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5 Tactics To Keep Them Engaged In Hybrid Workplaces



Weekly Emails, Team Tag Ups, And Instant Messaging

As organizations continue to navigate the hybrid workplace challenges, learning and development (L&D) teams are also struggling to keep their teams engaged in a hybrid setting. According to the 2021 annual survey conducted by Flexjobs, 97% of respondents were seeking a form of remote work (either full-time remote or hybrid). According to Deloitte, 86% of US tech company leaders are grappling with reengineering their organizations into hybrid workplaces. This article tackles this challenge and offers five proven tactics to increase engagement and collaboration in your team including sending a weekly motivational email with key updates, meeting weekly with the team leads to discuss program details, communicating on instant messaging, holding office hours for the broader project stakeholders, and also holding a non-work related happy hour session. Let’s review each tactic and discuss how you can adopt and adapt it to your context. You can consider a combination of some of all of these tactics as well as generate new ideas and approaches based on your organizational culture and needs.

5 Ways To Improve L&D Team Engagement

Weekly Motivational Email

A weekly motivational email keeps the team focused, informed, and inspired. It may sound trite or superficial but it actually works. As Robert Glazer shares, once you start writing the weekly motivational emails, the positive impact can be extraordinary. I like to keep the format the same each week, with four sections: quote of the week, key updates, kudos, and project administrative details. The quote of the week is fun to generate every week. I seek quotes from a diverse group of leaders around the world to convey that week’s message. The next section includes new content every week, whereas the third section always offers the opportunity to seek the victories for that week no matter how small. The project administrative details don’t change that much and I like to include them with key links related to the project including the link to weekly team lead meetings, the link to the instant messaging, the office hours, etc.

Weekly Meeting With Team Leads

A weekly meeting with team leads ensures that they feel supported throughout the project. I like to ask two questions in these weekly updates: “how is it going?” and “how can I help?” The first question allows you to actively listen about the weekly wins and the challenges the team leads faced. Here is it vital to also listen to what is not said, and probe with open-ended questions to uncover possible challenges the team leads may not be comfortable sharing. The second question underscores your role as the supporter who removes obstacles and serves as a reminder of your continuous support to the team members. The recommended duration for these is 30 minutes or 45 minutes depending on how many team leads are on the project.

Instant Messaging Communication

Instant messaging on the in-house platform allows the team to connect and problem-solve on the spot. I like the immediacy and breadth of instant messaging and use it when I need to find out information fast and to provide guidance and support to team members troubleshooting an issue. It’s also a great way to offer support, inspiration, and guidance in between all the other tactics. Team members actively use the platform during the day and during the week to reach out to each other, seek help, offer opportunities for growth and even share a quick laugh during busy and grueling workdays.

Office Hours

Pick a day and time slot that works for most project team members and send a calendar invite for the year. Borrowed from a university setting where professors hold office hours so that students can drop in and ask questions, office hours are widely used by organizations as opportunities for strengthening connection and collaboration. It is a good idea to consider holding optional office hours bi-weekly or monthly so that you build and maintain momentum.

Office hours can be quite useful as a platform for communication and engagement for the team because they provide an opportunity for an open mic when team members can share ideas and learning, discuss challenges, and exchange perspectives and troubleshooting tactics. You can set the duration to 30 minutes or 60 minutes and within that time frame, set up a broad agenda. For example, it appears that office hours are more valuable when they include a curated portion in the first few minutes. This allows for the team members to receive value first. You can share kudos, updates, appreciations, or introduce new initiatives. After the curated portion, you can open the platform and invite the participants to share their thoughts, ideas, questions, and concerns. You can record the office hours and share the link in the weekly motivational email to create continuity of content and project progress and also ensure that the team members who could not attend the office hours can still access the session.

Happy Hour

It is important to also carve out time to connect beyond work. You can set up an optional online happy hour type session where participants can sip their own beverage of choice (you can decide as a team on the type of beverage appropriate) and chat about non-work topics: pets, upcoming travel, hobbies, favorite games, recipes, new skills, etc. These sessions can be quite useful and can engender trust, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging. You can consider engaging the team to find out what they would like to do and invite them to cc-organize team games like trivia, bingo, or charades among others. It is important to set some guardrails here to ensure these stay within company policy and also do not become a platform to spread gossip which can be detrimental to team morale.

Conclusion

As we navigate a hybrid workplace, building trust and cultivating engagement are vital for our team performance and productivity momentum. In this article, we discussed four proven practices to engage your team on a weekly basis including a weekly motivational email, instant messaging, weekly tag-up with team leads, office hours, and non-work-related happy hours. These tactics are simple and when practiced consistently they produce compounding benefits in building trust and engagement in teams.

 



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Andy Neal

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