Great Work Events for Employee Engagement in Hybrid Offices

May 19, 2022
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Great Work Events for Employee Engagement in Hybrid Offices
Jacquelyn Wong
May 19, 2022

What is one thing nearly every successful business has in common? Engaged employees.

Engaged employees don’t only show up to work and check off their to-do-list items all day — these are people who connect with their company’s vision, give maximum effort to each project or assignment, and contribute to the success of their team. So, what do employees need to reach this level of engagement?

Strong, engaging leadership.

Try thinking of a company or group with a strong, motivational leader — either now or in the past. Chances are the company or group had an influential culture of engagement and achievement. Now ask, “What did the leadership do to improve engagement in their workplace?” Holding fun workplace activities is just one tactic they most likely used.

Yet, the majority of modern employees prefer hybrid work models,1 leaving businesses to devise engaging activities in a hybrid setting. To help you, we curated a variety of great hybrid work events that can help support employee engagement in your workplace.

The Importance of Employee Engagement

Beyond personal and group achievement, engagement has a significant impact on employee wellness and business performance. Engagement results in lower turnover rates, higher profitability, more successful executives, and fewer costs to companies.

But don’t just take our word for it: Look at the statistics.

Three employees laughing around a computer near a bookshelf‍

Engagement Statistics to Keep in Mind

High levels of employee engagement result in:

  • 59% Lower Turnover Rates in High Turnover Orgs.2 Lower turnover rates result in higher retention and more internal career opportunities.
  • 21% Greater Profitability.2 Highly engaged employees produce more work of higher quality than their disengaged counterparts.
  • 71% More Successful Executives.3 Executives perceive engagement as very important to the overall success of their business.
  • 34% Fewer Costs from Disengaged Employees.4 Disengaged employees slack off, burn out, and cost companies up to $550B a year.5

Now that we’ve established the importance of employee engagement, let’s look into some hybrid work events for engaging employees.

Work Events for Remote Employees

An employee looking outdoors from their home office with a laptop

Work events for engaging remote employees could include:

  • Online Communities. Create a space for employees to connect and share their various backgrounds and hobbies. This empowers employees to engage with each other through shared interests or experiences — requiring less hands-on management than planned, interactive work events.
  • Competitions & Voting Events. Want to engage music lovers, sports fans, or trivia experts in your virtual workplace? Send out surveys for the Grammys, create March Madness brackets, or challenge remote employees to biweekly challenges.
  • Social Activities. For new and veteran employees alike, icebreakers and other virtual social gatherings can be a great way to develop a sense of community online. Breaking down social barriers can help your employees feel more connected to their peers and company.6

Bringing remote employees together to create a sense of community and improve engagement is a challenge for managers in a hybrid workplace. Despite the lack of physical connection in this setting, there is a sure-fire way to use work events to engage at-home employees:

Incentivize Achievements with Personalized Events

Incentivized employees help businesses to achieve established goals with a 79% success rate.7 When fully remote or hybrid employees feel the incentivized goal is “inadequate,” they feel left out and unengaged with work. What do we mean by an “inadequate” incentive?

  • Gift Cards for Stores with Geographic Restrictions. For example, let’s say the incentive is a $100 In-N-Out Burger gift card, but an employee lives in Northern Virginia (where there are no In-N-Out restaurants). This may signal to the employee that they aren’t treated fairly compared to in-office employees.
  • Lifestyle Mismatch. A gym membership or fitness item for someone who doesn’t like working out could make an employee feel targeted by their employer. This could apply to fully remote, hybrid, and in-office employees altogether.
  • Unrealistic Goals. If the same two or three employees keep swiping up the rewards, employees who are also working hard may mentally check out because they feel like they’ll never win an incentive.8

What does this all lead to? Personalized events and incentives.

Set realistic goals for employees who are spending their work hours mostly at home by meeting regularly to set up personalized goals. If possible, plan incentives or jot down their interests. An employee with a newborn on the way may feel more engaged with their work if a spa day or $200 Amazon gift card is within reach.

Remote employees should be able to communicate with management about their hobbies and goals so that leaders can curate proper incentives and events to maximize employee engagement.

Work Events for In-Office Employees

Groups of employees socializing at a work party

Now that we’ve covered hybrid employees who spend the majority of their working hours from home, let’s turn to the in-office employees — those employees who prefer a desk or fresh space to achieve their goals.

You have plenty of options when it comes to planning a great work event for employee engagement. Similar to our previous suggestions, personalized goals are a great way to engage employees individually or as teams. In addition, you can use peers and other departments to your advantage — think of workplace-wide events!

