6 Ways to Build a Team That’s Passionate About Their Work

According to the State of the Workplace report by Gallup, 85% of employees are not engaged at their workplace. This number indicates a grave concern in modern workplaces where employees are not passionate about the work they do.

As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial to build a team that’s driven and invested in your company’s vision. The more determined your team will be, the better your performance as a group will be. 

In this article, we discuss the various ways in which you can build and hone a team that believes in the work it does and is determined to scale the heights of success.

6 ways to build a team that’s passionate about their work

No business can operate without employees performing various vital tasks. However, it’s the quality of those employees that makes or breaks a company.

Businesses with passionate, driven employees achieve targets and experience growth. While companies with unengaged employees at best manage to stay above the line. 

Passionate employees bring more than just profit to your company. Here are a few key benefits of having dedicated employees:

  1. Increased productivity — You’ll achieve goals quicker and more efficiently, making the most of your resources.

  2. Positive work culture — Passionate employees make a positive environment where constructive conversations flow and people unite toward a shared vision.

  3. Reduced employee turnover — When employees enjoy the work they do with you, they’re less likely to look for better jobs and stay with you long-term.

  4. Better relationship with employees — Employees that care about the work they do are more likely going to engage with your efforts toward building a long-term relationship with them. 

We’ve elaborated some tried-and-tested strategies to help you build a team of dedicated, passionate employees that take your company forward and bring positivity to the workplace.

1.Make the most of the employee engagement platforms

When it comes to engaging employees at work, employee engagement platforms have emerged as a feasible solution for companies. They are especially beneficial for small to mid-sized businesses that might not be able to allocate many resources to this particular aspect.

Make the most of employee engagement platforms as a part of your employee engagement strategy to help employees become more absorbed in the work they perform. It will achieve this by the following means:

a) Providing performance reviews

The platform lets employees know how well they performed a task, what their shortcomings are, and how they can improve in the future. This helps employees learn about their work and get more engaged with it.

b) Providing perks

This is perhaps the most popular function of an engagement platform. It provides perks and benefits to employees they can redeem by performing tasks well. It motivates them to do well.

c) Employee recognition

Recognizing the hard work performed by passionate employees is one of the most effective ways to boost their engagement with you. The platform recognizes high-performing employees and allows you to reward them in various ways.

d) Gamification of day-to-day work

The platforms convert everyday tasks into quizzes, puzzles, and games that employees can perform to gain points and compete with fellow employees. It keeps employees entertained while also promoting healthy competition.

Using an employee engagement platform simplifies the task of keeping your staff entertained and hooked with the work they do. It ignites sincere passion in them to perform well and excel at their job. This in turn brings excellence to your company’s performance as a whole.

2.Incorporate video to enhancce employee communication

Employee communication has taken a major hit with the rise of remote working. This has directly affected employees’ engagement with their work. Using videos can be an excellent way to enhance employee communication and through it, their engagement.

75% of employees prefer to watch a video than read a document, text, or email. Use videos to relay important messages to your employees and converse with them in general. The use of video brings a human connection to your interactions with them.
It allows them to view your company as a group of people working toward a shared goal rather than a faceless corporation. They’re going to be more inclined to put in their best efforts when they can freely converse with their fellow employees with ease.

Include video content in training and development exercises. It helps them refrain from the information better and engage with it. Use an online tool like Happy Scribe to add optimal value to the video content you provide to your team. 
The goal is to enrich the communication you have with your employees to make them understand your values and vision better. The more they align with your vision, the more passionate they’ll be about the work they do.

3.Hire Passionate People

Your team will automatically be filled with passionate employees when you hire passionate people. We understand that this is easier said than done, but the idea is to be more vigilant in your hiring processes to pick suitable candidates.

Pay attention to the attributes candidates possess during screening, tests, and interviews, and determine if they are passionate about their career and past work. This helps you gauge how they will engage with the work you do in your company
If they were dedicated and driven in their past work or possess qualities such as public speaking and problem-solving, they are likely very driven individuals who are dedicated to the work they do. And they’ll do the same when they work for you.

Here are a few tips to identify and recognize passionate candidates:

  • Pay attention to the following sections of the resumes of candidates: hobbies, volunteer work, and awards received. 
  • Include behavioral assessment in the employment tests you conduct during hiring.
  • Call the references candidates list in their resumes. People who know them and have worked with them will be able to tell you better about their drive and dedication to work.
  • Ask pointed questions in the interview about their passion for work and observe their responses.

