Who Is Being Left Behind In The Hybrid Workplace?
It’s clear the hybrid workplace is here to stay, but it’s also becoming apparent it has brought far more challenges than anyone anticipated.
Workplace leaders are struggling to restructure schedules, redefine the role of the office, and reinvent the employee experience for hybrid working.
At the same time, after two years of working remotely, some employees are feeling disconnected from their teams and from the company’s mission. They’re also missing valuable opportunities for connection, collaboration, and mentorship.
Here are three ways to re-establish meaningful relationships among your team and make sure no employee feels left behind lost in the hybrid workplace.
Develop a cross-generational mentorship structure to boost employee engagement
Despite being arguably the most technologically savvy generations, research shows Millennial and Gen. Z employees expressed lower satisfaction with working from home than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
One survey shared in a Time magazine article found only 30% of Gen Z employees wanted to continue working remotely full-time, and 34% said they were more productive and engaged in the office.
Part of this disconnect comes from the lack of mentoring and face-to-face meetings younger generations need for personal and professional growth.
When you look at characteristics of each generation, Baby Boomers often gain personal satisfaction from what they produce in their work and push to retire on a specific timeline. Gen Xers tend to thrive on direct communication with leadership teams and are driven by a need to balance work and family, while Millennials tend to have a more entrepreneurial mindset and are driven by emotional fulfillment in addition to the economic and professional fulfillment of the workplace.
Tapping into the strengths and motivations of different generations in the workplace can help you develop a hybrid workplace that is more personalized to each individuals’ needs. Developing an organized mentorship system helps employees learn best practices for success and build professional relationships necessary for advancement.
It also gives your company a place to nurture a culture that supports diversity and inclusion. If Baby Boomers and Gen Xers value direct interaction and feedback, and Millennials want more frequent interaction that focuses on both emotional and professional development and balance, those generational characteristics are good starting points to begin developing a mentorship structure where one generation is adapting more readily to remote or hybrid work while the other needs more interpersonal interaction.
Benefits of cross-generational mentoring – where each generation is learning from the other – affect the company as well as the individuals participating in the mentorship relationship. It allows for older employees who are more seasoned to transfer their knowledge and younger employees to take on more responsibilities. With the Baby Boomer workforce retiring at a rate of 2.2 million on average each year, there is a wealth of wisdom that is leaving with them.
Another benefit of cross-generational mentoring, especially in hybrid workplace management, is better employee retention and engagement rates. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report indicates only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged at work, compared with 70% in the world’s best organizations.
Employee engagements refers to employees who are invested in their company’s values, vision, and goals, and who take pride in the work they produce.
Gallup’s research showed 48% of employees were actively searching for new opportunities. Employees that are engaged in their work produce higher quality content and are more likely to stay at your company longer than their disengaged, coasting through counterparts. Developing one-on-one relationships through mentoring that make employees feel seen, heard, and valued can help enhance employee engagement and retention.
Build genuine relationships by focusing on holistic mentorship
The Harvard Business Review took a deep dive into the concept of hybrid workplace mentorship last year when it highlighted this focus on mentorship and sponsorship at American Needs You (ANY), a New York City-based non-profit that aids first-generation college graduates in becoming “work ready.” The organization fights for economic mobility and inclusion through one-on-one mentoring programs.
With the interruption of remote and hybrid work, the organization’s leadership had to become creative with how they supported its values with the limitations of the pandemic. America Needs You CEO Marianna Tu described mentorship and sponsorships as critical to employee retention and satisfaction, especially for minorities such as people of color and women.
In addition to helping qualified employees who may traditionally fall through the recruiting gaps due to lack of contacts or their educational/socio-economic backgrounds, mentorship and development help businesses avoid costly hiring mistakes and poor employee support by creating a relationship that leads to recruiting an employee as a full package, not just as a list of qualifications on a resume.
Tu said ANY revamped its mentoring program to fit a hybrid or remote work structure by focusing on building rapport — relationships based on trust and respect, a shared understanding of one another’s values and perspectives, and strong communication. That starts by embracing the reality that the lines between employees’ professional and personal lives have become more blurred. A holistic approach encourages discussing all aspects of life, both personal and professional. This can look like not having either party apologize for or feel badly about interruptions to meetings by children or pets, or asking employees how they’re really doing and being ready to listen.
“This sort of mentoring acknowledges an important truth: work/life balance is a myth; it’s all just life, and work is one part of our lives,” Tu said.
Remain focused on individual connections
During the peak of remote work, when so many employees found themselves locked down and linked to other people outside their household by a computer screen, team leaders and companies scrambled to create some semblance of connection and social interaction. Whether by hosting virtual happy hours, online networking events, or other social events connected via cyberspace, we all did our best to maintain face time and the feeling of being a team but saw participation and enthusiasm dwindle over time.
With employees spending two to five hours per day on meetings, “Zoom fatigue” is real.
Rather than creating a large group setting full of distractions, overlapping noise, and a lack of opportunity to create deeper connections, try focusing on one-on-one virtual work-dates. Taking the time to nurture a deeper interaction that is focused and more meaningful can lead to more authentic connection and deeper feelings of value.
How iOFFICE + SpaceIQ can help
One way to combat Zoom fatigue and foster more meaningful connections in the hybrid workplace is to encourage different forms of communication. Each generation has its own preferences when it comes to communicating and using workplace technology.
Some may prefer more frequent meetings in person, while others would rather have occasional meetings supplemented by frequent feedback through email or employee apps.
Having technology that makes it easy to find a place to meet in person and stay connected outside the office, such as the iOFFICE Hummingbird workplace app or Serraview Engage, facilitates this type of communication. Employees can easily find people and places, reserve rooms or desks, request service, and receive mail, visitors, or important announcements, such as reminders of company events.
This gives every generation and every individual the resources they need to be productive and have meaningful interactions in the hybrid workplace.
To learn more, request a demo today.