By - June 30, 2021

Employee Engagement in the Hybrid Workforce: Key Insights You Need to Know

employee engagement

How do your company’s employees feel about their jobs? Are they invested in your company’s mission and proud of how they contribute to it, or are they just clocking in and out? The answers could reveal your level of employee engagement.

The more committed and connected to your organization your team members are, the more engaged they’ll be. This metric is like your company’s temperature—and tracking this vital sign helps you understand the overall health of your workforce.

If your company is adopting a hybrid workforce model, fostering engagement is even more critical and challenging. When employees have less in-person time with colleagues and managers, it’s important to make sure they still feel, and act, like integral parts of the team.

Employee engagement drives real results

Engaged employees have positive perceptions of your company, which can boost its reputation. But they don’t just have warm, fuzzy feelings about your organization. They also feel accountable for their work, and ultimately the company’s success.

That sense of ownership drives measurable results. Gallup studied employee engagement across more than 112,000 teams and over 2.7 million employees. Teams in the top quartile of engagement dramatically outperformed those in the bottom quartile on key outcomes including:

  • 81% lower absenteeism
  • 23% higher profitability
  • 18% higher sales productivity

Engaged employees also tend to stay longer at their companies, preserving institutional knowledge and increasing retention. Retaining top talent is a key performance driver, and it’s more urgent than ever. Microsoft research shows 41 percent of their global workforce is likely to consider leaving within the next year.

Keep in mind that engagement is a dynamic measure of your company’s relationship with employees, and it can fluctuate based on factors in and outside your business. The pandemic triggered a “historic drop” in engagement, which is just now starting to rebound.

As your company adapts to a post-pandemic workflow, it’s critical to invest, or continue investing, in employee engagement. Actively engaging your employees is a win for them, your company, and you.

The missing link: employee experience

The case for improving engagement is clear—so how do you do it? Start by recognizing that engagement is the outcome of the employee experience.

The ways your company shows up for team members, whether through big initiatives or small kindnesses, add up to their employee experience. When team members feel the company supports them, they feel more invested in return.

On that note, companies that offer remote or flexible work options are well-positioned for success. Many companies have adopted a hybrid workforce policy that includes some employees working at home and others going into an office.

A hybrid workforce can improve productivity, output, and employee morale. In a Gartner survey of more than 5,000 employees, those who reported that culture had improved since starting to work remotely were 2.4 times more likely to report high employee engagement.

However, the benefits of remote and hybrid settings may not apply to all employees equally. According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, 61 percent of leaders said they were “thriving” in these settings — 23 percentage points higher than employees without decision-making authority. Team members in lower-level roles were more likely to merely “survive.”

C-suite and HR decision-makers need to be conscious of this gap and listen to what employees are asking for, so the company can invest in technology and benefits programs that fulfill team members’ real needs. Being flexible and nimble to meet employee expectations will differentiate companies from their competitors, according to research from Mercer.

Maximizing benefits engagement in a hybrid workforce

Clear, consistent internal communication around your benefits programs can directly improve the employee experience. Making team members aware of all the benefits available to them helps them feel supported in a remote or hybrid environment.

MetLife research shows that benefits are a higher priority to employees now more than ever. Benefits play an important role in employees’ sense of safety and security. As a bonus, employees who take advantage of benefits are often more loyal to their companies.

Yet even in a fully on-site setting, employees often don’t take advantage of benefits. Why not? From a team member’s perspective, enrolling can feel like a pesky “to do,” especially when those benefits are unclear or confusing to navigate.

