Beyond the Office Space: Innovating Employee Engagement Strategies
In any organization, employee engagement plays a huge part in achieving success. Much has been said about its benefits: how engagement helps boost morale, increases satisfaction, and promotes a sense of purpose in the workplace. Engaged employees feel encouraged to be more productive because they understand the company's mission, values, and goals—as well as the part they play in the bigger picture.
All that said, there’s a prevailing belief that physical proximity is necessary for employees to be engaged. But at StraightArrow, we believe that engagement is more than that: it’s about building meaningful connections between individuals and recognizing that employee engagement can transcend physical boundaries.
When the hybrid work setup emerged in full amid the events in 2020, it was a fairly new concept for many companies in the Philippines.
Given its novelty, this meant that best practices and resources specific to hybrid workforces were—and still are—scarce. Fully embracing a hybrid work setup meant learning from and rethinking how we could address the specific challenges for employee engagement, given the clear differences between in-office and remote work.
Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash
Doing so would require us to innovate and evolve the way our team members interacted with each other given the hybrid set-up. To do this, we decided to:
- leverage existing communication tools
- integrated interactive elements to virtual meetings, and
- began exploring more personalized engagement initiatives
These steps bring us closer towards our goal of keeping our team connected and motivated—regardless of their physical location.
But navigating the evolving landscape of employee engagement isn't always a walk in the park.
We reached out to our Head of People, Lian Ines-Noble, to talk about the different challenges faced by the People Department as we navigate the transition to a full hybrid work setup. This transition has significantly transformed our work dynamics and how we interact with colleagues. And as we aim to enhance employee engagement initiatives, it's important to address these challenges:
- Encouraging active team member participation
- Integrating new HEROes into our culture
- Willingness to participate in engagement initiatives
- Creating activities that work for both on-site and remote participants
Since our workforce is fully hybrid, we need inclusive engagement activities that take our two modalities into consideration, which includes concerns such as roadblocks around busy shifts and client meetings, which cause scheduling conflicts further impacting participation.
Another concern is the matter of new team members, who don’t come into StraightArrow immediately knowing what a HERO is or how it represents our culture of being happy, engaged, results-oriented, and open & honest. New team members may feel out of place and hesitant to reach out due to a new environment, which means it’s critical for employee engagement to bridge that first hurdle.
Furthermore, the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in social fatigue, due to the restricted social interactions during lockdown. This has left our brains on high alert as they strive to readjust to the new normal.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels
While these challenges might have been setbacks, they have also become the foundation for our best practices. Here are some of the things our People Department has implemented as a response to these challenges:
- Two schedules for activities (such as our weekly wellness programs) for those in different shifts to join at their convenience
- Recordings of activities for those who miss out on the two scheduled sessions
- Hybrid format for events where HEROes can participate through a live stream, yet still enjoy in-person perks such as food, music, and prizes
- The Neo HERO Meet Up, which serves as an onboarding session for all newcomers to familiarize themselves with StraightArrow’s culture and goals
It's important to note that none of our activities are mandatory. At StraightArrow, we never force our HEROes to attend any of our events, whether online or in person. All we encourage is that they let us know the reason why they are unable to attend events and how we can improve future activities. Acknowledging and respecting the boundaries of our team members is an integral part of the holistic experience that we aim to provide.
Navigating Employee Engagement Challenges
Employee engagement strategies rely on the company's culture and its human resources (HR) department; its initiatives and activities serve as avenues for team members to connect and interact with each other. For employees to truly want to be engaged, the importance of building such a connection should already be established within the company culture. This is why it’s critical for StraightArrow to reach out and connect with our HEROes, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the organization.
Building such a strong connection starts with our People Department reaching out to team leaders to establish a rapport, get to know other team members, and understand our HEROes needs and sentiments. This approach lets team members know that their input is valued in shaping the company's direction. It also helps establish a holistic approach to employee engagement that goes beyond traditional boundaries.
Our commitment to fostering a culture of engagement is further reflected in our regular initiatives:
Monthly Town Hall
In these monthly meetings, our top leadership shares metrics to keep everyone updated on how the company is performing. This includes productivity metrics, sales data, a review of our 1-Year Plan and 3-Year Picture™, and even employee milestones such as birthdays and work anniversaries.
StraightArrow’s Hybrid Town Hall Setup
These are 30-45 minute sessions wherein we brainstorm and problem-solve issues together. These issues are not exclusive to problems. They can also be questions, suggestions, or even ideas and observations.
Investing in our team's growth is an investment in our collective success. SA Academy is our commitment to continuous learning and development. This platform allows us to empower our HEROes to expand their skills, enrich their knowledge, and grow personally and professionally.
In an effort to provide our team members with a space to collaborate and discuss key topics, People has launched the initiative of creative summits. This kicked off with our first Leadership Summit last April, which gave our leaders across different departments an opportunity to meet each other face-to-face and participate in team-building activities that promote a creative and collaborative sharing of insights from a leadership perspective.
