In the coming months, are you returning to the office, letting workers stay at home, or doing a mix of the two? If you’re opting for the hybrid model, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten organizations say they plan to combine remote and onsite work, confirming the concept that the future of work is hybrid.

Hybrid arrangements seem to offer the best of both worlds. Ideally, you get the deep focus that comes from working at home and the collaboration and relationship-building that come from working in the same space. But let’s not forget that most workers are experiencing burnout at record levels. Fifty-four percent of HR leaders say their employees are fatigued from all the change they are experiencing and today’s average employee can only absorb half as much change as previously before becoming fatigued, according to Gartner.

The hybrid setting can allow flexibility, but it may also contribute to isolation and burnout. Workers are still likely to feel distanced from those outside their immediate team and many of the factors that led to high levels of burnout during the earlier stages of the pandemic remain in place. Managers and business leaders who support their employees’ well-being in this new environment could help reduce burnout and improve employee retention. Let’s explore how. 

Be a champion and a coach for your team

The profile of the ideal manager has changed along with the workplace. Yesterday’s micro-managers and overly authoritative leaders are now a real liability and have a negative effect on employee engagement. Today’s successful manager is more like a customer success manager: a person who makes others successful by being their champion and coach.

According to MIT Sloan’s Making Virtual Work a Win-Win report, champions advocate for their teams and coach their people to achieve peak performance while focusing on their well-being and personal development. Both roles involve a high level of emotional intelligence and building trust, both within their teams and with external stakeholders.

Empower your team. Lead the industry.

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Prioritize communication

In a hybrid setting, clear communication is key. When there’s no chance of running into someone in the hallway or stopping by their desk for a quick update, managers have to be intentional — and realistic — about communicating with their team. 

Shorter, more frequent communication tends to work better in the hybrid setting. Think Slack check-ins or 15-minute standups rather than hour-long meetings. Take advantage of asynchronous communication and set the expectation that people don’t have to respond immediately.

And keep in mind that communication goes both ways. A recent report from McKinsey found that “team leaders must also follow through with sharing, listening, and hearing the needs of their team members. Without true partnership at that level, top leaders’ talk about partnering with employees is just that — talk.”

Don’t reward burnout behavior

Work-life balance is especially tricky in a hybrid setting, so managers must be extra cautious to avoid rewarding burnout behavior. For example, many managers traditionally highlighted and applauded employees who made an extra effort during non-working hours. Instead, your managers should recognize long-term, quality work, and consistent performance. Successful leaders must build a sense of trust and involve the team in deciding which healthy behaviors deserve focus and promote well-being.

Embrace empathy

As everyone adjusts to the changing requirements of the workplace, one of the most important skills for managers to develop is embracing empathy. Instead of maintaining rigid expectations, whether it’s around working hours, locations, or workload, managers should strive for flexibility. It’s critical to understand what’s happening with each of their team members and encourage them to unplug and recharge. This is true both at the end of the day and for longer periods of time at intervals throughout the year. 

Support your managers — and everyone else

The past few years have been defined by stress and burnout — 78% of the global workforce has experienced negative effects on their mental health. And as we transition into the next hybrid phase of work, your managers have a key role to play in helping support employee well-being and success.

Wondering what else your company can do to prioritize employees’ well-being? Download the ebook How to Protect the Well-Being of Your Hybrid Workforce