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Fostering employee growth in a hybrid workplace

Fostering employee growth in a hybrid workplace

purple background with text: hybrid hacks #4: growth & feedback

I wasn’t feeling valued. I didn’t get enough feedback. There weren’t enough opportunities to grow professionally. 

Statements like these will sound familiar to almost everyone who’s conducted exit interviews. And it’s simple enough to deduce that if employees didn’t feel that way, they may not have left the company at all. 

We all know how painful and costly employee turnover is. It takes a lot of time and resources to hire and onboard employees. Not to mention the work that goes into helping them be at their most productive. 

Facilitating feedback and professional growth is vital to employee retention – whether your workplace is in-person, remote, or hybrid. 

According to one study, workers prefer a hybrid model 83% of the time – so this is a key aspect of optimizing the employee experience (EX). In this blog series, we’re diving into the EX best practices for hybrid workplaces in each stage of the employee lifecycle: 1) hiring, 2) onboarding, 3) productivity, and 4) growth & feedback.

This final piece in our series focuses on some challenges and best practices for growth and feedback in hybrid environments. Let’s dive in.

Challenges for employee growth in hybrid workplaces

There are a variety of challenges faced by companies with hybrid workplaces. Here are a few of them:

  • Out of sight, out of mind – Remote staff often get overlooked for promotions (and may receive less recognition) as recent studies show.
  • Measuring performance – It may feel harder to measure employee performance, as the amount of time spent in the office no longer works as a metric. (To be fair, it was never a viable one anyway.)
  • Trust issues – Managers think their team members are just slacking off when they’re not in an office.
  • Consistency – Overall, it’s hard to apply consistent standards across onsite and remote employees, both in terms of 1) frequency of feedback and recognition and 2)  fair assessment of performance.

Best practices for employee growth in hybrid workplaces

Just because these challenges exist doesn’t mean a hybrid model can’t work for your organization. To tackle these growth & feedback challenges (and any others that may come up), try out some of these best practices:

1) Gather 360° feedback from mixed groups

It’s common for office (or remote) “cliques” to form, creating a group where those employees only push each other. In this way, employees get away with being good colleagues to some but not to others.

To mitigate this and other feedback challenges, peer feedback should generally come from diverse groups. In hybrid workplaces, it’s important to involve both onsite and remote employees.

Aim to learn how your employees interact with onsite and remote staff – and how they’re perceived by them. There may be situations where, for example, a team member is popular in-office, but has a tendency to exclude remote colleagues. Gathering 360° feedback helps you spot this early.

2) Launch a digital peer recognition program

By nature of their location, remote employees are excluded from any recognition that’s casually happening in the office (e.g., pat on the back, quick shoutout, etc.). This may make them feel like their work isn’t recognized.

Choose one way of sharing public recognition that is inclusive of everyone.  Spontaneous in-office recognition can be done in addition, not instead. 

For example, many performance management tools have a built-in public praise or recognition feature. (For example: Lattice, Small Improvements, and Culture Amp.) There are also lightweight tools and Slack apps your team can use just for public praise.

3) Create personal development plans with employees

Remote employees tend to get overlooked when it comes to promotions, simply because of their lack of face-to-face time.

Creating personal development plans with each employee makes their career goals explicit (hello, accountability!) and lays out a path to achieve them. Be sure to include milestones, check-ins, and commitments from both sides (i.e. what’s expected from the employee and how the manager and company can support them).

If goals and expectations are clear, it’s harder to trick the system or (unconsciously) favor certain employees.

4) Make 1:1s a key responsibility for every manager

When onsite team members get more facetime with their onsite manager, they receive more trust and are in a better position to be put on the best projects, receive higher bonuses, be top of mind for promotions, and more.

Mandatory 1:1s facilitate a healthy relationship between the manager and all direct reports, regardless of their location. With remote team members, it’s ideal to mandate video instead of voice calls or async meetings.

The organization can help guide managers with training and question banks for their 1:1s, including questions for relationship building.

5) Hybrid manager training

It’s crucial for all managers of hybrid teams – regardless of their own workplace setup – to undergo the proper training. It’s especially important to make managers aware of proximity bias and how to avoid it.

Emphasize that managers are role models that set the tone for what’s expected of all employees, and that they are an integral part of making hybrid workplaces productive and equitable for all.

Mastering employee growth & feedback in hybrid environments

Facilitating employee growth and feedback in a hybrid or remote environment presents unique challenges, but these best practices can help teams to create the best employee experience possible. Be sure to catch up on the rest of our series on EX best practices for hybrid workplaces in each stage of the employee lifecycle: hiring, onboarding, and productivity.

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