'There are some very significant cultural challenges with managing this new hybrid way of working'
As many workplaces move to some form of a hybrid workplace, keeping employees connected becomes even more challenging.
But employers take note: Those that employ “best-in-class” tools are seeing nine out of 10 workers reporting themselves as productive, while that number falls to four in 10 at companies with “unsatisfactory” collaboration products, according to a survey by Kahoot!
These gaps can be mitigated by HR people talking to workers, says James Micklethwait, vice-president at the workplace learning company in Oslo.
“It’s probably because there wasn’t quite enough direct dialogue going on between HR, who often purchase these tools and collaboration technologies and are involved in that purchasing process, and the end users of that technology.”
For HR professionals, it’s an exciting time, he says.
“There’s a real opportunity for organizations to reboot their culture and help employees work in exactly the way they want to, but achieve all of those things… [to] feel included, feel connected to their team members and also enjoy [being] at work as well.”
While 57 per cent of workers rate the collaboration and tools as excellent or above average, 79 per cent of HR leaders feel the same, found the survey of 1,626 full-time employees and HR leaders in the U.S. in July.
“There’s always going to be something of a discrepancy between the HR teams: they’re doing their best and they’re trying to do the right thing but what those stats highlight with that difference of opinion is the importance of constantly listening to your employees and getting their feedback because even with the right intentions from HR teams… there can sometimes be a perception gap between HR and employees,” says Micklethwait.
With the vast majority of workers keen to work remotely part of the time (77 per cent), most HR leaders (84 per cent) will be using technology to help facilitate communication and collaboration efforts. But that will pose new challenges for HR departments, he says.
“There are some very significant cultural challenges with managing this new hybrid way of working and that is essentially the problem statement: people want to work remotely more than ever but what our report shows is that, actually, there are some historical biases that exist relating to office workers and, essentially, there’s a very interesting tradeoff that workers are going to have to balance.”
Entertainment in the workplace was also seen as important to a lot of workers according to the survey as 72 per cent believed it should be mandated every day, says Micklethwait.
“These tools not only deliver productivity benefits – like many collaboration tools today, they can communicate [and] share knowledge in a very efficient way --- this new breed of technology also delivers real emotional benefits that help people connect with their colleagues. It helps them feel included in the interactions that are hybrid, where some people are in the office and some people are working remotely, and also helps those colleagues who are working remotely have that sense of fun that they say it’s important to them in during the working day as well.”
That is an important way to increase results from successful engagement, according to Micklethwait.
“The whole definition of employee engagement is employees who feel really connected to the mission, the purpose of the organization and are willing to put in the extra effort and to go further than that – you need that emotional investment in your workplace. High-performing teams, in short, have a deeper connection at a human level and emotional level with each other than teams who simply just view their colleagues as another person who is doing a role.”
Meanwhile, work-life balance is becoming even more important for employees, found another survey, and employers need to provide more support to make hybrid work a success.