Employee engagement plays a vital role for all organisations and is actively built through consistent interaction between employees and management, through both virtual and in-office mediums. Thanks to the pandemic, however, we have now been forced to adopt a remote working and hybrid working model, which has disrupted the general ‘office vibe’ and created some separation between colleagues and team members. And while innovations in technologies like cloud, zoom, and other virtual engagement platforms have already ensured that the practical and operational aspects of hybrid working are smooth and seamless, employee engagement and overall ‘team building’ have suffered considerably, leading to lower employee trust and lack of integrated team efforts.
Earlier when an employee came into the office, he used to sit with his team members for 8-10 hours and interact directly with his professional environment that included his peers, bosses, HR personnel and maybe even customers, resulting in a stronger bond with workmates, that instil a sense of community and belonging. Now, everyone is sitting in different corners of the country and maybe working different hours. This has led to a shift in work patterns, from working together as a team to working in silos, giving rise to a feeling of being isolated or left out. Such work conditions result in disengaged and sometimes insecure employees who may no longer feel aligned with the overall corporate policies and thus, may not be motivated enough to contribute towards the success of the company – a development that is harmful for organisations, especially during such tough economic conditions.
Hence, it is vital for a more focused, creative and effective internal communications strategy to be designed and implemented, to help ensure there is a synergy and collaborative work environment, in spite of a hybrid operational model.
Here are the 4 simple methods of internal communication that can be leveraged in a time of hybrid working model:
- Empathy driven communication:
Even as the world comes to terms with the after effects of a devastating pandemic, most of us are still healing from loss or hardships. Under such circumstances, it becomes important that organisations acknowledge and empathise with these situations. . The tone and the frequency of corporate engagement thus needs to reflect this attitude HR needs to reach out to people not only for fun things, productivity and attendance checks but also check it with employees for their mental and physical wellbeing and offer support or solutions to deal with personal woes, thus sending out a strong message that the organisation cares and will continue to support them, in these tough times.
- Positive push towards productivity:
Managing work output and efficiency in the hybrid work model is a challenge in itself, as several organisations and employees struggle to be able to remain productive and drive results. Under the circumstances, while accurate supervision and monitoring is vital, effective communication about productive hours needs to be focussed and positive, so as to motivate and inspire employees instead of giving into strict disciplinarian policies. This can help managers and organisations to achieve business goals while also building deeper connection with employees. Efforts or initiatives like Flexi time, relaxation in logging on and logging off time etc., can be effectively communicated but also on the same must have to complete the working hours. This all should be communicated in a very positive manner.
- Spokesperson Engagement
This is a vital aspect of employee engagement in the hybrid work model. Often immediate managers and occasional HR communicate with employees but they continue to remain disconnected about the companies overall performance and/ or start losing trust in the future of the company. Office townhall meets and CEO/ Spokesperson engagement would typically help calm these insecurities. In the hybrid work scenario, provision for spokesperson engagement needs to be made, not only from a friendly engagement point of view but also from a Q&A point of view, so employees can be assured and have greater clarity about their role in the overall growth of the company.
- Building trust through Transparency and consistency:
In these times of uncertainty, it is important to be well informed. In terms of internal communication, building trust among employees through transparent and consistent engagement, is vital. When communication is productive and transparent, employees will feel more empowered and see administration as reliable and transparent. Through transparency and regular updates, productivity improves because employees will feel more committed and engaged in the work they do and the company they work for.
In conclusion, the coming days, although not as rough, will continue to remain challenging as the world comes to terms with the disruption caused by the global pandemic. Under such circumstances, businesses are already struggling to survive and looking for new avenues to grow. Human resource is one of the most vital strength that every organisation must cultivate if they are looking to tide over the challenging times ahead and thus, investing in a strategic and well executed internal communication strategy is as important, if not more, than a robust marketing strategy.
The article is authored by – Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder, Scenic Communications Pvt Ltd.