“Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity.”– George Penn, Managing Vice President, Gartner
As companies try to bring more of the workforce back into the office, they are being confronted with differing hybrid vs full return to office models and reports from the experts, not to mention employees who are reporting higher levels of stress and varying rates of engagement. There’s no doubt that the effects of the pandemic and how it shifted societal views are being felt the world over. Now the question is becoming “Can we return to the way things used to be?” Or rather, “Should we be trying to?”
In June, Gallup released its State of the Global Workplace report, which states that 44% of the 122,000 employees it surveyed felt “a lot of” stress. These feelings of stress led to 51% of employees actively or passively looking for a new job. That rate of turnover is extremely detrimental to a company on every front. Between the hours needed to onboard new team members and the culture shift that happens with each new departure/arrival, progress and efficiency slow, which only leads to a rise in stress and frustrations.
So what should employers do? Will a sweeping return to office mandate help? Well, not necessarily. Gallup also reports that feeling disengaged has 3.8 times the influence on stress-levels as opposed to work location. It’s less about whether or not an employee is in office versus remote, and more about them feeling adequately utilized and properly cared for as an individual. In fact, when asking the “Quiet Quitters” of the survey, 41% say they would make their current company better with engagement and company culture, especially as it relates to recognition, opportunities to learn, fairer treatment, and clearer goals.
Now, this all should be viewed as an opportunity. An opportunity to reset. An opportunity to meet your employees where they are. Take the time to understand what their personal and professional goals are, help them connect with their colleagues, and have meaningful interactions with them on a regular basis. Otherwise you risk an increase in burnout and active disengagement. Here’s a few easy ways to go about making those meaningful connections.
1. Have weekly meetings with your employees
Nothing helps build an IRL connection like meaningful conversations. Whether they’re just a weekly check-in or an in-depth progress report, it’s important to make sure you have an understanding of how your employees are doing, beyond simply what they’re doing. Do they want an opportunity to grow in their career? Are they overwhelmed by a certain project? These meetings should be a process of making your employees feel both seen and heard. Find ways that you can help them take that next step in life.
2. Host a networking or team building event with a twist — in-person or remote
Think outside the wine mixer. The goal of networking and team building events is to make sure that people are fostering new connections in the workplace. CEI has loads of different ideas from game shows to casino nights to charitable events that will bring your whole team closer together and maximize their networking potential.
3. Be mindful of your remote employees
Make sure that every team member feels like they’re a part of the larger community. It is easier to have pop-in conversations when everyone is in the same building, but don’t neglect the talent that chooses to work from home. Make time for them, and actively seek out their input. Have a hybrid event coming up? Try to make it so that remote employees can still connect with their in-person cohorts.
The world has been forced to change a lot over the past few years. Every market and every industry is being presented with these changes. Don’t fear them. Accept these changes for the opportunities that they are. Opportunities to reconnect in new ways, and to build something brand new.