Engagement and morale – what is the impact for home workers?
Many people are rethinking the role of work in their lives. Their preferences and priorities are changing. Workforce engagement has, therefore, never been as crucial as it is today. To strike a chord with the workforce, organisations need to focus on factors close to their hearts, such as belonging, well-being, flexibility and purpose. These all link together to create a holistic virtuous circle, lifting engagement levels rather than the reverse, which could easily happen if staff at home are simply left to their own devices.
Socialisation, mentoring and networking in a hybrid setting
People are social animals. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that social connection is important for us to thrive, both as human beings and at work. The sudden shift to remote work succeeded largely because existing social ties and relationships within organisations helped sustain our productivity. Making sure that this social capital continues to thrive in a hybrid environment will be critical.
Organisations can bring people together in the moments that matter (brainstorming sessions, informal gatherings, celebrating successes) and provide time for workers to engage in virtual “watercooler” connects (casual conversations not strictly related to work). They can also encourage employees to strategically plan their in-person days, choosing how they’d like to connect with others, and providing opportunities for informal interactions and mentoring.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion
In a hybrid work model, some staff will be in the office and others working remotely. Without an accompanying culture change, this can create a “two-tier” workforce, with primarily remote workers feeling like they may miss out on career- and relationship-building opportunities.
To mitigate this, managers need to be primed to check in, to understand and address any problems team members might have with the remote environment, and also need to learn to identify and avoid “proximity bias.” They should promote an inclusive team environment and demonstrate behaviours that support remote workers. Adopting equitable meeting practices—such as having everyone log into a virtual call regardless of location—can also help with inclusion. Lastly, organisations can provide their workforce with resources and training for career advancement, as well as options for different career paths that are partially or entirely remote.
Online recruitment and induction
As organisations step into the hybrid world, they can consider continuing with the virtual hiring practices adopted during the pandemic, and retaining some of the virtual elements of the recruitment process (e.g., virtual job fairs and events). Seeking geographically distributed talent can help access a wider and more diverse talent pool – a specific gain which could never be part of an ‘in person only’ culture.
For effective onboarding, organisations can arrange in-person interactions for new staff with managers or “onboarding buddies.” This will help new hires to build relationships and become familiar with all the unspoken work norms and aspects related to your working culture.
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