The hybrid work landscape has introduced many benefits, including flex time and online tools that keep us connected. But through increased levels of online work, burnout and fatigue are still showing up for employees.
According to over 2,500 U.S. employees surveyed for the fourth edition of Beamery’s quarterly Talent Index, many are feeling the burden of the remote office as lines between work and personal lives blur. To improve retention and build staff morale, business leaders need to introduce new standards and best practices for the digital workplace.
Here are three ways leaders can support employees who are feeling challenged by the changes brought about by hybrid work:
1. Identify, nurture and develop in-house talent
As people continue to reconsider their roles and seek out new opportunities, it’s clear that the Great Resignation isn’t subsiding anytime soon. Organizations, therefore, need to adapt and fill skill gaps by focusing on existing employee potential, instead of simply crafting job descriptions of immediate openings. A 2021 Gartner survey found that 47% of employers do not know what skill gaps their current employees have. With fierce competition for available talent, leaders must also pivot to offer improved training and development opportunities if they are to motivate and retain their staff as they build their workforce of the future.
And employees are showing signs that they are eager to take on new challenges and learn new skills. Nearly half (46%) of men and one-third (33%) of women interviewed for the Talent Index are already taking on gig jobs and internal projects within the company for which they are already employed. An additional 38% say they are considering requesting an internal gig of their own.
“Now is the time for leaders to create and share ambitious plans focused on long-term talent development,” says Abakar Saidov, CEO and Co-Founder of Beamery. He shared with me the importance of looking at talent beyond the role, and at the various skills and potential a person has. Leaders should also engage with their employees to hear what they really want from their careers, and investigate opportunities within the company for them to pursue.
2. Set boundaries to counteract the “always-on” mindset
Many remote workers feel as though they are “always-on” while working from home. While platforms such as Slack and Teams keep us hyperconnected, it’s also now becoming increasingly difficult for employees to disconnect at the end of the workday. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the people interviewed for the Talent Index said they receive work-related messages on their phones outside normal working hours. An additional 32% reported feeling pressured to be online and available; with junior employees, in particular, feeling most overloaded during their downtime.
“Employees look to business leaders to see how they set the balance in the digital workplace,” says Saidov. “Therefore they need to set a precedent for how and when work communication ceases at the end of the working day and, more importantly, to manage expectations and reassure staff that responses out of hours aren’t mandatory.”
3. Foster social bonds between office-based and remote colleagues
Connection between coworkers is critical to building a productive and healthy workplace. This is particularly true for younger employees: the majority (80%) of 25-34-year-olds surveyed said that friendships with coworkers are the most important thing to them at work. But in the hybrid world of work, some employees can feel especially removed from their peers.
At all levels and across all locations, leaders should prioritize fostering connections between colleagues that maintain a strong work culture, says Saidov. Host online lunches, group activities and 1:1 conversations between employees to get to know them better and encourage bonding. Employees who feel connected to their peers tend to enjoy healthier working relationships, greater collaboration and improved efficiency.
The ways in which companies approach talent have changed dramatically in the past few years. With this change comes the opportunity to step back and think about how best to prioritize talent because it’s the organizations that pivot that will become “talent-first”.