4.Reward hard-working employees

Recognition is one of the easiest ways to drive dedicated employees to perform even better in the future. Keep an eye on the performances of your team and single out the ones who perform the best, preferably in front of everyone.
Reward these individuals to let them know their hard work is seen and valued. It makes them feel seen and appreciated and ignites a new vigor in them to perform even better in their next tasks. Make sure to publicly reward them as it has dual benefits:

a) First, It makes the employee happier to be rewarded in front of their peers. It adds to the thrill of being rewarded.

b) Second, it promotes healthy competition in the workplace as the employees who see their peers get rewarded feel pushed to perform better so that they can also be rewarded.

There are many ways you can reward employees. The ideal way would be to reward them according to the magnitude of their achievement. Here are a few ideas, both big and small:

  • Bonuses
  • Paid leaves
  • Lunches/Dinners
  • Gift cards
  • Handwritten notes with flower bouquets
  • Paid vacation

5.Instill trust in them

Trust is the foundation of a positive work culture that fosters passionate and driven employees. To build a team that is passionate about the work it does, you need to instill trust in them as well as make them believe in your vision.

If you can, have a personal chat with them. Let them know about your vision and how you see them fit into the company culture. Ask them about their plans regarding working with you. The openness and transparency you show instills trust in them that they’re sure to reciprocate in the work they do.
You may also indulge in group activities where people converse, interact, and engage with one another. It breaks the ice amongst them, so to speak, and makes the work environment positive all around. This also contributes to building trust in your team.

6.Make employees feel included

Include your employees in activities performed by the company. This lets them know that you view them as a valuable member and want them to be seen as associated with your company. This further motivates them to perform well as the company’s image is now attached to them.

Here are a few ideas to make employees feel included:

  • Making teams eat lunch together to allow them to bond.
  • Sending them to public events on your company’s behalf.
  • Arranging for them to do volunteer work.
  • Establish communication channels in every team for robust internal communication.

Make work fun and employees feel included to build passionate teams

Employee engagement is a pressing concern in the working landscape of today, especially with the rise of remote working. 

To build a team that’s passionate and driven about its work, start by hiring people that fit your company’s vision. Enable and empower your team with the help of employee engagement platforms. Strengthen communication with them with the help of videos.

Recognize passionate employees and reward them. Make everyone feel included and foster a culture of positivity and growth.

Let us know in the comments how you think teams can become more passionate about their work.

By Atreyee Chowdhury

Atreyee Chowdhury is a freelance content writer with more than 10+ years of professional experience. She’s passionate about helping SMBs and enterprises achieve their content marketing goals with her carefully crafted and compelling content. She loves to read, travel, and experiment with different cuisines in her free time. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

Why don’t you trust your employees?

Trust is one of the most essential forms of capital a leader can have. When employees trust their leaders, it unleashes higher performance. Employees are more engaged, productive, and innovative. They experience lower levels of stress and burnout and are more likely to stay in their jobs. Good leaders understand these benefits and actively work to earn and develop the trust of their team members and colleagues.

But sometimes, a lack of trust flows in the opposite direction, and leaders find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of distrusting someone on their team.

In this unique age of remote and hybrid work, it’s perhaps no surprise that a scarcity of trust among leaders for their employees is now at an all-time high, a perspective confirmed in the recently published Microsoft Work Trends Index. Lack of trust in an employee leads to troublesome outcomes. It can cause leaders to feel anxious and frustrated, hesitant to delegate, and prone to micromanaging. Unfortunately, the adverse effects of leader distrust can also extend beyond the specific leader-employee relationship, stealthily diminishing innovation, morale, and performance of the broader team.

Steps to Take When You Don’t Trust Your Employee

Two-way trust is paramount to a healthy and productive leader-employee relationship. If you find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of distrusting a team member, here are five steps to help you address the issue and move forward.

1. Pinpoint the source of your distrust

We often hear (and make!) comments like “I don’t trust them” or “They aren’t trustworthy.” We talk about trust in all-or-nothing terms, but trust is not some global entity — trust is situation specific. Rarely will you distrust everything about someone. For example, you may trust your team member’s technical expertise but not their ability to present their ideas to clients effectively.

