The pandemic caused a significant transformation in the way employers approach employee engagement strategies. With more organizations operating on a hybrid-first basis, these strategies are now evolving to better suit the needs of modern workplaces.
But how exactly have things changed? What drives employee engagement in a hybrid environment? And what are some of the most effective engagement strategies to motivate, inspire, and unify diverse and hybrid workforces?
Increasing Employee Engagement to Improve Company Culture
Implementing an employee engagement strategy is by no means a new idea. Historically speaking, engagement has been previously measured by an employee’s satisfaction with their job—with no metrics or meaning beyond contentment with one's individual role.
For example, evaluating employee satisfaction 50 years ago didn’t necessarily translate into any further active engagement on the employees’ part—such as feeling a sense of purpose, having a deep commitment to their organization, or giving and receiving feedback.
In today's modern workplace, low engagement levels not only cause higher turnover rates and have negative impacts on employee morale. They also cost organizations trillions of dollars per year.
Today, nearly 80% of employees worldwide are not engaged, or are actively disengaged at work despite greater efforts from organizations, according to data from Gallup.
But what does this mean for employers?
Without prioritizing engagement, low employee engagement within an organization can lead to problems for both the overall well-being of employees and business outcomes. This may cause employees to struggle with personal and professional productivity, as well as:
- Increased burnout
- Lack of motivation
- Subpar customer or client relationships
Building a healthier and more engaging company culture for employees is crucial in today's world, and the responsibility for developing this culture reaches beyond HR. Leaders, managers, and HR teams need to collaborate to create strategies that motivate, inspire, and unify employees across the organization.
Organizations that emphasize engagement stand to experience:
- Heightened employee retention
- Lower absenteeism
- Increased productivity
- Enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Higher profitability
These benefits of a more engaged workforce are just the tip of the iceberg. The same Gallup study that revealed these outcomes also highlights six more, for a total of 11 performance outcomes that have a demonstrated connection to employee engagement.
So, what are some modern employee engagement strategies that are fit for hybrid work environments?
Effective Strategies for High Employee Engagement
The shift to a hybrid working environment has introduced unique challenges for employee engagement strategies.
Pre-pandemic, many organizations indirectly relied on the “proximity principle” which suggests that people who are together in physical environments are more likely to form meaningful relationships. This is important considering pre-pandemic research highlighted that strong work relationships were instrumental in increasing engagement and productivity.
In other words, many employee engagement strategies relied on togetherness as one of the larger means to facilitate engagement, with employee benefits and incentives being secondary engagement approaches.
But now that time in the office is divided with remote work, and after the revelation that engagement and benefits awards don’t necessarily correlate, what are some effective engagement strategies moving forward?
Gamification has taken over the gig-based economy in a big way—but it has applications in other industries as well.
This employee engagement strategy is all about making work processes more fun and rewarding to boost engagement and, therefore, loyalty and retention.
As one of its core qualities, effective employee wellness programming uses gamification tactics to incentivize employee participation and track workforce data. By offering rewards and the ability to visually track progress, like on a leaderboard, gamification has the power to inspire friendly competition and excitement among remote employees and in-office staff.
Related Reading: 6 Remote Team Building Activities to Boost Engagement
Organizational shifts to hybrid work environments aside, employee surveys remain an effective way to gather insightful data that can help inform future engagement strategies.
However, it’s important to ensure that after an engagement survey has been issued and results are collected, positive change actually takes place. That way, employees know that organizational intentions are genuine and their opinions are heard and taken seriously.
Here are a few sample questions to include on an employee survey:
- Does your work feel aligned with company goals?
- Do you receive enough recognition for your work?
- Do you feel that the leadership team is actively interested in your professional development?
- How would you describe the current company culture of your organization?
- Is having a corporate wellness program important to you? Why or why not?
3 Recognition and Celebration
Regular employee recognition is a key factor in engagement. A 2023 report discovered that weekly recognition drove employees’ sense of belonging at work—more than doubling the only 25% who reported feeling a sense of belonging in general.
Personalized and regular recognition is what employees are after. In fact, when asked how their leaders could increase employee engagement, 52% of those surveyed simply requested “more recognition.”
In a hybrid workforce, recognition strategies that go beyond the group and get more granular, specific, and personalized for each employee can help increase engagement. Flexible 1:1 meetings, milestone celebration events, and newsletter features that highlight individual accomplishments and wins are all great places to start.
Related Reading: 5 Fun Ideas to Boost Employee Recognition Across Your Organization
4 Transparency and Leadership Participation
By prioritizing transparency and modeling behavior that they wish to instill in their employees, leadership teams can position themselves for employee engagement success.
When employees know what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s much easier for them to build trust with management, which leads to greater rates of engagement.
Start with the hiring process, making sure to prioritize and institute transparency when it comes to salary, benefits, growth opportunities, and more. From there, performance management and career path and development opportunities will help keep employees engaged, according to Glassdoor.
Related Reading: 5 New C-Suite Roles That Can Transform Corporate Wellness
5 Build a Sense of Community
Researchers and HR professionals suggest that, after an organization has fulfilled its due diligence in providing benefits to help employees meet their basic needs, focusing on emotional well-being rather than material possessions can foster a sense of community.
Creating a culture and community of belonging requires three mutually reinforcing attributes, according to Deloitte:
- Comfort: When workers can be their authentic selves without fear of judgment and are treated equitably
- Connection: When workers can identify themselves as part of a team and have a sense of belonging with others in the organization
- Contribution: When workers feel valued, are regularly recognized for their contributions, and feel aligned with their organization's goals
Organizations that prioritize emotional well-being and focus on cultivating these three attributes can create a more inclusive and cohesive workplace culture that promotes a sense of belonging among its employees.
6 Help Employees Achieve Their Goals
Helping employees achieve their professional goals goes beyond simply providing helpful resources.
While that is a large part of the process, continued encouragement, consistent communication, and the ability to track one's progress toward those goals are all indispensable aspects of this employee engagement strategy.
Further, if leaders are able to link personal goals to business goals, they can help communicate the importance of individual employee progress and provide the motivation needed to succeed.
Other ways to foster employee goal achievement in a meaningful way include:
- Ensuring goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound)
- Providing a clear, actionable path to achievement
- Monitoring and personalizing individual employee progress
- Combining an employee's personal interest with their professional goals
Related Reading: Upskilling and Reskilling: Top Career Trends for 2023
Bolstering Employee Engagement Strategies with Wellbeing Initiatives
Increasing employee engagement starts with understanding and empathy. Only then can an effective and successful employee engagement strategy be built that motivates, inspires, and unifies employees in a way that makes engagement fun and meaningful.
Employee engagement and well-being go hand in hand. Contact us today and discover how.