Driving Employee Engagement to Increase Collaboration Across the Organization As businesses transition into the post-pandemic world, senior executives are strategizing on how to connect their employees, even if many are remote or hybrid workers. HR leaders must grapple with the challenge of bringing together employees, who may not ever meet in person. It is essential to improving employee engagement and experience (EEE), which is necessary for retention.
In the latest state of HR report, 30% of HR professionals said that EEE is their top priority. After all, only 36% of American workers said they were engaged in their work, according to a recent Gallup poll. The challenge is obvious.
REPORT: State of HR
CHROs and other HR leaders play a significant role in fostering communication and collaboration across an organization. Discover the ways they can help colleagues connect with one another regardless of where they are working:
Invest in the Right Technology
By now, organizations are full of Zoom experts. Many already have invested in platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams to communicate with one another. However, some companies have griped about videoconferencing among in-office and at-home workers. Some are looking into possible upgrades. Companies are determining whether to have their teams sign onto a videoconference on an individual device, even if some of them are in the office and could be in a conference room. Workers should have access to the right technology and meetings should promote equity, so everyone can participate.
Facilitate Frequent Communication
Harvard Business Review refers to the 5Cs: communication, coordination, connection, creativity, and culture. Communication is the foundation of the 5Cs. When the pandemic began, HBR warned that communication would be a great challenge with remote workers. Some companies now have senior leaders check in daily with the workforce. IBM began hosting weekly Q&As with its CEO and other executives.
HR leaders should encourage senior executives and managers to check in frequently with remote and in-office workers to ensure equity and connection. They should be open to sharing and transparent about expectations and any challenges they are facing.
SpencerStuart, a consultancy, refers to it as “speaking the truth” on the company’s blog for senior executives. PwC recommends that leaders start having standing office hours, during which they are available to answer questions in a virtual breakout room or on Zoom. Facilitating communication means providing the infrastructure – shared calendars and proper videoconferencing, for example – as well as encouraging and helping to organize this kind of engagement.
Establish a Virtual Water Cooler
People are social beings, and casual conversation helps forge bonds and can lead to inspiration and creativity. When colleagues socialize, they tend to be happier, too. Designate an area for online chatting, where colleagues can share anything that falls outside of work. Travel photos, funny (appropriate) memes, or pictures of babies and pets are fair game.
Some companies have let these conversations happen organically, while others have created groups or clubs to help people identify colleagues with similar hobbies and personal interests like cooking or cycling. For example, in an HR Exchange webinar, Globalization Partners described how it had employees from around the world share recipes from their home country. Then, administrators used the responses to create a cookbook. People tried each other’s recipes and discussed how the dishes turned out.
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Host In-Person Meetings
Now that COVID-19 infection rates are dropping significantly, many companies are planning for a return to the office. Not everyone will return, and many will have hybrid work schedules, so that the office is never full to capacity. But even when workers are remote, they may be open to coming into the office for a meeting from time to time. It allows for face-to-face encounters, which help people better relate to one another. These in-office meetings won’t be feasible for everyone, but they can help foster relationships and give people positive feelings about their employer.
Practice Active Listening
The key to communication is listening to what the other person is saying and understanding and digesting it. Active listening requires attentive body language, asking open-ended questions, and reflecting back, according to Business Insider.
“Active listening has many benefits, one being that it makes the speaker feel validated and understood, which can lead to a more meaningful connection than if you just half-listen and wait for your turn to speak,” according to the article.
Leaders can practice active listening, teach it to others, and use it both for relationship building and to understand individual employee needs, so they can respond accordingly.
In a hybrid workplace, trust is everything. SpencerStuart says senior executives can play a major role in the perception employees have of a company culture. As a result, SpencerStuart suggests doing the following:
- Provide opportunities to build relationships
- Offer networking opportunities for team members to share their capabilities
- Highlight successes
- Model transparency
- Admit when you don’t know something
CHROs and other HR leaders have the power and responsibility to foster relationships within an organization. They can model appropriate behavior, develop the infrastructure necessary for communication in a hybrid workplace, build trust, and promote at least a little bit of fun. Their efforts may be rewarded with improved employee engagement and experience, which can lead to better recruitment and retention.
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