Hybrid work: How to maintain team engagement

In today’s difficult hiring environment, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge your top performers. These simple strategies can help your teams thrive
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Despite recent layoffs in Silicon Valley, most of the country is grappling with an ongoing labor shortage that threatens bottom lines. As this recent survey of popular online employment sites shows, a shrinking candidate pool will make it harder for employers to attract and keep top talent in the years ahead.

The war for talent has been raging for years and is not about to cool down anytime soon. As 2023 dawns, many companies will focus on filling empty seats. But just as important is keeping your current talent happy so they don’t jump ship for another opportunity.

Employees leave for many reasons, some of which their employers cannot control. But issues like a lack of appreciation and limited opportunities for advancement can be remedied, often without adding to the budget or overwhelming an already stretched HR team.

[ Also read 10 articles IT hiring managers must read before 2022 ends. ]

The workplace may be more complex today as the hybrid model has become commonplace. But it’s never been easier for companies to show their employees that they matter and have a path to career development.

Peer-to-peer appreciation

Showing appreciation to standout workers doesn’t require a salary increase or a company-wide celebration. Simple offerings such as a day off, a gift card, a LinkedIn recommendation, a late start time, or a long lunch can also go a long way toward expressing gratitude.

Many company leaders also find it effective to give employees a platform – such as a company Slack channel or some other venue – to offer kudos to their colleagues. While it’s always a good practice for leaders to formally acknowledge top performers, simple tools like this can add a whole new – and more personal – dimension.

Mentorship in the hybrid workplace

Mentorship was more accessible when a younger worker shadowed a veteran employee by looking over their shoulder during the workday. However, work teams today span different states, countries, and even continents.

That doesn’t mean mentorship has to suffer. In fact, with geographic boundaries removed, mentorship can be more effective than ever. It can strengthen retention rates, create valuable professional relationships, and help employees grow and achieve their goals.

Every mentorship program should be designed to fit the organization's unique needs. But in general, effective programs should strive to:

  • Create one-on-one relationships
  • Consider common goals and interests – as well as time zones – when matching mentors and mentees
  • Encourage regular check-ins between mentors and mentees
  • Provide discussion questions as a framework so the mentor and mentee can get well acquainted and have productive conversations about their goals
  • Encourage the use of communications tools like Slack, Trello, Zoom, or Teams, as well as in-person meetings whenever possible
  • Have mentors and mentees regularly share their goals and progress with the broader team, often letting the mentee take the lead

Employees who want a clear path to advancement are more likely to leave for better opportunities. Mentorship is a great way to show employees that path.

Retaining your top talent

Employee turnover is expensive – some cost estimates put the cost of recruiting and training new employees at about six to nine months’ salary. No company wants that burden, especially during a time of economic uncertainty.

At the same time, no company wants to lose its best talent. Companies across industries have been exploring ways to increase flexibility, improve work-life balance, and other incentives to retain employees.

But simple gestures and policies can also help your organization keep your performers. Increasing workplace appreciation practices and fine-tuning mentorship programs are two such approaches.

[ Want more advice on leading hybrid work? Read What is a hybrid work model? and Hybrid work model: 5 advantages. ]

Aaron Rubens is the co-founder and CEO of Kudoboard Inc., a platform primarily used for workplace appreciation on special occasions, company events, and everything in between. Rubens, a Tulane graduate with an MBA from Harvard Business School, brings a rich background in education and technology.