Research shows that trust can be broken down into three components:

  • Competency
  • Consistency
  • Character

Trusting someone’s competence entails having faith in their ability to do the job. Consistency is the belief that the person is reliable — they do what they say they’ll do and perform as expected. Finally, trusting their character is believing that they have integrity and care about others and their needs as well as their own. Like the indispensable legs of a three-legged stool, each component of trust is crucial in a relationship.

To move past the black-and-white impasse of “They aren’t trustworthy,” ask yourself: Which component of trust is lacking here? What exactly did this person do or not do that has led to my distrust? Separate facts from assumptions and focus on specific problematic behaviours.

2. Identify the specific situations or assignments where you are willing to trust them

Make a list of the areas in which you do trust your employee, and consider how you might incrementally build on these areas in low-risk ways. Here’s how this might look like:

If you trust your employee to communicate effectively within the team, try involving them in cross-functional meetings or broader discussions.

If you trust your employee’s technical skills, try having them mentor a newer team member or guide them through a complex task.

If you trust your employee’s problem-solving abilities, try assigning increasingly complex tasks or providing more autonomy in tackling problems and coming up with their own solutions.

Focus on clear and frequent communication as you delegate and build on their tasks and responsibilities. Communicate the purpose and desired outcome of the task, your specific expectations and standards, deadlines, and their level of authority in making task-related decisions.

It’s also important to maintain regular one-on-one check-ins to ensure you remain aligned, offer the right amount of support, and create trust. To reduce hesitation in approaching you between these regularly scheduled meetings, share that you have an “open-door” policy.

When we feel like we can’t trust someone, we fear what might happen if we extend our trust, which often leads to more widespread micromanagement. So it’s critical that you give this person the opportunity to prove their trustworthiness. Excessive control and scrutiny will likely reduce their motivation, productivity, and feelings of ownership, which could result in behaviours that further erode your trust.

3. Provide feedback on the specific behaviours that are leading to your distrust

Recall which of the three components of trust is low (competency, consistency, and character) and specify the behaviours that have degraded your trust. For example, let’s say you identified that the source of your distrust is a lack of consistency. What exact behaviours have you observed that make you feel you can’t rely on them? Missed deadlines, failure to follow through on a stated commitment, or failure to respond to you in a reasonable amount of time?

Provide descriptive and specific feedback on the problematic behaviours, describe the resulting negative impact, and align on moving forward productively. For example, you might say, “For the last two weeks, you’ve missed the weekly project status report deadline. Consequently, I haven’t been able to provide a complete project update to the executive team. Can we discuss what’s causing the delay and create a plan to rectify the situation?”

High-quality feedback strengthens relationships with your team member and builds trust. Remember that no one considers themselves untrustworthy, so avoid using the “trust” word during your conversation.

4. Reflect on what you might be doing (or not doing) to contribute to the situation

Each person shapes a relationship’s dynamics and outcomes, so it’s essential to consider your role in the current situation. Trust can erode when employees don’t have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Is it possible that you haven’t provided sufficient clarity or guidance?

Trust is inherently reciprocal. In other words, the more someone trusts you, the more likely you are to trust them in return. As such, try boosting trust in this relationship by shifting your focus away from what this person needs to do to regain your confidence to how you might signal your own trustworthiness. Again, recall the three components of trust. How might you demonstrate your judgment and expertise, integrity and care for them, and your dependability? For example, could you show your character by being honest, transparent, and accountable for a recent mistake?

Also, consider whether a lack of visibility might be contributing to your distrust. With sparser in-person interactions, there’s more room to make negative and baseless assumptions about others. Would scheduling more face-to-face time with this person be helpful? Alternatively, do you need to let go of “seeing” them work and focus on impact instead?

5. Ask yourself whether the breach of trust is irreparable

While trust is a tangible asset you can create in a relationship, sometimes a situation is severely beyond repair; for example, discovering that your team member has lied, breached confidentiality, or engaged in deeply disrespectful behaviour. If a team member has crossed certain boundaries, the right course of action — for the integrity of your leadership and the health of your team — might be to trigger an immediate investigation or consider dismissal.

