How to Make Promotions Fairer in a Hybrid Work Environment

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Though most businesses have fully opened back up since the pandemic began, many industries are continuing to embrace the hybrid work environment. Many companies are even encouraging their staff to work remotely, finding that it improves employee satisfaction and productivity. However, as the remote work trend continues, many employers and HR experts find that employees who physically show up to the office are more likely to receive promotions.

Though this might seem reasonable to upper management and company decision-makers who value physical contact with their employees and feel they can more easily see their hard work, it’s not fair to those working just as hard from home or other remote work environments. This can seem especially unfair if a company is encouraging its staff to work from home.

If you want to create an ethical and accessible work environment and company culture, you have to take measures to make your promotion process is fair and equitable. It shouldn’t matter if an employee works in the office or not. If they put in the hours and get the job done, remote workers should receive fair treatment and be given the same opportunities as those who show up in person.

Creating an Equitable Promotion System for Hybrid Workers

Managing hybrid teams isn’t easy. Many companies and management teams can struggle to create an accessible and equitable work environment even when all of their employees work in-house. So learning how to keep things fair when you have employees working from home in addition to in the office is understandably challenging—but it’s not impossible.

Creating a fair system for a hybrid environment may take a little extra work, but it’s not that different from ensuring a fair system and managing employee promotions in a traditional in-office setting. Ultimately, you want to make sure everyone is given equal opportunity and not overlooked for any reason.

To start, consider the following points:

  • Make sure all contributions are being noticed and recognized. Whether in-office or remote, no employee should feel that their hard work goes unnoticed and underappreciated.

  • Ensure all workers have access to the same resources, tools, and support they need to achieve success. If everyone isn’t given equal opportunities, then everyone will not be equally recognized as eligible for a promotion.

  • Avoid preferential treatment of in-house staff. Make sure that none of your managers or others in leadership positions are giving more opportunities to those in the office simply because they are more accessible.

  • Check-in and communicate with remote employees the same as you would with in-house staff. Just because someone is working from home doesn’t mean they should feel left out and not given the same level of respect and engagement. There are lots of professional messaging apps out there that make it easy to communicate with your staff, whether about work or just for casual chit-chat.

If you keep the above in mind at all times, your management staff and decision-makers should more naturally see their in-house employees and remote workers as one and the same. If everyone is given the same opportunities, the same treatment, and communicated with on a daily basis, no one should get left out or forgotten. From there, deciding on who should get a promotion should be no different than how you would typically manage employee promotions, such as:

  • Notifying everyone ahead of time that promotions are coming

  • Reviewing employee performance

  • Seeking manager feedback

  • Assessing the needs of the position to be filled and matching it with those that have the skills

  • Offering different types of promotions to meet varying circumstances

Successfully Managing Hybrid Teams

Whether you are managing multiple office locations practicing hybrid work, or just one, the task at hand can seem daunting, but you’re not alone. Many companies are adopting both hybrid and fully remote work environments, and as it’s becoming the norm, there are lots of tips and tricks out there to help you maintain control and achieve success.

Most important of all is to remain accessible to your staff. While this might have been more challenging a decade or two ago, advancements in tech have given us lots of tools and resources to make remote work environments easily manageable. A good messaging app and video conference software is often all you need to stay in touch. Just make sure to keep in mind the various time zones of your employees. Setting “office hours” that are accessible for all can help.

Another tip is to re-evaluate your pay scale and system to ensure everyone is being paid fairly. When employees start working from home and in other remote destinations, their pay should match where they are located, not where the office is. For example, certain areas have a higher cost of living and may also take higher taxes out of your employee’s paycheck. It can be helpful to consider paying employees in those situations more to offset their higher living expenses. This is often beneficial for your company as well because it means you can get rid of unnecessary in-office expenses that are no longer being used to make room in your budget.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how your company will create a more equitable promotion system for your hybrid work environment. There is no one right way to do it, but the key is to make sure all employees, whether in-office or remote, are equally recognized for their hard work and have access to the same resources and opportunities.

Ensuring your management staff is on board and regularly touching base with all employees is a good place to start, however, it is also crucial to get your HR team involved. Human resources are in charge of making sure everything is done properly, including ensuring the fair treatment of all staff. Sitting down with your HR department to develop an overall plan for supporting your remote and in-house staff should include the creating of a fair promotion process.

Jori Hamilton