This paved the way for the Creative Design Summit, where our designers had the opportunity to sharpen their skills with technical and timely discussions, as well as socialize and foster a stronger sense of community. Soon, we’ll be holding a Creative Tech Summit and, eventually, a Digital Marketing Summit as well.
Creative Design Summit 2023
These initiatives and activities are what shape our vision of enriching the experience of our team members. It's also why we proudly call our employees HEROes. By involving them in most, if not all, company matters and engaging in conversation with them, we foster transparency and build trust, helping us establish a strong company culture that puts our team members first.
Transcending Boundaries, Building Connections, and Engaging HEROes
By listening to the voices of our team members, we get a pulse of what they need, how to better engage with them, and how to provide them with a more holistic experience at StraightArrow. More importantly, it helps us establish our own best practices so that we can continue to foster a happy and engaged culture.
Here are some of the activities that our People Department hosts to contribute to this effort as well as boost employee morale and well-being:
Mindful HERO Checklist
Last May, People Experience, the group under People that handles activities and events, launched a new activity focused on self-love where they dared everyone to be a mindful HERO. This event was composed of a checklist of actions that team members had to complete to win a prize.
The checklist covered light-hearted prompts such as “read a chapter of a new book” or “take a selfie with your mom, family, or loved ones,” which helped our HEROes take a step back from their work to reconnect with their hobbies and the people around them.
Mindful HERO Checklist Activity
Weekly Skype Challenge
As part of StraightArrow's anniversary celebrations, the People Experience team led a weekly Skype challenge. Playing with the idea of SA turning 13 and becoming a "teenager", the challenge revolved around reminiscing our own teenage years and sharing tidbits about who we were as young HEROes.
These prompts were sent via the company group chat, and HEROes were free to share photos and stories about that prompt.
To support our HEROes’ physical and mental health, we have our Wellness Wednesdays, which refers to weekly sessions featuring activities that promote well-being, such as meditation, chair yoga, dance sessions, and even shadowboxing. These wellness sessions are simultaneously held through a hybrid Zoom and an on-site setup so that anyone can join in, whether they’re working in the office or at home.
Last June, we joined the annual PRIDE March for the first time as an organization to show our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and to raise awareness for the LGBTQIA+ community across the world.
StraightArrow at Pride March 2023
StraightArrow's 13th Anniversary Party
June also marked our 13th year of creative process outsourcing excellence. As part of our celebrations and to celebrate company breakthroughs, we capped the quarter with a big, hybrid anniversary party complete with food, music, and festivities.
StraightArrow’s 13th Anniversary Party
Measuring Employee Engagement Success
Even as we dive into the exciting employee engagement programs we've rolled out in recent months, it’s important to take a step back and see how we measure their success. Measurement strategies ensure that our HEROes are thriving and also help us fine-tune efforts to create an even more engaging and rewarding work environment.
To do this, we've embraced the power of surveys and feedback mechanisms to collect input directly from our team members. Our Management Satisfaction Survey (MSAT), Monthly Employee Satisfaction Survey (ESAT), and event evaluations ensure that every voice is heard, providing a safe space for employees to express their thoughts, ideas, and even concerns. Most importantly, it lets us know the strengths that we can leverage and the areas we can improve on.
Outside of the usual KPIs (such as target attendance), our People Department gathers granular data through the event evaluation forms to help them analyze the different aspects of each initiative. This includes evaluating volunteer hosts, program flow, games, and vendor-assigned responsibilities such as food and live streaming services (for hybrid events).
The People team’s survey form for Game Nights & Activities
"Most of our evaluations are lengthy, and we made it that way so that we can gather as granular data as possible. If we're changing something, we want to get the thoughts of the people."
As we build connections, it’s also important for us to measure our success and get feedback from our HEROes so that we can troubleshoot any issues that arise and continue to innovate and improve.
Employee Engagement: Where Connection Knows No Bounds
At StraightArrow, we're out to shatter the misconception that physical proximity is needed to have engaged employees. Our hybrid work setup, combining in-office and remote work, exemplifies that employee engagement transcends spatial boundaries.
Hybrid Setup for ISO Awareness Training
As we continue to explore different employee engagement initiatives, we also continue to address any challenges that may come our way. Overall, one thing remains clear: Employee engagement is the heart of our organization's success. It isn’t just about what we do, but how we do it and, most importantly, who we do it with. Our commitment to a culture of engagement and inclusivity reflects our belief that every team member plays a pivotal role in our collective journey.
We're always striving to improve and learn new things so that our team can succeed and our company can thrive. It's important to us to keep our culture of teamwork and involvement strong.
Looking for a workplace that values creativity, collaboration, and innovation?
Check out our careers page for current opportunities, and take the first step towards a fulfilling career with StraightArrow!