If the last two years have taught business leaders anything, it is that a flexible, hybrid workplace demands a collaborative environment across the entire organization. With some employees working remotely and relying on technology like Zoom, Skype, and Slack to communicate — or coming in to work just a few days a week — team members need to feel acknowledged and appreciated. Collaboration fosters innovation, creativity, and encourages workers to unite to meet common goals, even when they’re not all in the same location. With a hybrid workforce, organizations must focus on keeping employees happy.
A recent survey of 32,000 conducted by the ADP Research Institute found that the pandemic triggered a re-evaluation of what job security means to workers. Many are prioritizing their personal well-being outside work, appraising their company’s ethics and values and are ready to leave if they do not align with theirs. While pay is still a top priority for employees, at least half would trade a pay cut for a better work-life balance.
The research firm Gartner surveyed more than 3,500 employees around the world in October 2021, and 65 percent said the pandemic had made them rethink the role that work should have in their lives. Fifty-six percent said COVID has made them want to contribute more to society. This soul-searching translates into whether workers feel valued or simply creating outcomes and value to benefit others. People want purpose in their lives, including at work. To retain staff, leaders will need to work to elicit sustainable performance without comprising employees’ long-term health.
How to best foster collaboration in a diverse, hybrid workplace?
A blog posted by Vantage Circle, an employee engagement and employee benefits platform, offered these tips:
- Respect perspective. Making sure that all workers’ views are valued helps maintain a balance where everyone is equal, increases connection, and collaboration among employees.
- Encourage innovation. Brainstorming with colleagues in a nonjudgmental environment, whether that be online or in-person, results in innovative thinking and better collaboration with workplace peers.
- Set clear goals. In order for employees to collaborate, they need to work toward defined goals. This way, they can come together as a team and share ideas to meet goals while building a stronger relationship.
- Reward collaboration. Every collaborative effort should be recognized and rewarded, strengthening the organization’s purpose. Events to congratulate workers for their hard work will inspire others to meet goals and raise productivity. Public recognition helps retain key employees and reduces turnover rates.
- Reduce conflicts. Defusing conflicts in the workplace — assuring that employees have a mutual understanding of company goals and a desire to help each other — will create a psychologically safe environment.
- Help staff connect with one another. A platform, or an intranet if you will, allows workers to appreciate their peers, foster better communication, and keeps everyone up to date about achievements.
- Build trust. This is a critical component of collaboration in the workplace. You can build trust by encouraging employees to be honest with each other to help build accountability. Active listening when workers raise concerns helps them feel valued and shows that the organization takes their issues seriously.
Performance rises when employees have a sense of connection and the knowledge that they are part of a great team. Ongoing conversations between managers and employees let workers understand their leader’s expectations, objectives and helps them collaborate to better understand one another.
Successful managers consistently check in with their staff and help them build social connections within the organization. Their conversations with employees have substance and purpose, and the communication flows both ways so work teams feel like their opinions count and that they can discuss ideas, issues, and workplace concerns freely.
The Allure Group, which manages six nursing homes in New York City, relies on a mix of technology and employee recognition to ease the burden on overwhelmed or burnt-out healthcare providers. The company’s Vis a Vis remote monitoring solution provides virtual house calls to patients transitioning between care levels, and Allures PadsinMotion bed-side tablets help keep residents in touch with loved ones, allowing clinicians to devote more time to care and treatment.
Nursing homes rely on their healthcare providers to work collaboratively as a diverse team comprised of employees with different skill sets and levels of experience. The Allure Group recently celebrated Nurses’ Week and publicly recognized the hard work and dedication of many of its nurses caring for residents and patients.
Remote work certainly has its challenges. Fostering camaraderie and collaboration in this environment requires management to take a proactive stance that focuses on corporate culture, both in the workplace and among those employees working from home. For employees to feel truly connected to an organization, internal communication is of the utmost importance. All-hands meetings — whether in person or via teleconferencing — newsletters, and emails should be held on a regular basis. And equally important — have fun. Team-building activities can foster collaboration in a casual, low-stress manner that will carry over to the workplace.