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You’ve listened to your workforce and they’ve told you they prefer a blended approach to work moving forward. Your IT colleagues are putting the bells and whistles on the virtual-first environment. As you make the shift to your hybrid office culture, how will you ensure a collaborative employee experience when only a portion of the team is in one another’s company at any given time?
Strengthening your workplace network is what will help you stay competitive, because when employees feel they belong, they stay. Finding ways to deepen social connections, improve job satisfaction, and build psychological safety are all proven drivers of commitment. Here are some tips on how to foster employee involvement and culture-building in a blended workplace.
1. Leave no employee’s situation as an afterthought
Employees who are new to the hybrid model, especially if they’re new to the company, may find it harder to build relationships with coworkers while working remotely. And when workers are isolated, they’re more likely to feel they’re on their own and lose sight of their purpose at work.
Only some of your hybrid workforce will be running into one other in the physical office, so keeping ideas and information flowing must be more intentional and responsive. While designing the employee experience for those working remotely, for those at the office, and for those who do both, it’s equally important to recreate water cooler conversations and informal coffee chats in any work environment.
Employees want to participate with one another, and making it easy for every one of them to become involved at a level that’s meaningful to them correlates strongly with empowerment. When employees get the support they need, they succeed and grow. But in a hybrid environment, participating in virtual settings all day can get tedious, making it difficult to keep engagement high.
Consider implementing a way for colleagues to catch up with one another, for work or otherwise, through conversations in a program familiar to them and that they’re already using in their everyday workflow.
2. Connect creatively
Consider pairing employees, who normally would not interact, to meet virtually or in-person to get to know one another and their roles in the company. To drive ROI, utilizing a technology to augment a program such as this can be configured to drive specific organizational objectives such as reducing turnover, improving onboarding, or promoting cross-functional collaboration across geographies.
It’s also important to break out of the team bubble with cross-functional connections between those in different departments and geographical regions. This type of collaboration broadens your hybrid workforce’s horizons, capitalizes on the diversity of experiences, and can get innovative ideas sparking.
3. Collaborate with purpose
According to the recent 2023 Engagement and Retention Report from the Achievers Workforce Institute, 48% of employees reported feeling less connected with their company or colleagues since the start of the pandemic. Organizations that provide opportunities for employees to connect with one another and develop workplace friendships find that their employees report higher levels of job satisfaction and psychological safety, all of which reduce employee turnover.
At Achievers, we were inspired by customer conversations and beta testing with 37 organizations across multiple industries, including financial services, manufacturing, and retail. So we built a feature to satisfy the needs of employees, just like yours, who were hungry for a way to connect across the organization informally and with ease – but one that wouldn’t just create a new item on their to-do lists. Employee Connections was born to match employees with peers, managers, and executives to build relationships that support a strong sense of belonging to reduce turnover. A world-leading multinational food company was the first to pilot Achievers’ Employee Connections feature with its US-based employees.
4. Combat stress in challenging times
With all the ways in which companies and employees have been trying to keep on with “business as usual,” it’s important to remember that employees are likely experiencing much higher levels of stress, whether from health concerns, economic worries, or the struggle of balancing full-time work with childcare and homeschooling. As such, it’s important to stay alert to signs of stress in the hybrid workforce.
A program to connect employees can help them develop habits that improve their emotional health and coping skills. This proactive approach helps employees build resiliency, so over time they can bounce back from stressful experiences more quickly.
Remote work has highlighted the importance of reliable and intuitive technology that can help employees connect with each other, collaborate on projects, and get the job done. Now that we’re all set up, an equally reliable and intuitive connections program platform makes it much easier to support employees as they tackle the many challenges and opportunities that come with the hybrid workplace.
By combining flexibility, empathy, clear communication, and the right technology, your remote workforce can feel the support of their office “family,” no matter how far apart they are.