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Employer branding measures in the hybrid workplace: How to increase employee retention in mixed and remote teams?

14/10/2022 2022/10

The New Work model of hybrid teams is now firmly established in many companies. But what about the psychological involvement of employees in the home office? How can internal employer branding help bridge the spatial and thus also emotional distance to the team and the company? Do we need new communication formats? Do we need more live events? Do we need completely new, innovative tools?

In the following blog post, we specifically address the opportunities that internal employer branding efforts offer and how you can deal with the New Work world while increasing employee retention.

NEW mixed & hybrid WORK and its challenge for employer branding measures

For most people, the horror of the pandemic is over. But in the world of work, it has brought about an almost disruptive change. People no longer want to give up the freedom and self-determination they once enjoyed as a result of the home office. Saving travel time is currently very popular. This not only optimizes our work-life balance, but also eases the burden on our wallets - especially in view of the high energy and fuel prices.

In short - our new work culture is and will remain hybrid in the future and thus employer branding measures must also adapt. In contrast to the lockdown in the pandemic, we are now dealing with a mixed situation. This is because not all team members are usually in the home office at the same time. 
The resulting mixed or completely remote teams bring new challenges. After all, home office employees sometimes have different or more intensive needs than office employees.

What is the main driver of job satisfaction?

If we are to determine employer branding measures, the first question we must ask ourselves as the situation changes is what influences job satisfaction. Studies show that there is a correlation between job satisfaction and perceived successful performance. Subjectively perceived success is more decisive for job satisfaction than proximity to colleagues. . 

So if subjective perceived performance leads to satisfaction and social proximity is not the deciding factor, do we still need employee retention measures for our mixed and remote teams? Yes, definitely! Because what the studies also show is a declining sense of belonging and thus a reduction in company loyalty among employees in the home office. This is exactly where employer branding measures come into play and the question: what creates the sense of belonging?

Corporate culture is responsible for the sense of belonging

According to a study published by LinkedIn and yougov, these three aspects are the main drivers of the sense of belonging to the company:

  1. Fairness
  2. Transparency (= communication)
  3. Participation

Fairness - the main contributor to the sense of belonging

Let's look at fairness: 58% of respondents want to be treated fairly. Especially when it comes to salary. Fair pay is a current buzzword. One way to satisfy this need is, for example, identical basic salary. In larger companies, the identical basic salary could refer to the respective (management) level. Individual projects or even length of service could increase the base salary. Your employer branding measures should therefore aim to present you as a fair employer.

Transparency through communication

For 16% of respondents, honest communication is important. No one likes to be told about decisions. So when managers ask their team to join in the discussion, this is unmistakable evidence of respect. 
Taking the "internal-first" communication rule into account also creates a sense of belonging. After all, who wants to hear about a new product from their company from the press or from a corporate post on LinkedIn? 

Do you speak the "silent language"? For example, the boss's huge ostentatious office chair communicates "This is where the boss sits." What does it tell you when an executive sits in the middle of an open-plan office? A lot! This person is approachable and accessible. You can communicate with her at eye level. This is also a form of respectful communication that you should communicate as an employer branding measure.

It's important to note that communication is even more important in mixed or remote teams than in teams that sit together in the office every day.

Participation in corporate affairs

It's actually very logical: if you participate in something, you are part of it. That's why 11% of respondents also say that for them, participation and co-decision-making is an important element in their sense of belonging.

A very effective participation tool is the employee survey. Ideally, it should be conducted on a regular basis, because this gives you the chance to discover developments very early on. In addition, if there are negative developments, they can be nipped in the bud with quick countermeasures. In the case of a very critical workforce, it makes sense to commission an external organization for this purpose in order to collect honest and thus also helpful feedback. If you receive particularly positive feedback, you should also pass this on to the outside world as an employer branding measure.

Company surveys, however, can provide information not only about opinions, but also about personal, psychological and physical sensitivities.
The most important keyword is work-life balance. Is it still perceived as good? Is there a demand for a resilience seminar

Another effective measure, for example, is the introduction of a brand ambassador concept. Here, social media-savvy employees can act as active communicators and opinion leaders. Through this activity, they develop a high degree of corporate identification, which has a contagious effect on their colleagues in a positive sense.

Three people at a desk, talking
In order for an employer branding strategy to be effective, suitable communication measures are essential.
In order for an employer branding strategy to be effective, suitable communication measures are essential.

Experiences, visibility and trust 

ARTS has been in the HR market for over 20 years. We have met and accompanied countless people. And time and again, we have observed that shared experiences in the form of an event - whether a company party or a teambuilding event - can significantly improve the sense of belonging and thus the emotional bond with the company. These events are also part of employer branding measures. A work-related workshop can also make a contribution. Even mini-formats, such as the joint online lunch, are experiences that can strengthen the emotional bond of mixed or full remote teams.

Some home office employees lack appreciation. Why? Because their daily work is not present and not perceived - it is invisible, so to speak. Here, a very consistent leadership behavior in the form of immediate feedback and praise helps. "Not reprimanded is praised enough" - this behavior is unfortunately still encountered in practice.... Try to give praise promptly, honestly and concretely. You will notice - you will also feel good afterwards!

And now to the topic of trust: According to an international LinkedIn study, 38% of German managers lack trust in their team. They fear that work will not be done properly in the home office. Only the Dutch are even more distrustful.

Unfortunately, you can't produce trust at the push of a button. But with trust, you reap trust. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. One employer branding measure can be regular daily contacts, such as the online daily in the morning, to give your own distrustful side a little reassurance.

Employer branding measures that make sense

Back in 2014, the economic psychologist Aaron Hurst published his book "The Purpose Economy". Today, the search for a company's purpose is booming. This is because the younger generations in particular, such as Gen Y and Gen Z, are questioning their work. They long for a greater sense of purpose in their company.

It is therefore worthwhile to set up your employer brand measures strategically. Formulate a purpose that is authentic and think about the company's values. Because the larger the identification surface offered by the employer brand, the greater the identification potential and thus the satisfaction and emotional attachment of the employees. As we saw at the beginning, this is especially important for home office team members or mixed teams.

Employee retention is a central strategic task of internal employer branding measures

In summary, increasing employee loyalty is therefore a central task of internal employer branding measures. The selection of employee retention measures, regardless of the type of team, should always be needs- and situation-oriented. Ideally, they should be based on verified findings from internal surveys. Above all, regular, transparent and trusting communication is important. And most importantly, employee retention does not have to cost a lot!

About the Author
Sally Kießling
Employer Branding Consultant

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