm shift in the way companies carry out their operations is poised to spill over into the future. HR professionals need to start thinking about managing talent within an increasingly hybrid workforce, one in which part of it works remotely and the other comes to the office physically as and when needed.
With the redefined nature of work continuing, many HR departments must refigure ways to keep employees engaged. Here are a few principles to consider:
- Invest in robust communication channels: For HR professionals looking to boost employee engagement, facilitating communication between a hybrid workforce can prove advantageous or disastrous depending on the tools they use. Productivity and motivation levels rise when the company listens to its employees. Having robust yet streamlined ways to communicate helps employees find better ways to engage with the company.
With a hybrid workforce having a mix of those who can physically meet and engage with each other and those who work remotely, access to different communication channels can help keep engagement levels high. The key is to experiment with tools that work for your employees. While water-cooler conversations often don’t figure into any formal engagement programs, offering channels where remote workers can still engage with in-office counterparts might soon become a reality.
- Offer meaningful recognition: Rewards and recognition have often played a direct role in influencing employee productivity and keeping them motivated. With the shift towards a hybrid workforce, HR professionals will have to rethink their rewards mix to better track and recognize employee achievements. By tracking workflow better and ensuring those who work remotely end up getting recognized for their work regularly, HR professionals can help bring a sustainable change to engagement programs. Different modalities like dedicated internal channels for recognition, employee of the month programs tuned to reflect the work of remote workers, or peer-nominated programs can be used by HR professionals to recognize and reward employees.
- Blend personalized learning and skills building: Learning today has become increasingly technology-driven — and digital systems can be fine-tuned so that both in-office and remote workers can interact and engage with the business meaningfully. L&D leaders will have to develop hybrid learning plans that meet the expectations of employees who work in-office and remotely. Charting a similar learning journey for both can help raise employee engagement. A recent Skillsoft report looks at driving learner engagement in more detail.
- Develop your managers: Managers are most often the face of employee engagement programs. Being overworked, feeling isolated from the rest of the team, and communication issues can hamper employee engagement. And often, it is the managers who can be the first point of finding and addressing these issues. With a hybrid workforce greatly depending on the use of technology, managers should work well with both in-office and remote workers. By offering personalized opportunities, flexibility, and managing workload efficiently, the right managers can be crucial in maintaining a hybrid workforce.
- Strengthen the value of culture: Employee engagement for a hybrid workforce will mean more than just physical meetings, team collaborations, and group meeting sessions. Companies will have to ensure their employees are actively involved and enabled to achieve business goals. This requires a culture that supports remote work and facilitates cross-functional collaboration necessary for the success of a hybrid work model.
The pandemic spurred the rise of remote work. As companies begin to explore new ways of operating, many face the challenge of working with a hybrid workforce — one that has in-office workers at one end and people working remotely at the other. While it remains a helpful way for companies to continue growing in times of uncertainty, it renews the pressure on HR professionals to keep a diverse workforce engaged.