This unfortunate situation can also develop when the behaviour is less severe, but your dedicated trust-building efforts haven’t led to improvement. In these cases, consulting with HR and considering parting ways may also be warranted. Bi-directional trust is a fundamental aspect of a healthy-employee relationship; without it, the leader, the employee, and the broader team suffer. Create a plan based on the steps outlined above, give it time, and know that trust can be rebuilt in most cases, leading to a happier, more productive workplace for all.


Take the first step towards transforming your remote work culture by requesting a free demo assessment from Great People Inside.

Our team of experts will guide you through the assessment process, showcasing the effectiveness and value of our tailored solutions for your organization.

During the demo, you will have the opportunity to explore the comprehensive features and functionalities of our psychometric assessments, experiencing firsthand how they can empower your HR strategies and drive positive outcomes. From personality assessments to cognitive abilities and team dynamics evaluations, our assessments provide valuable insights to enhance talent management and foster inclusive remote work environments.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to test the power of unbiased HR solutions. Request your free demo assessment from Great People Inside today and embark on a journey of fair and effective talent management in the remote work era.

Together, we can unlock the true potential of your remote teams and achieve remarkable success.Request a Free Demo Assessment.

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6 Tips for Creating a Balanced and Engaging Work Culture in 2023

In the past, people believed that the only prerequisite to succeed in business was a great idea. While this is a prerequisite, people noticed that some businesses with great ideas last longer than others. It didn’t take them long to figure out the deciding factor was the work culture

With that in mind, here are the top six tips for creating a balanced and engaging work culture that will last in 2023. 

1. Become better at solving scheduling problems

The majority of workplace issues arise from scheduling problems. This is what makes people stressed out and causes conflicts in the workplace. So, by creating a balanced and engaging work culture, you have a better chance at creating a balanced and engaging work culture.

First, the easy way out. You can handle most scheduling problems and solutions via employee management software. So, getting one should be a top priority. This level of automation and coordination is hard to achieve manually. 

Still, even outside of this, there are many different areas that you should improve in so that you can create more efficient schedules. 

First, you need to understand the problem, and these problems can come in many shapes and forms:

  • Optimizing employee shifts
  • Meeting room allocation
  • Project timelines

These are just some of the issues that you’ll be facing.

Then, you need to understand that there are many constraints and that the schedule is not completely arbitrary. There are legal regulations. This may not be legal even if an employee agrees to do a 20-hour shift. 

Then, there are employee preferences and even resource availability. For instance, if you have operating space for just ten employees, having all the employees from both shifts appear simultaneously will not increase productivity. It may even decrease it.

Most important of all is the data. By getting enough information on the efficiency of your scheduling (overlapping, missed deadlines, etc.) and employee feedback, you’ll understand the problem much better.

2. Develop a better understanding of staff management

Staff management is an organizational skill that requires a lot of intelligence, multi-tasking, and empathy. Now, even though this description, it’s implied that this field requires a lot of talent, at the same time, it’s a skill, which means that you have a lot to improve.

Once again, ideally, you wouldn’t do this manually but, instead, use appropriate software for staff management. This will make your actions more accurate and proficient at core management tasks.

Other than this, you need to be better at communication. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu states that if the order is unclear, it’s the commander’s fault when they’re not executed. So, you must become better at setting clear expectations

Another thing you need to do is learn how to listen actively. Regarding feedback, people want to know that you’ve heard the point they were trying to make, not just nod silently while they’re speaking. You need to provide feedback while getting feedback, which is not nearly as intuitive for many people. 

Conflict resolution is one of the most important tasks of any manager. You’ll often be summoned as an arbitrator in a conflict you know little about. At this point, you must offer a compromise and remember that you can’t take sides even if one party is 100% at fault. You need to be fair and just but also conciliatory. Preserving the unity of the team is your high priority.

Your work culture is a great idea that needs to be enforced. You can achieve this through good management. 

3. Allow flexible work arrangements

You must allow people to work independently and under their conditions. This is incredibly important for many reasons. First, it can help people achieve a much better work-life balance. Second, it may drive productivity up. Finally, it will make you more appealing as an employer and drastically boost your talent attraction rates.

Just remember that setting this up isn’t a small thing. First, you need to make a choice:

  • You can set up a deadlines-based system where you put people on performance pay.
  • You can monitor their work via employee monitoring software like HubStaff. 

Each of these two has its advantages and disadvantages.

