Employee Engagement ~ 8 min

Employee Engagement: How to Manage a Hybrid Team?

HR Team, People Experts, Sociabble
HR Team People Experts

Managers now have new digital tools at their disposal to communicate and increase employee engagement. But what is the best use of these novel solutions in the hybrid workplace? Let’s discover some effective examples of how to lead hybrid teams in the age of remote work.

Work scenarios have changed in recent years–it’s a fact. Flex-offices, remote employees, the hybrid work environment, they’ve all become commonplace, however many managers still struggle to adapt. But solutions exist, and new communication tools are available to them; they need to make good use of them in order to design effective communication streams with their teams. In this article, we’ll explore some examples of successful managerial communication techniques that build employee engagement for hybrid teams.

Massive resignations due to poor management

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review reveals that more and more field workers in the US are leaving their jobs. In fact, there are an estimated 9 million unfilled jobs to date. Dissatisfaction with wages and better offers are not the only reasons why field workers are quitting in droves. Another reason is dissatisfaction with their managers.

Boston Consulting Group researchers found in a survey of hourly U.S. workers in the retail, distribution, travel, and food service industries, that while compensation and situational conditions were the biggest reasons for turnover, next on the list was a bad relationship with their boss. (Harvard Business Review, March 2022).

New skills required to manage a hybrid team

Managers have a considerable impact on communications, and consequently, on company results. This is often due to the ability of managers to interact with their teams. The way they interact and exchange with their employees is crucial, especially in the new hybrid working environment.  

A Gallup study (1) confirms that the role of a manager goes far beyond supervision: Gallup found that 70% of a team’s commitment is influenced by the managers.

Deprived of traditional communication channels such as face-to-face team meetings or simply the informal coffee break, managers have had to acquire new managerial skills. For example, active listening, the ability to encourage dialogue from a distance, empathy and caring. Not to mention the digital skills needed to use the new communication tools.

More than ever, managers are de facto the first link in a company’s communication chain. Thanks to their proximity to their teams and their knowledge of their environment, they can provide context to the information transmitted by top management to their employees. Aware of this added value, companies are equipping themselves with digital tools to facilitate managerial communication and team meetings.

Examples of effective digital managerial communication

Thanks to the digitalisation of communication tools, some companies have encouraged the implementation of new management communication practices. The aim of these new communication methods is to strengthen the commitment of remote workers in the field to their company.

Here are some effective examples, the implementation of which is facilitated by the Sociabble platform:

Daily briefing for store managers

A major player in the field of clothing distribution has decided to equip store managers with the digital platform Sociabble, which allows them to distribute the daily briefing to the teams.

In concrete terms, after the briefing-oriented team meetings held before the shop opens, the managers share all the information in the application. Available on the smartphones of department managers and sales staff, it gives access to all the important messages such as the day’s promotions, stock levels, team schedules and rotations, turnover updates, etc.

It is an asynchronous communication solution perfect to manage a hybrid team: it allows employees who take their shift at different times to have the same information as those who attended the morning briefing.

Also, employees can interact with their manager via the Sociabble application, as well as with their colleagues: this improves the accessibility of the information, but also of the manager as such, who is easily reachable via the application outside of scheduled team meetings.

Sociabble Enterprise Video (SEV) is a tool that allows managers to connect live with both office staff and remote employees via video messaging and virtual meetings, while also offering AI-powered summaries of conversations and instant translation capabilities. This makes it easy to keep the workforce in the loop and engaged, no matter where they are located–even for remote workers in the field.

Communication channel dedicated to managers

When the question “how to manage a hybrid team” comes up, several companies have decided to encourage peer-to-peer communication between managers by providing them with specific channels.

For example, one of the world’s leading optical lens manufacturers has deployed a channel dedicated to managers within its internal communication platform, Sociabble. This channel aims to encourage exchanges between peers, by sharing best practice in terms of managing remote workers in the field.

It is also where managers find deadlines and HR reference documents (e.g., end-of-year interviews), as well as all the information that concerns them directly (e.g., logistics for the next managers’ meeting). Note that this is a communication channel where informal exchanges are encouraged, outside of the normal collaboration tools. 

Themed channels and targeted communication is one of the most powerful features of the Sociabble platform. “Must-Read” content capabilities also ensure that employees are receiving and understanding all of the information they need, even if they receive it outside of core business hours, or as part of a remote team.

Managers and employee engagement

Evolving documents according to managers’ feedback

One of the challenges of internal communication is to play an advisory role with managers and to prepare communication materials for them. To be effective, the materials must include clear and structured messages, be adapted to hybrid work, and be relevant to the realities on the ground.

One of the leaders in the automotive sector has systematized this with documents distributed at regular intervals by newsletter, and that are always available to managers via Sharepoint, accessible directly from Sociabble. In fact, Sociabble’s newsletter engine comes with templates and dynamic content options, making it simple and fast to send out regular and personalized newsletters.

These documents not only update managers on group news, but also contextualize messages in relation to events in the field (for example, why such a message is important for a particular production site, what the repercussions might be for employees, etc.).

These documents are designed entirely with the needs of managers in the field in mind: surveys and one-to-one interviews are conducted regularly via Sociabble, to constantly adapt them.

Managers and employee engagement

Hybrid team: Employee pulse with manager involvement for entire team

More and more companies have realized the strategic importance of employee engagement in meeting business objectives and managing hybrid teams. Employees have high expectations when it comes to having their opinions considered. Sociabble offers a wide range of tools to facilitate communication between teams and their managers.

For example, it is possible to set up regular employee surveys for the entire team, to monitor indicators of employee confidence in top management decisions. Specific surveys can be deployed in a matter of minutes, from a very small team to thousands of employees, with the option available to keep answers anonymous for each team member, to encourage employees to respond honestly. Managers are encouraged to do this as often as possible with employees in the field: thanks to their proximity to their teams, managers can contextualize feedback from their teams and clarify it with top management.

Managers and employee engagement

Digital tools in an environment that promotes dialogue while managing hybrid teams

In conclusion, in order to manage a hybrid team, managers are one of the priority communication channels for employee engagement.

For this to happen, companies need to invest in their professional well-being: managers need to feel equipped with the right tools and free to express themselves with team management and their teams in a climate of constructive dialogue and team building.

In a hybrid environment, the easier the communication and the more fluid the exchange of information, the higher the level of employee engagement, including managers. After all, managers are also employees—let’s not forget that. (1) https://www.gallup.com/home.aspx

Discover how Sociabble can help your company manage hybrid teams

Sociabble is the platform designed to generate engagement and empower managerial communication in hybrid work scenarios. Our experts will answer your questions and guide you through a platform demo. We’ve already partnered with global industry leaders like Pierre Fabre, Primark, and Coca-Cola CCEP, and we’d love to discuss ways we can help your company get the most out of its communications. 

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