Current State

Increasing employee engagement, along with improving inclusion, are the top talent priorities for employers in 2021, according to Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Outlook 2021 Study.

Engaging remote workers is especially critical because more than 75% of organizations had at least half their workforces working remotely during the pandemic, our research shows. Though the full-time remote workforce will shrink considerably as COVID-19 restrictions recede, about three-quarters of organizations say they will go to a hybrid model wherein employees whose jobs lend themselves to remote work will do so at least part-time. Remote work is here to stay.


Post-pandemic, managing employee engagement will become more complex than during the pandemic. Instead of a primarily remote workforce, employers must create and maintain good employee experiences for a hybrid workforce that could alternate days or weeks between office and home.


The volatility and ambiguity of the workplace evolution in the wake of COVID-19 puts a lot of pressure on already-burdened managers to effectively connect with remote workers while engaging the on-site workforce.

Non-managers face the challenges of continuing to balance remote work with personal and family responsibilities or switching between remote and on-site work on an ongoing basis. About two-thirds of employers say mitigating employee (including manager) burnout is important or critical going forward, our research shows.

Critical Question

While there are unique aspects to keeping a remote workforce engaged and productive, the principles of engaging employees are universal. Critical questions include:

• Do employees believe there is an atmosphere of trust?

• Do employees believe in what the organization stands for?

• Do employees feel a strong sense of belonging?

• Does your organization have a compelling employee value proposition?

• Do employees feel comfortable providing feedback on the culture?

• Do they believe feedback will be acted upon?

• Does your organization have diverse leadership that mirrors the composition of its workforce and customer base?

Brandon Hall Group POV

Employees want to have a sense of belonging and feel valued. The processes of creating that level of engagement may vary somewhat with remote workers, but let’s not make it more complicated than it is.

Engagement is an outcome driven by everyday employee experiences. Whether an employee is working at your office or plant, at a remote office or a home office, the competencies are the same. The delivery methods may differ.

Technology is a great enabler of every aspect of human capital management, including engagement, whether employees work on-site or remotely. A key to success is effectively leveraging technology to drive strong employee experiences wherever employees are. Many organizations used technology to keep employees connected during the pandemic. When they failed or faltered, the cause has not been the technology or the distance as much as culture, employee experiences and leadership. Here are four success drivers for remote or on-site employees.


Employers should focus on creating great experiences no matter where employees work. It’s important to define what good experiences look like for each work environment, then work to optimize them. Here is a worksheet we use for clients, the Employee Experience Moments of Truth. You can customize the types of experiences based on your company. Here are examples:


Employees want strong connections with leaders, especially the managers they work most closely with. Coaching, mentoring, performance feedback, career conversations, praise and recognition are important employee experiences. Develop these behaviors in your leaders and help them understand how approaches may change based on work environments.


For a rich culture of engagement to develop, employees must be regularly recognized for meaningful contributions and behaviors that support organizational values. Appreciation creates positive reinforcement, enhances employee experience and produces an environment of belonging and trust.


The Millennial and Gen-Z employees who will soon dominate the workforce place a high priority on learning new skills and career development. However, their desired career arcs are not always traditional. They often want to move horizontally into different areas of an organization rather than management. Employers must improve how they support employees’ career development through formal, informal and experiential learning experiences linked to competencies and career paths. Our research showed organizations that rated their career development highly are 2.25 times more likely than other organizations to have a highly engaged workforce.

Complimentary Research – Now is the Time to Revive Career Development (KnowledgeGraphic)

As workforces face dramatic change in the wake of COVID-19, career development’s failures provide a blank canvas for re-invention and investment.

This KnowledgeGraphic contains research highlights from Brandon Hall Group’s 2020 Career Development Study along with critical questions and suggested action strategies.

Download: Now is the Time to Revive Career Development (KnowledgeGraphic)


Brandon Hall Group Strategy Briefs answer the critical questions learning, talent, HR and business leaders must address to manage their human capital. To tackle these critical questions in more detail, we built tools, frameworks, research summaries and business builders based on up-to-date research and case studies for you to implement best and next Human Capital Management (HCM) practices. To gain access to these valuable resources, contact

Leading minds in HCM choose Brandon Hall Group to help them build future-proof employee-development plans for the new era. For more than 27 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world, influencing the development of over 10,000,000 associates and executives.

Claude Werder

Claude Werder oversees Brandon Hall Group's analyst team, new product development, corporate development, the HCM Excellence Conference 2015, publishing, and social media and marketing strategies for Brandon Hall Group. In that role, he manages Brandon Hall Group’s research priorities, Membership Program and Member Center, and Brandon Hall Group’s exclusive KnowledgeBases of research data and HCM solution providers, services and products.