Strategy & LeadershipHR EffectivenessLevelling up leadership in a hybrid world: the key trends for employers

Levelling up leadership in a hybrid world: the key trends for employers

For hybrid work environments to be successful, HR leaders must foster a culture which prioritises employee wellbeing and places satisfaction front and centre. A mindset which is focused on growth and yet embraces flexibility will also be crucial

Workforce expectations have evolved, and new considerations have arisen for leaders in ensuring the office space is conducive to productivity and staff feel empowered to do their best work. Leadership teams are seeking new routes to maintain and build vital office connections and must prioritise collaboration with managers to effectively support employees’ needs. Leaders must capitalise on these openings and acknowledge staff experiences, consolidate on their learnings from the last two years to work towards implementing effective and robust hybrid working models, which work just as well for individuals and teams as they do for leaders within the organisation.

With this opportunity to take the hybrid workplace forward, leaders must have intent and a growth mindset and put employee satisfaction at the forefront. The best leaders will create a culture that embraces flexibility and prioritises employee wellbeing to build a thriving organisation and contribute to driving growth long-term.

Employee expectations have shifted

Organisations are exploring the next chapter of the hybrid shift. What people want out of work and what they are willing to sacrifice for a job has evolved. How can organisations meet employees’ new ‘worth it’ equation, whilst also balancing business outcomes in a turbulent and unpredictable economy?

Employees and leaders alike agree on the importance of having an effective hybrid strategy, to the extent that 51 per cent of UK workers would consider leaving their company if hybrid working was removed, while 59 per cent of HR decision makers agreed that hybrid working had had a positive effect on the mental wellbeing of staff. Furthermore, employee priorities have shifted for the better, with 53 per cent of workers saying they are more likely to focus on their health and wellbeing over work than they were before the pandemic,  and 47 per cent seeking to prioritise their personal and family life. This presents a worthwhile opportunity for HR leaders to ensure the future workplace meets these needs, drives digital transformation, and equips employees with the technology they need to connect, learn, and embed into company culture, including Microsoft Viva, which aids organisations in meeting these employee goals.

Adapting hybrid to retain staff

Leaders need to make the office worth the commute, as more than a third of hybrid employees (38 per cent) say their biggest consideration is knowing when and why to come into the office. Making the office work for all employees looks different for every organisation, as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The key will be for managers to provide clear guidance to employees, using data-led tools, as they experiment to ensure hybrid working works best for everyone and paves the way for their future work routines.

This leaves HR leaders with an essential role to play in equipping the workforce with the skills, data tools and insights they need to help their teams succeed. Microsoft Viva supports organisations on their journey to transforming the employee experience and ensures the workforce is connected to their organisation’s culture, personal productivity insights, expert knowledge, and key learning resources, to help businesses set the standard for flexible work.

Management is the bridge to employee satisfaction

In a hybrid world, less information is absorbed through osmosis and informal channels. The role of managers, therefore, is critical for shaping and developing staff and fostering a company culture where people thrive. Managers serve as the bridge between evolving employee expectations and leadership priorities, and they hold the power to unlock the potential of hybrid work to proactively drive a healthy team culture and improve team effectiveness. They are, however, under pressure, with 54 per cent of managers feeling that leadership is out of touch with employee expectations and 74 per cent saying they don’t have the influence or resources to make change for employees.

When managers proactively provide support, as well as learning and development opportunities, team members feel closer to one another and their work. Managers can nurture the conditions that keep employees feeling connected, by using tools to foster productivity and wellbeing within their teams.

For example, using Microsoft Viva Insights offers managers the much-needed visibility into their team’s work patterns, that may indicate a trend towards burnout and stress, such as regular after-hours work, meeting overload or too little focus time. Equipping managers with the tools and training they need to make data-led decisions and in a framework that suits their specific organisational needs, empowers them to work with employees to make positive change and ensure their hybrid workforce works to the best of its ability.

Business leaders can also use tools to spot where changes in process could boost employee wellbeing and improve business outcomes. Data-led solutions like Microsoft Viva help to create a digital employee experience, spanning learning, wellbeing, creating company culture and connections. If employees are enabled to benefit from the free flow of information from management and leadership, as well as encouraged to live the mission and values of the organisation, they are more likely to feel valued and their talent may be retained for longer.

For more information on this topic, and other challenges facing HR leaders, sign up to Microsoft’s new roundtable series, produced in partnership with HRD. Sign up here

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