You might think your hybrid strategy is working well, but do your employees agree? Jabra, a Danish audio equipment company, recently surveyed 5,000 knowledge workers around the world and found that barely more than half of the employees believe their companies are prepared for hybrid work, compared to 74% of executives.
There is a lot at stake in making the hybrid successful. On the one hand, talent retention: More than half of employees say they don’t want to work for a company that requires full-time work on site. A well-executed hybrid strategy can also improve employee engagement, productivity and satisfaction, thereby strengthening the corporate culture.
A poorly executed hybrid workplace, on the other hand, could lead to a loss of talent and leave the employees who stick around feeling demotivated, isolated and exhausted.
My company has worked with clients on the design and execution of hybrid workplace strategies. Here are what we consider to be the main warning signs that your hybrid strategy needs help:
Employees feel like they are always “on”.
If employees are feeling isolated or exhausted due to a poor work-life balance, you need to help them set healthy boundaries by clearly communicating the company’s expectations for hybrid work, modeling leadership behavior. and empowering employees to follow suit.
Scheduling hours on chat platforms, not sending emails in the middle of the night, taking breaks and vacation days – and being blunt about it all – are just a few examples of how you can show employees that they have some autonomy in designing their day. Just because their home and office are one, doesn’t mean they can never give up their jobs.
Significant declines in performance could be another indicator of declining employee well-being. If people regularly use avoidance techniques like showing up late for meetings or refusing to use their cameras during video conferences, it can mean that people are feeling down and your hybrid strategy needs to better connect them to their teammates. .
You are losing the war for talent.
You’ll know your hybrid strategy is failing if your attrition rate suddenly increases. When an employee does not have a strong connection to the company or their teammates and logs most of their hours from home, the friction to change jobs is dangerously low, especially when you add a boiling job market. .
For the hybrid to work, you need to foster strong relationships between your teams and help employees feel connected to the company’s mission. It’s more difficult when people aren’t physically together, so your hybrid strategy should include intentional relationship building.
During a big transition such as moving to a permanent hybrid job, it’s also a good idea to dig into what keep the employees. Is it because they love your mission and find their work meaningful? Is it the people? Opportunities for career development? Whatever the reasons, reinforce them to make sure your best people have a good reason to stay.
Employees seem confused as to what the hybrid means to them.
The Jabra study referenced above also found that 28% of employees I feel there is a lack of clarity as to when to work on site and what work needs to be done there.
Perhaps this is not surprising, because “hybrid” is a nebulous term and companies use it in several different ways. It can mean anything from going to the office a few designated days a week to having full autonomy to choose when and where you work.
In other words, it is essential to clearly define your hybrid vision and then codify the definitions of hybrid in the workplace along with all associated work standards. What does the hybrid mean for your organization as a whole? What does this mean for each role? What are the expectations for being in the office? How will the collaboration work? What is the protocol for meeting certain people on site and others connecting remotely? If you require people to be in the office every now and then, why?
People are looking for a foothold in their working life, and it is important that they know how free they are to manage and define their own workday.
Your leaders measure employees by hours worked, rather than productivity, results and results.
Seventy percent of employee engagement is driven by their manager, but in the hybrid world, leaders can’t rely on the same playbook that worked when everyone was in the office all the time. They need to know how to establish intentional points of contact with their employees and virtually nurture strong relationships.
Organizations need to coach leaders to reframe their perception of what makes a hard worker. High visibility (the worker who arrives early, stays late, responds to emails at all times of the day) is no longer relevant (and never should have been in the first place).
Instead, managers should focus on the results that employees produce. They should reorganize productivity measures, linking them to work done and not hours logged. Leaders need to know how to set and cascade goals and hold regular progress meetings so people know where they stand before it’s time to assess performance. Above all, leaders need to be confident in their employees, so that employees don’t fear being “seen” as a hard worker.
The hybrid is the future, but switching to the hybrid is no easy task. It requires intentional action that fits into a new culture of performance. If you notice any of the symptoms above, it may be a sign that you need to fine-tune your strategy to start reaping the rewards of talent retention, employee engagement, and culture.