Posted on Monday, June 19, 2023 by Jackie Abbott
Remote, hybrid, or in-office? That is the question. It’s no surprise, employee’s number one requested benefit is flexibility, according to our 2023 State of Workplace Empathy Report.
Employee engagement is seemingly always top of mind for HR professionals. And it’s no wonder, because companies with high employee engagement experience 23% higher profitability. Alternatively, companies with low employee engagement see 18% to 43% higher turnover according to Gallup’s annual employee engagement study. That’s not good, considering the newest estimates of the cost of turnover can be as high as 3 to 4 times the employee’s salary.
Here are 5 initiatives HR professionals and C-Suite leaders can implement to improve employee engagement according to the organization’s workplace.
For in-office workplaces:
- Designate places in your office that are either collaborative spaces or quiet spaces. Encourage creativity and consider giving employees time in their day to work together or independently on employee-driven projects. Google notoriously offered time to their employees in the past and has brought about innovative products, like Gmail.
- Support work-life integration. Be understanding of the lifestyle adjustments that come with a commute, especially for those that are transitioning back to the office. Especially considering most workers that have the ability to work remotely, prefer to work in a hybrid arrangement according to Gallup.
- Welcome feedback from employees. When we discussed the return to office push with Iesha Berry, DocuSign’s Head of People Experience and Chief Diversity and Engagement Officer in a webinar on Employee Benefits News, Berry explained the importance of listening to employee concerns is a great first step, then offer them solutions that feel personalized to their needs to make them feel heard and valued.
- Offer regular team building, social times, or in-person training sessions. In-person environments are enhanced when there are people to share them with, so make time available for interaction. Many companies provide a 4’oclock on Friday “Happy Hour” to give employees a chance to get to know their colleagues and unwind before the weekend (providing drinks is nice, but not always necessary). Or set monthly friendly departmental competitions, trivia, etc.
- Be transparent. Share organizational goals and strategies at all levels of the organization. When employees know the “why” they’re more likely to engage in the “how.”
For hybrid workplaces:
- Flexible hours, flexible hours, flexible hours. Whenever possible, allow employees to control their own schedules. For example, allow them to come in after they’ve dropped off the kids at school, or leave a little early to go pick them up.
- Plan events and important in-person meetings well in advance. Having a hybrid workforce is tricky, considering some teams might be remote on certain days rather than others. If an important meeting is coming up, (i.e. a benefits fair for annual enrollment) be mindful of all employees’ time and schedule it far in advance.
- Host company-wide meetings both in-person and virtually. Chances are, there will always be one group that can’t make the benefits meeting. A virtual benefits fair may be a great option in addition to the in-person meeting.
- Establish “neighborhoods” or special interest groups based on non-work-related topics. During the webinar on EBN Marcy Klipfel, Businessolver’s Chief Engagement Officer, explained that Businessolver has Microsoft Teams channels based on geographic location, hobbies, and DEI efforts. In a hybrid arrangement, these can be leveled up to meeting in person as well.
- Encourage employees to find their flow. Employees should have the same expectations, the same ability to engage, and the same opportunities to get work done, whether it’s an in-office day, or a work-from-home day. Be respectful of differing workstyles.
And remote workplaces:
- Set healthy boundaries. Working where you live can make it hard to completely “clock out.” Outlook has a setting to schedule emails to be sent in the recipient’s respective time zones. Empower employees to keep to their typical “8 to 5.”
- Promote self-care. Schedule company-wide stretching, or meditation sessions, to encourage a 10-minute break once a week. Encourage employees to schedule a virtual lunch break with a coworker.
- Regularly “pulse check.” Ask your workforce how they’re feeling, and if they feel productive. If they do have a concern, listen to their feedback, and address it with leadership when appropriate.
- Over-communicate. There’s no face-to-face eavesdropping, “grapevine,” or casual “water-cooler” talk in a remote environment, so if there is an important message, make sure the same communications are being brought forward cross-platform, whether that’s in a virtual meeting, email, chat, or other channels.
- Trust. Jon Shanahan, CEO & Founder of Businessolver is a big believer in trusting your employees. In fact, some of Businessolver’s core tenets, our shared language, include “trust through transparency,” “assuming positive intent,” and “be real.” This shared language sets clear expectations and alignment across the business.
Bonus: For any work environment, Cross-training. When more employees know how to do cross-functional tasks, it allows for more flexibility and less burnout. For example, give someone else a chance to run the monthly reports, so the person who usually runs them feels like they can take time off responsibly, and come back to work with a clean slate.
Interested in more empathy insights? Read our full State of Workplace Empathy Report
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