The good news: You can break through the noise. Here are a few ideas to boost low employee engagement with your benefits programs:

  • Make it fun. Offer enrollment challenges to promote teamwork across locations, whether at home, in office or hybrid settings. One Tango Health client held a raffle to encourage more engagement with its benefits tools, including Tango Decision Assist. Employees who engaged with a tool received a virtual entry— ultimately boosting benefits usage by 20%.
  • Be creative. Don’t be afraid to try new formats to create attention-getting benefits communications. Telling stories and using spaced repetition are two of our favorite tactics to get employees to notice important messages.
  • Invite feedback. Ask employees what they need from the company during enrollment season and act on their recommendations, when possible. Tango Health clients often survey their employees to better understand their needs before making changes.
  • Be inclusive. Communicate in a variety of ways and formats to reach people where they are. For instance, you might host informal video meetings and offer on-demand webinars.
  • Evolve offerings. Make sure your policies and wellness programs reflect the new workforce and needs for work-life balance.
  • Plan for change. Upcoming health plan changes, as well as increased utilization post-pandemic, will need careful coordination, messaging, and employee support. HR can guide employees to re-engage with their health plans and become informed health care consumers, with education on topics like:
    • Preventive care (including vaccines)
    • Saving money on health care costs
    • Finding the right health plan for their needs

Proven strategies to increase benefits engagement

Here are some real-life examples from Tango Health clients that have cracked the code to benefits engagement:

Supporting the whole person

One company offers wellness plans and employee assistance programs that support team members’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Their multi-pronged approach includes:

  • Offering more flexible options for wellness programs to better meet the needs of their hybrid workforce
  • Educating team members about both programs in their new-hire guides
  • Deploying a yearlong content plan to cover specific aspects of these programs each month
  • Using a visual approach to make the communications easily scannable

Adapting communications across multiple formats

Another client with a hybrid workforce has pivoted its benefits marketing strategy to reach team members in multiple locations, by:

  • Creating both in-person and webinar versions of benefits meetings
  • Implementing new tools to streamline electronic communications
  • Continuing to send hard-copy materials, such as quarterly newsletters, to employees’ homes—making it easy for them to share information with spouses

Embracing and communicating change

During the upheaval of 2020, most teams made only incremental changes to their benefit plans. But now, many companies are working with brokers and consultants to determine which new benefits could support their newly hybrid workforces.

Even if your company is maintaining the status quo for benefits, it’s important to stay top of mind with team members. One Tango Health client didn’t have any major plan changes. But the company still promoted Tango Decision Assist to give employees a chance to use the tool and account for life changes, like the birth of a baby.

This company’s benefits marketing strategy included:

  • Securing buy-in from leaders and training them on the tool, so they could help spread the word
  • Highlighting the tool in open-enrollment messages and virtual presentations
  • Offering 1:1 conversations and software demos to show employees how the tool could calculate best- and worst-case scenarios
  • Asking employees to share the demo with family members to assist with joint decision-making

Adopting digital tools to increase benefits engagement

Decision support and benefits engagement tools can help employees understand and take advantage of your company’s full range of programs. A Willis Towers Watson survey found that 28% of employers offered or expanded access to digital engagement solutions, while 44% are planning or considering taking a similar action. 

These offerings can be very cost-effective. Tango Decision AssistTM Standard is a free benefits decision support platform that walks your employees through a personalized health plan recommendation based on their needs. Plus, it only takes about three minutes.

Planning for the future of work

In the post-pandemic era, companies have a unique opportunity to define the future of work, including how they support and motivate team members. Employee engagement is a strategic pillar that can position your company to recruit and retain top talent and reach bigger goals.

Whether you’ve adopted a hybrid workforce model or are still considering it, engaging employees will foster a strong culture that ripples outward. Increasing employee engagement means doing the right thing for your business and the people who drive it—and reaping the results for years to come.  For more info, check out this eBook, “The Hybrid Workforce and Its Impact on Employee Benefits”.

Tango Health Can Help.

Our software works to reduce the benefits learning curve and offers a centralized location for sharing helpful program information. Our tool provides early access so new hires can explore their benefits before official open enrollment begins!  

Ready to strengthen and streamline benefits education? Learn more about Tango Decision Assist™. 


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