How to Foster Employee Engagement in a Hybrid Work Model

Christine McGuire Christine McGuire

April 18, 2024 Blog
Employees engaged in a hybrid work environment

It’s hard to believe we’ve just rounded out four years since the world turned life upside down trying to navigate COVID-19. In March 2020, companies raced to pivot strategies for safeguarding their employees while still keeping their businesses afloat. Some accomplished this more gracefully than others.  

Businesses that could send employees home to work remotely have only recently narrowed in on what their new normal looks like. Some have allowed employees to remain completely remote, while others have required “butts in seats” five days a week. The right answer, of course, varies widely among companies and industries, but somewhere in the middle seems to be the most favorable: a hybrid model. This model usually requires employees to be in the office between two and four days each week.  

This model seems to satisfy the need for collaboration while also allowing employees the flexibility of remote work. But even this happy medium has its challenges. How do you ensure remote employees aren’t siloed and everyone is engaged? We have some ideas: 

Technology allowed so many to continue forging ahead during the pandemic, and now it enables so many to continue working remotely. So using it to engage your team should be a no-brainer. 

  • Turn cameras on: Encourage employees to turn their cameras on in meetings. This way they’ll show up for others on the big screen and engage with coworkers in a way that phones don’t. Rotational cameras that follow whoever is presenting are value-adds to large meeting rooms.
  • Keep it interactive: Consider incorporating games like Kahoot or engaging the team with polls during meetings. Structuring engagement activities to occur every 10 minutes, such as thought-provoking questions, physical movement or brain teasers, ensures continued engagement from meeting participants. 
  • Open chat: Use Teams, Zoom or Slack channels for participants to add comments during meetings. Assign a person to manage the chat to ensure that questions and comments are not lost. 

Nobody likes arranging their schedule to attend a meeting they later learn they didn’t need to be at in the first place. So be intentional about scheduling, hosting and accepting meeting invites. 

  • Put the focus on relationship building: Have regularly occurring touch base meetings on the calendar to ensure you keep an open line of communication with managers and team members. It’s easier to cancel a meeting you don’t need than to try to find time last minute during a busy week.
  • Send an agenda: If you’re hosting a meeting, provide an agenda to invitees. If you’re invited to a meeting without an agenda, request one before the meeting.
  • Host onsite meetings: Typical meetings might involve both in-person and online attendees. But if you have a hybrid model, plan days a few times a month when everyone will be in the office. Use these days and meeting times for intentional collaboration.

Working both at home and in an office can feel like you’re always working. It takes discipline to shut off work when at home, but it’s crucial for employees’ health and well-being. Managers should set clear expectations for productivity and help their reports manage their time.  

  • Discourage off-hours emails: Encourage employees to close the app and the laptop when they leave work for the day to prevent late night and wee-morning replies that perpetuate an “always on” culture.
  • Encourage a dedicated space: Not every employee has a home office, but having a dedicated space, even if it’s a little corner setup with a plant can change the way an employee separates work from home. 
  • Prevent burnout: Encourage disengagement and time off when necessary to recover. Turning off when not in the office means they can be present and focused when they are there. 

Remote work — even if it’s just a couple days each week — can sometimes feel invisible, so it’s critical that managers recognize accomplishments and praise contributions. This not only makes your team want to work hard but keeps the team invested in projects and collaboration. 

  • Make it a team win: Every employee’s work contributes to the overall goal of the organization. Managers must recognize these efforts both 1:1 and publicly. 
  • Pivot the conversation to development: Praise for team members should go past a shoutout and a coffee card. Use accomplishments as an opportunity to discuss career development and progression.  
  • Call out purpose: If employees feel they are doing purposeful work, they’re more likely to stay long-term and be more content with their career. When calling out big wins, ensure leaders tie it back to purpose. 

Working in a hybrid model certainly has its challenges — fostering employee engagement among them — but it seems to be here for the long haul. The smartest thing leaders can do is embrace the model and adapt.  

Technology, intentional meetings, boundaries and recognition can keep employee engagement simmering. Use our Talent Cards and Talent+Ready solutions to engage your high-performers and put them on the path toward development and/or promotion. 

Christine McGuire

Christine McGuire

Christine is the Director of Consulting at Talent Plus where she delivers excellence in the areas of leadership, coaching, selection and talent development. In addition, she is a corporate facilitator who provides teams and individuals with increased skills to raise productivity.

“I use my talents to teach, helping clients and colleagues grow into their potential, always challenging them to believe they can reach new levels of skills and knowledge.”

Talents: Ego Drive, Persuasion, Response to Negativity, Executive Skill, Focus

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