Keeping Teams Engaged in Hybrid Work Structures
Hybrid work models have never been so high in demand - whether people are working from home, the office or in an entirely different country is a dynamic decision these days. While there are a number of benefits to this way of working, it also comes with a bunch of challenges for team leads and managers: keeping employee engagement high. Because communication takes place via online tools more than in person, lunch breaks are a thing of the past just as much as the quick catch-up over a coffee.
In short: employees potentially disconnect increasingly over time, which affects team dynamics and innovation. We have a couple of suggestions to keep employees engaged and churn rates to a minimum.
Communication is key
Especially a hybrid environment needs transparent communication within the company. This means setting a good example starting right at the top of the company. There is a new company policy? Don't only inform your team, but provide the why, the desired outcome, and best practice tips translating theory into action.
For a high level of transparency, it makes sense to use a comprehensive set of digital tools. For instance: communicating a new company policy and its implementation via various tools such as calendar invites, Slack and Jira allows to have everyone on the same page even with asynchronous working hours, thus avoids potential information asymmetries.
Of course, there is more to a high-value communication than just making sure everyone is in the loop about company updates. Success should be met with the appropriate celebration and appreciation. Conflicts or misunderstandings should be addressed quickly thanks to regular check-ins. A safe working environment should be created so employees feel comfortable enough to give and ask for feedback.
Living corporate values
Working in a hybrid setup also comes with many days that team members are working remotely. Consequently, a company's corporate culture can suffer or take a turn to the worse, if not carefully monitored.
One prominent example are working hours. Let's say you observe certain team members to work overtime on a regular basis. There can be very different reasons as to why this is the case, so how can this be addressed appropriately by you as a team lead?
- Communicate expectations clearly - overtime should not be the norm.
- Offer support and get to the bottom of the issue.
- Set realistic goals and deadlines.
- Set a good example of your own work-life balance.
Providing a platform to discuss your employees professional development on a regular basis is another good example for a positive corporate culture. Which competencies might they want to intensify and how can you support? What are potential next steps in the company? Doing so will make employees feel heard and envision a future in the company.
Bringing individuals together - in person and virtually
Different projects, priorities and working hours can easily have negative consequences to team dynamics. Actionable suggestions? We got them.
Every new employee has a fixed contact person
Starting a new job remotely can make it insanely difficult to connect with co-workers and to understand the company structures. Allocating a contact person per new employee can do the trick here and drive the integration forward.
Establish 1:1 meetings
Having regular 1:1 meetings in the calendar encourages a personal connection and creates opportunity for open conversations for both, project-related and more general topics. An agenda in advance can be very helpful to prepare and provides structure.
Regular team activities
There are many ways do this: from regular (virtual) lunches over afternoons spent together on socio-political causes to a full-day team event. Depending on budget and purpose there is hardly a limit.