Engaging Employees in the Hybrid Workplace

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Monday, January 16, 2023
By Simone Hammer
Photo by iStock/PeopleImages
The right technological solutions can help an organization motivate and show appreciation for its employees, whether they’re working at home or on site.

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  • A recent Gallup poll shows that only 32 percent of full- and part-time employees are engaged at work, a factor contributing to reduced productivity and higher employee turnover.
  • Companies that adopt a “people-first” approach will create happier, more motivated, and more productive workforces in ways that improve organizational performance. 
  • Organizations with a hybrid workforce can use technology to support meaningful collaboration, deliver in-depth learning, tap the power of data, and ensure that all employees feel heard and valued.

People are the most important assets in your organization. But do your employees really know their importance and feel valued? In many cases, the answer is likely to be no. In fact, in today’s hybrid work environments, most organizations are finding it more challenging than ever to show employees how much they are appreciated, beyond offering additional compensation.

Recent surveys confirm that most employers are faltering in this regard—employee engagement is at an all-time low and resignations are at an all-time high. For example, a 2022 Gallup poll shows that only 32 percent of full- and part-time employees in the U.S. are engaged. Globally, the percentage plummets to 21 percent. In 2021, 41 percent of global workers were considering leaving their employers within a year, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index.

At a time when dispersed global workforces, flexible working policies, and hybrid offices have become the norm, it is more important than ever that organizations put their people first. Engaged employees are happier, more productive, more motivated, and have longer tenures with their companies. Effective engagement is a critical factor in employee satisfaction, employee retention, and organizational performance.

So, how can you maintain an engaged workforce in the global hybrid workplace and avoid a brain drain that costs your organization its best talent? First and foremost, you must invest in clear, active, strategy-driven measures that put people first. And one key element that will make these measures possible is choosing the right technology.

Technology Enriches the Hybrid Workplace

When looking to improve employee engagement, your first step should be to consult with your employees about the foundation of their experience: their workspaces. Ask them their preferences for working in the office versus working remotely. What will help them the most? What support do they need? Their feedback will help you identify the changes you need to make.

Most employees of the hundreds of global organizations served by our company, Barco, have been spending equal time at their home offices and at company headquarters. Among our clients, we have found that different strategies work best to improve employee engagement in each type of environment. If you are managing hybrid teams, consider this advice:

Enable hybrid at the headquarters. First, design your headquarters office to enable successful hybrid work. This starts with the basics. Ensure that each room at your headquarters has good lighting, clear acoustics, and ergonomic furniture to make the workspace as comfortable as possible.

Once these elements are in place, the next step is to reduce the number of open spaces, which can make hybrid work and collaboration more difficult. Instead, set up enclosed “collaboration-first” rooms that enable real, authentic interactions among workers, regardless of where those workers are located. Designing collaboration-first spaces will bring employees together to connect in meaningful ways. More important, it will make them feel more engaged with each other and with the organization.

Using technology to support equitable participation is essential to engaging employees, which makes it important to supply remote employees with quality equipment for home use.

Now, you can focus on implementing technology that will enhance engagement even further. For example, you can equip your spaces with powerful software paired with suitable hardware—including cameras, microphones, speakers, and screens that have been purpose-built to support hybrid meetings, training, and internal events.

Remove barriers for home office workers. Using technology to support equitable participation is essential to engaging employees. That’s why it’s so important to supply remote employees with quality equipment for home use. Employees working from home will need high-resolution computer screens, external cameras, and headphones with built-in microphones that will enable high-quality, cross-media collaboration.

By supplying the right technology, you will reduce barriers and build strong bridges between employees in both the physical and virtual worlds. You can make sure that everyone is visible and heard, whether they’re on site or online.

As a result, employees not only will feel more connected to each other, but also will know that their voices count regardless of where they are located. Achieving this objective is especially important for employees working remotely on a permanent basis.

Furthermore, you also will ensure all employees will become more involved. The more you can make employees feel as if their contributions are valued, the more you will create a more inclusive workforce, attract more diverse employees, and bring diversity of thought from people around the world. A diverse organization is more likely to have employees who share richer insights, deliver more innovative ideas, increase their productivity, and improve business results.

Technology Makes Training More Accessible

Once the basics of the hybrid workplace are in place, you then can tap the power of technology to deliver employee training—an essential activity for both organizations and employees.

Ironically, while technological advancements are enriching hybrid work environments, they also are automating jobs, creating new skill gaps, and making other skills redundant. In this fast-paced era, the skills required for most jobs will change every few years. If businesses are to thrive, they must provide employees with training on a mandatory and continuous basis.

And it’s not just employers who are aware of this new reality—employees realize it as well. This means that employees value companies that put people first by investing in professional development and engaging employees in successful training experiences.

According to a 2019 study by LinkedIn, 94 percent of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their upskilling and reskilling. In other words, by providing training, you not only develop employees’ skill sets, but also motivate, retain, and engage your talent pool.

Choosing purpose-built technology solutions that support the learning goals of both your organization and your employees is a crucial step to designing a vibrant hybrid work environment.

That said, delivering training in a hybrid workplace can be a daunting feat—and the challenges involved are multiplying by the day. Organizations must discern the right skills their workers need for business success, establish learning objectives, and devise learning paths. Then, companies must pair those objectives and paths with the right training methods—choosing, for example, whether training is synchronous or asynchronous and whether it is delivered online, on site, or in hybrid formats.

Choosing purpose-built technology solutions that support the learning goals of both your organization and your employees is a crucial step to designing a vibrant hybrid work environment. The right technology can help both remote and on site employees learn in interactive, captivating, and flexible ways. When you enable increased meaningful collaboration and in-depth learning, you can make employee engagement skyrocket.

Technology Helps Unlock the Power of Data

The right technological solutions also can help you put people first by generating valuable data on your employees’ attention, interactions, and response rates to different interventions. You can then use this data to assess, measure, and improve your engagement strategies, as well as your organization’s overall progress.

The data will help you set key performance indicators and demonstrate impact. Using a data-driven approach, you can prove return on your investments in both training and technology. 

Or, if your initiatives do not give the expected results, you will be empowered to make the necessary adjustments. You’ll be able to design different and improved initiatives that are even more employee-oriented and that provide more engaging experiences.

Technology That Suits Your Workplace

It is critical to your organization’s success that you show employees that they are your most important resource. At Barco, we provide a reliable team of experts who can help support that goal, as well as premium solutions to enable people-first approaches in hybrid workplaces.

By adopting the right technology, your global organization can maintain the high levels of employee engagement it will need to retain employees, grow its workforce, and ensure that it will thrive in an increasingly fast-paced world.
Simone Hammer
Global Sales and Customer Success Director, weConnect Immersive Conferencing and Collaboration Solutions, Barco
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