So, here are a few ideas for great in-office work events:

  • Food & Culture Exchanges. Promote your progress and workforce by integrating DE&I initiatives into your office work events.9 Similar to creating online communities for your remote employees, in-person communal gatherings promote conversation, connection, and engagement through shared interests.
  • Sporting Events. Rent out a local sports field or gymnasium to bring employees together for a game of football, soccer, or any other office-favorite activity. Be careful about making these events mandatory, as you may create some legal and employee-relation risks.10
  • Reinvent the Lunch Hour. Take your company lunch to a local restaurant or find someone to cater. In tandem with supporting your local economy, this structured event may help 81% of your employees feel more engaged at work.11

A word to the wise, however: Be mindful of remote employees.

Do not make the mistake of worsening an employee’s feeling of social isolation. Missing an opportunity to make informal connections with peers and friends could mentally disconnect an employee from their organization — even to the point of leaving the company.6

Bring It Together: Hybrid Work Events for Engaging Your Office

Lots of employees celebrating with an outdoor party on a patio with bistro lights

Let’s quickly review some key points made thus far:

  • A high engagement rate has many benefits. 
  • Personalized incentives make a positive impact on engagement. 
  • Be mindful of people who can’t participate in person (or even remotely). 

So, what kind of hybrid work events keep all three points in mind?

An All-Hands Activity

An all-hands or “town hall” meeting is generally reserved for company-wide updates, annual reviews, or other work-related events. But what if an all-hands meeting could be informal? Here’s how you can turn a basic all-hands meeting into an engaging, hybrid work event:

  • Pop Culture Events. Whether it’s the Oscars, The Bachelor, or another workplace favorite, you can set up an event for the whole office to join. Host live predictions, give out awards, and find fun ways to engage your employees. If you don’t want to host the actual event, create one for yourself — like a workplace Oscars event where you highlight employees with movie-themed awards. Again, these shouldn’t be mandatory — send out surveys to gauge employees’ interest.
  • Media and Movie Events. By using an Umbrella License or resources from your favorite streaming service, you can plan to steam a movie for all employees in your hybrid office. Did your team crush a short-term goal? Take an hour or two from Friday to reward them with a meal and a movie.
  • Competitions and Awards. Whether it’s for a grand achievement or simply to recognize hard work, award events are an excellent way to engage employees who have met or exceeded expectations. These awards can go to individuals, teams, or entire departments depending on your goal. If you’re a larger organization, consider hosting smaller, more personalized awards ceremonies for teams that could use more recognition.

Out-of-Office Events

Five peers running outdoors in a desert at sunset

A hybrid work event does not have to take place in the office; that’s a misconception. Here are two ideas to engage hybrid employees outside of the office:

  • Bring People Together Outdoors. If you have hybrid employees scattered around a metropolitan area, bringing them together for a trip or paid night out could help bolster a sense of community. For employees with families or plus-ones, you could plan a trip to the local zoo or aquarium. Alternatively, you could let employees vote to buy tickets for a blockbuster film or play.
  • Encourage Community Engagement. Sometimes, companies don’t have to host an official hybrid work event at all, while still improving engagement. Consider important months such as Black History Month or Pride Month and reimburse employees up to $60 for eating at an LGBTQ+-owned or Black-owned restaurant in your area. You could reimburse employees for music, movies, or other consumables to promote engagement with community members.

Even when a hybrid work event takes place out of the office, your hybrid employees can develop a sense of engagement with your company. It takes time to build trust and engage your employees, but it will come with time and strong leadership.

Simplify Office Event Planning with OfficeTogether

Planning an engaging, hybrid work event shouldn’t be difficult. That’s why OfficeTogether created a helpful tool for scheduling and tracking event attendance so you can focus on employee engagement, not logistics. Request a demo to see how our easy-to-use software can improve employee engagement in your hybrid office.

Sources

  1. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/390632/future-hybrid-work-key-questions-answered-data.aspx
  2. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236366/right-culture-not-employee-satisfaction.aspx
  3. https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/achievers/hbr_achievers_report_sep13.pdf
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/karlynborysenko/2019/05/02/how-much-are-your-disengaged-employees-costing-you/
  5. https://www.hrdive.com/news/study-disengaged-employees-can-cost-companies-up-to-550b-a-year/437606/
  6. https://hbr.org/2020/03/a-guide-to-managing-your-newly-remote-workers
  7. https://www.dcrstrategies.com/employee-incentives/16-stats-employee-incentives/
  8. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesrealestatecouncil/2020/01/27/achieve-more-by-setting-smart-goals/?sh=26f6ac7a560e
  9. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2021/09/08/three-pillars-for-dei-lessons-from-two-years-of-structuring-a-program-from-the-ground-up/?sh=c0c688c388b9
  10. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/require-employees-attend-social-functions.aspx
  11. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/05/29/new-study-shows-correlation-between-employee-engagement-and-the-long-lost-lunch-break/?sh=56d255e94efc

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