Employee Engagement

1:1 with Chris Yeh: How to attract, manage, and retain employees in a hybrid world

Organizations are finally bouncing back from the pandemic—with many experiencing more explosive growth than ever before. But this has left many company leaders wondering: How do we navigate a high-growth environmentin the new hybrid workplace?

To answer this question, we partnered up with Lattice, BambooHR, and Culture Summit to host a webinar with our friend Chris Yeh, who has advised over 100 high-tech startups on how to handle the challenges that come with hybrid offices scaling fast. Together, he and Dave Carhart, Lattice’s VP of People, sat down to discuss how leadership teams can guide their companies through this year of transition and offer tips on attracting, managing, and retaining talented employees in a hybrid workplace. 

Ideas to attract, manage, and retain talented employees in a hybrid office.

How do I attract top talent as we transition into hybrid work?

Entering a period of growth is an exciting time for companies! But without an intentional approach, it can radically change an organization for the worse. According to Chris, the goal is to evolve your culture intentionally.

“What works for a company of 20 won’t work for a company of 20,000.” — Chris Yeh

He shared a few ideas on how to accomplish this: 

Activate your employee ambassadors.

If you’ve built a great place to work, your workforce will want to help attract and bring more talent into the organization. Chris encourages company leaders to take advantage of this opportunity to tap into their employees’ networks and expand their pipeline to attract more talent. 

If you want to motivate employees to bring in high-quality candidates, Blueboard offers referral incentives as a tool to build awareness and excitement around recruitment efforts. Tradeshift, a startup with “unicorn” status, decided to lean into this strategy and challenged its team to source 35% of all new hires through employee referrals. With our help, they exceeded that goal and sourced 40% of their new hires through a referral program that was powered by Blueboard experiential incentivesRead their full success story here.

Get your company leaders involved.

In his work with startups, Chris noticed that companies were more successful at closing great candidates when founders were involved in the earlier hiring stages. The reason? The founders had a deeper understanding of the culture they were trying to build. This meant they did a better job selecting talented employees who didn’t just match the current culture but also added to it with their own unique contributions and experiences. 

Of course, your company will eventually hit a stage where a founder’s involvement isn’t feasible. At that point, Chris recommends bringing in a cultural interviewer or a panel of culture champions—who aren’t part of the core hiring team—to speak with candidates. This adds objectivity to the process and increases your odds of hiring talent that will strengthen your culture.

How do I grow and develop the great talent I already have?

The manager-employee relationship is the most important partnership at a company. Managers play a pivotal role in an employee’s career growth and their sense of inclusion and belonging within an organization—two areas that are even more challenging to navigate in a hybrid workplace. Chris shared a few recommendations to help: 

Be explicit, rather than implicit.

Instead of leaving things unsaid, Chris encourages managers to be clear about what they expect from their direct reports, what their contributions do for the company, and what this accomplishes for the employee. This encourages feelings of inclusion and belonging because it gives every worker a clear understanding of their role at the organization. 

Be aware of unconscious biases.

People are inherently biased. In a hybrid workplace, this bias can translate to managers being more likely to give an employee who comes into the office a promotion over a hybrid or completely remote employee. Recognizing this tendency, managers should try to overcome these preferences by basing their evaluation on purely objective metrics and outcomes—not feelings and perceptions. More ideas on how to eliminate unconscious bias are covered in the inclusivity section of this related blog post

Recognize the contributions of employees.

Recognition is a critical tool for seeing and valuing teams during periods of hyper-growth. Whether it’s by giving shout-outs or rewarding employees through a spot recognition program, managers need to find ways to raise visibility around the contributions of their high-performing employees—regardless of whether they’re in the office or remote.

That’s why, at Blueboard, we’ve built our platform to grant managers a discretionary budget, which allows them to share rewards frequently with guidelines, as well as the ability to approve or deny rewards at an Admin level to ensure extra oversight. You can learn more about these features and benefits on our Employee Recognition Platform page.

How do I retain my employees when remote work is opening up so many new opportunities?

A good salary and benefits package is no longer enough to recruit and retain employees in a hybrid work environment. According to Chris, successful employers will offer the right type of leadership, invest in employee relationships, and find ways to make themselves a great place to work. Check out our company values award planning guide your people will love. Here’s what he recommends: 

Guide employees through the hybrid workplace transition. 

Remember how tough it was to adjust to the reality of the pandemic? We turned to our sourdough starters and Tiger King to keep us going. Chris points out that the return to work will be just as much of a psychological adjustment—and that to maintain employee retention, company leaders need to be prepared to support their employees through this transition. 

“CEOs and leaders need to be not only the commander-in-chief but also the comforter in chief. They also need to recognize that the best way to help people through this is to help them process it.” — Chris Yeh

Focus on the offensive, not the defensive.

Many organizations are worried about the potential impact of “The Great Resignation.” Chris believes this is the wrong way to think. Instead of focusing on the defensive, companies should be prepared to play the offensive.

Part of this is offering comprehensive benefits within their retention plan. But the other part is finding ways to give your workforce the best possible experience with your company. With this approach, Chris says even former employees become powerful ambassadors for your brand. “They’re your second most important group of people in terms of talent brand. So if you build great relationships with people who leave, you’ll be so much better off.”

Recognize their contributions.

A survey found that 69% of employees would be more likely to stay at a company that offered a better recognition program. We’ve seen first-hand with our clients that anniversary awards are one of the most effective programs when it comes to improving retention rates—especially when the company offers a particularly compelling award, such as experiential rewards.

Precision BioSciences, for instance, decided to partner with Blueboard to build an exceptional anniversary awards program that will help them stand out in the competitive Boston biotech market. The result? 100% of employees unanimously agree that Blueboard is an excellent tool for improving retention rates. Read their full success story online here. 

Building a resilient organization for the hybrid world.

By following these best practices, you can build a more resilient organization that helps you attract, manage, and retain employees during your period of hyper-growth—even in a hybrid work setting. 

Designing meaningful recognition programs that show your employees that they’re seen and valued is a great place to start. If you’re curious to learn how employee recognition can help you thrive in this new world of work, request a demo today for a 1:1 conversation with our Sales team. 

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