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Human Resources

Employee Retention & Engagement in a Hybrid Work World

By Accounting Resources June 02, 2022
Hybrid Work

The global pandemic gave rise to a new paradigm for office workers. 

Since the pandemic hit, hybrid work opportunities for professional jobs have increased more than 350 percent. In addition, one-quarter of all North American professional workers are no longer required to be in an office full time.

Given the hybrid work, the model appears to be permanent for many businesses, it presents both challenges and opportunities for employers to engage and retain employees. 

Hybrid Work Arrangements Can Make Employees Feel Disconnected  

Unfortunately, in a hybrid work environment, there’s no substitute for the proverbial water cooler – or hallways – or group lunches – or face-to-face meetings.  

Without these ties to bind employees together, employees can often feel disconnected from their job and their colleagues. When this occurs, they can become less engaged with their work – leading to a decline in performance and perhaps, eventually, a move to another employer. 

Strategies to Encourage Employee Engagement

Because we are essentially living history as we’re writing it, successfully managing a hybrid work environment requires a lot of attention and a bit of creativity. It means continuously analyzing what’s effective and what’s not and finding ways to improve things that are not. 

For example, if you want to promote a collaborative atmosphere and ensure employees can see one another, share ideas and work together, you may need to establish a core workday – one day of the week in which everyone is required to come to the office to foster connections.

Employee Engagement Promotes Retention

Depending on the size of the organization, budget constraints, and the different types of challenges an organization may face, core days may involve attending a staff meeting, a team lunch, or some other communal activity.

Because food brings people together, one of our non-profit clients has arranged for an ice cream truck to visit their location. During this time, employees enjoy a treat, take in some sun, and spend a few minutes chatting with colleagues in a laid-back atmosphere. This is a relatively low-cost way to send a signal that managers are paying attention and actively encouraging interaction among employees. 

Other clients have had success organizing such things as bowling events, trips to local sports venues, or visits to a local winery or brewery – anything that encourages employees to spend time together having a bit of fun. 

Actionable Ways to Retain Talent

In a 2022 Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) survey, C-suite executives reported that hiring and retaining talent is currently their biggest concern. Almost half (48%) of respondents said it is the biggest impediment to their business achieving growth targets. 

With the economy having lost 3.6 million jobs in the last two years, the workforce today is smaller than it was before the pandemic. That means there are simply not enough people to fill job openings. So, how does an organization retain the workers it has?

  • Offer retention bonuses: Bonuses can serve to encourage new employees to stay with the firm until they have had time to establish themselves. This makes it more likely they will remain long- term. We recommend structuring bonuses over at least an 18-month period – for example, a bonus paid in three six-month increments.

    Because the labor market tends to be cyclical, the rationale is that it will likely stabilize in the coming months. If you are able to retain existing staff now, additional candidates will be available to toss their hats into applicant pools in the future.
  • Schedule check-in discussions: Sometimes the most effective and least costly way to retain employees is one that employers often overlook: open communication.

    Top performers thrive on constructive feedback that keeps them interested and engaged in what they are doing.

    It’s good practice to check in with employees regularly during a designated time to gauge if they are comfortable and happy in their position, to address concerns, and/or to discuss feelings of stress or discontent.

    Oftentimes, it is more effective to assign a mentor rather than the employee’s manager to conduct such check-ins because the employee may be more apt to share concerns openly with an impartial mentor rather than his or her direct manager. 
  • Provide recognition and praise: Employee recognition awards are one of the simplest ways to recognize employees, boost engagement, increase productivity and improve retention.

    In fact, in a study from SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) 84% of HR managers agreed that recognition positively affects employee engagement. Studies also show that recognition programs are even stronger when they are aligned with the organization’s values.

There are several ways for employers to recognize employees. These include:

  • highlighting the individual and their achievements at a company gathering or staff meeting
  • providing a gift card to a local or online store
  • distributing company promotional items, such as apparel or branded tech gadgets 
  • issuing a formal certificate of appreciation 

It may also be beneficial to give employees a say in recognizing their peers. When employees know that the recognition they receive has come from their peers they feel more empowered within the organization. And empowered employees are less inclined to look elsewhere.


Employee retention relies on a combination of factors, including flexible work arrangements, competitive benefits, professional development, advancement opportunities, and, of course, company culture.

If your organization is struggling with engaging and retaining employees, our experienced Human Resources team is ready to help. If you would like to learn more about how we can assist you, contact us today.

In the meantime, check out five best practices to invigorate your recruiting process and tips for effective employee onboarding

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