3 ways to drive employee engagement in hybrid workplaces

The bottom line is this: if your employees are not mentally engaged, feeling valued or enjoying their positions, it is highly likely that they will not be productive. The University of Warwick found that happier employees were 12% more productive than their counterparts. 
3 ways to drive employee engagement in hybrid workplaces | Probe CX

At the 2010 American Library Association conference in Washington DC, Erin Davis said “a happy employee is a productive employee”.

Now let’s keep these statements in mind when considering the rise in popularity of hybrid work environments. With more than 50% of employees not wanting to return to the office and only 9% of the global workforce expected to ever fully return, the ‘hybrid workplace’ is now a strategic focus for organisations who understand the need to provide flexibility for their employees or risk losing them.

In this blog, we will take you through a hybrid working model, how to make it work for your organisation and three ways to sustain company culture.

What is a hybrid working model?

A hybrid working model blends the idea of people working from the office and remotely. This can provide employees with the benefit of being home when they need to, say for school pickups or deliveries, while allowing them to be in the office as necessary; for important meetings or in-person training orientations. It’s flexible in itself as it comes down to the needs of the employees and the organisation. One employee could need to work from home three days a week, another might need to be in the office for four days and so on. The benefits? Higher productivity and increased employee satisfaction. 

A study by Stanford University illustrated how hybrid workplaces increased employee productivity by 13% and decreased employee attrition by 50%. But what do the employees have to say? Zoom asked employees for feedback on engaging in a hybrid working model. 65% of the respondents stated their ideal work arrangement was the hybrid work structure compared to fully remote work and back-to-office models.

Types of hybrid work models

Here are a few popular hybrid work models:

  • At-will model: employees are provided with the flexibility to come to the office at their own convenience, whenever and however they want.
  • Split-week model: working weeks are divided into remote days and office days.
  • Shift-work model: organisations operate a rotational roster where employees who prefer mornings can be allocated those shifts and afternoon or evening shifts are allocated accordingly. Something to note is this model was already present pre-pandemic era with hospitals and many manufacturing companies requiring shift-work rosters to be implemented to ensure 24/7 coverage.
  • Week-by-week model: allows employees to alternate weeks working remotely and in the office. This is a popular option for employees located considerable distances from the office as it allows them to consolidate their travel and take alternating weeks off from their commute.

So how do you make the hybrid workforce model work for your organisation? Start by showing an understanding and level of empathy for your teams. Do your employees have everything they need in order to thrive in a hybrid work environment? 

Build trust with your team. Hybrid work models are not another opportunity to have managers micro-manage your remote working employees. If you want them to be productive, give them the flexibility they need and they will likely reward you with higher levels of productivity, regardless of their location.

How to sustain company culture in a hybrid work model

No matter where they are located, keeping employees engaged is a must. Do you want higher returns, better customer service metrics or more positive working environments? Invest in employee engagement initiatives; it’s that simple.

The best way to navigate a hybrid working environment is to really connect with your employees. Success in these transitions will look different from business to business, but by adopting these three ways to drive employee engagement, implementing a hybrid work model will get easier.

  1. Foster seamless communication

    How do your employees get notified of important changes within your organisation? Are they included in important inter-organisational changes and news? A hybrid work model won’t have you coordinating quick morning catch-ups in the boardroom or kitchen to go over company news anymore. Sure, you may have a few teams in the office on a Monday afternoon, but what about those working remotely or from home? The best way to ensure all your employees feel included is by implementing an employee newsletter or posting in social media groups weekly, fortnightly or as required.

    Is there a new service or product due to be launched next week? Let them know via an internal email chain. Are there upcoming job openings within your organisation? Why not let your employees be the first to know with a private social media post in the Facebook group. Are there professional development training opportunities or sessions being held next month? Include it in the next fortnightly newsletter. It’ll help your employees feel more engaged with the comings and goings of your business.

  2. Don’t underestimate the importance of employee feedback

    It’s one thing to check productivity ratings or assess the quality of output for your employees who are working in a hybrid model to test if they are 'happy or not'. It’s another to actually measure it and let them have their say.

    A great way to do so is by investing in employee engagement tools to measure just how engaged your employees actually are. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a great way to start. NPS is normally used by organisations to measure customer engagement with the question being: “How likely are you to recommend (insert your organisation’s name) to a friend or colleague?”. 

    Let’s switch it to be employee-focused instead. The question then becomes: “How likely as you to recommend our organisation as a preferred place of work to a friend or past colleague?”. Consider implementing an eNPS to measure your organisation’s engagement index.

  3. Shout coffees

    You read that right, get your leaders to sit down and shout their teams, individually, a coffee. Have them create a comfortable environment, away from the office if you can or over a communications platform like Zoom. Get them to ask how they can provide a better hybrid working environment and in doing so, improve their employee experience. 

    Example questions they can ask include:

    • Is there anything that is preventing you from feeling engaged at work?
    • What kind of hybrid working model works best for you and why?
    • How can we better support your needs as an employee?

    It might even be best to send this to your employees ahead of this ‘coffee break’ to give them the opportunity to really sit down and provide you with quality answers. Allocate time into their working day for them to do this. It’s not something that should be done over the weekend or at the end of their work day.

    If that’s too headstrong, maybe create an anonymous email that employees can send concerns or ideas about facilitating a better hybrid working environment and address them in the newsletter or email idea above or in weekly meetings. The most important part of this is to show you care and that your employees are being heard. Implement realistic action plans in response to these sit-downs to start working towards a more engaged hybrid working environment.

Where does candidate experience enter into the equation?

Investing in a good candidate experience is just as important as investing in ongoing employee engagement initiatives. With 55% of employees preferring to work remotely at least three days a week, it would be in the best interest of organisations looking to hire to implement hybrid working models as a major selling point to potential employees. Candidate experience is not just about the initial employer-candidate touchpoint. If done right, it can lead to positive experiences that help set up a good foundation for prospective employees.

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