Second, with a flexible working model, you’ll likely allow people to use their devices from home. This means you must introduce a BYOD policy to ensure a higher level of cybersecurity for your entire enterprise. 

You also need to ensure that you have a positive hybrid work culture. Believe it or not, even a hybrid workplace can become toxic if you’re not careful enough. While remoteness changes workplace dynamics, this change won’t always be for the better. It also won’t eliminate some of the worst aspects of the workplace. 

By giving people a choice to work in a remote or hybrid setting, you’re not forcing them into this business model. You’re just giving them more options. This is always positive and may even help increase their sense of ownership over the workplace. 

4. Put more emphasis on recognition and rewards

One of the first things you need to do to create a better work culture is to base your organization on the appreciation and recognition of your staff. Your organization is made of people putting their work and effort into reaching your goals and objectives. Your organization is not your vision, mission, or brand – it’s the people.

Your employees must know their work is appreciated to give it their best. So, you need to learn how to do this the right way. Generic praises are not efficient enough since people can easily read the intention (or the lack thereof). So, you might even want to consider getting an employee engagement platform. This way, you’ll always have all the insight you need to guide these conversations to their successful outcome.

Next, we need to discuss the rewards. Sure, your employees will love it if everything they do right could result in a pay raise. They would also prefer to get promoted at least twice per month. The problem is that this would be utterly unsustainable from the perspective of your finances and your organization’s structure.

Instead, you must learn how to give proper micro-rewards and create this promotion/pay-raise scheme so your staff never feels underappreciated.

You also want to think about the concepts of autonomy and trust. If you micro-manage everything and insist that your employees seek your confirmation for every decision, you’re not just slowing down your process but also ruining your relationship. Give them more autonomy!

5. Provide a platform for growth and development

Many managers see talent turnover as a negative thing and refuse to acknowledge it for what it really is – an inescapable rule of the business world. Your employees, even the best ones (especially the best ones), will probably, eventually leave. Even those you promote and reward. Even those you consider friends.

You can, however, affect:

  • How long they stay
  • How hard they try while they’re in your employ
  • How well they talk about you to their future coworkers

These three things are monumental, so you must ensure they’re happy in your employ.

Now, it’s only normal that people only look for themselves and your employees work for you for one of few things. They want a decent salary and great work experience to further their career.

You’ll be seen as an ideal employer if you allow them to grow. You need enough room for them to advance and a prospect for their advancement. 

You must also provide opportunities for lateral movement within your organization, a mentorship program, and many training opportunities. Generally speaking, even some of the best books about success and affluence, like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki, speak about experience and skills as more valuable than pay. Some of your most ambitious employees will feel the same. 

6. Introduce wellness programs and social activities

To show your employees that you care, you must go beyond activities that generate profit. Buying your employee a new laptop is a nice gesture, but it’s an activity that indirectly boosts their productivity, which you directly benefit from.

At the same time, by starting a wellness program or creating social activity opportunities, you’ll show that you care about more than just productivity. 

You can introduce daily exercise (or deskercise), introduce healthier options in your work cafeteria, or introduce a mandatory ten-minute meditation break.

This will result in stress relief, morale boost, increased creativity, and more.

You can also combine social activities with employee appreciation (which we’ve discussed earlier) by celebrating milestones

The only way for your staff to stay competitive in 2023 is in a balanced ad engaging work culture 

Your employees are the only ones who can decide how hard they’ll try and how long they’ll stay. With an engaging work culture, they’ll feel the intrinsic motivation to do more. A balanced workplace will protect them from burnout and make them feel more pleasant overall. In the end, everyone wins.  

By Srdjan Gombar

Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.

Burned out Managers Require Help to Recharge

Chances are managers in your organisation are feeling burned out. Middle managers have felt the squeeze of having to execute strategy from above while coaching and developing their teams below them — often without receiving the same type of development or empowerment from more senior managers. Often under-resourced, they frequently roll up their sleeves to do the work alongside their teams, particularly given higher rates of turnover in the last few years.

Research from McKinsey revealed that some middle managers spend up to two days a week on individual contributor work and a day a week on administrative tasks, in addition to their management responsibilities. Too much work, combined with too little time and resources adds up to scores of exhausted managers, who are almost twice as likely to leave their employer, according to research from Microsoft.

Burned out employees goes well beyond simply being tired or stressed — thus, recovering from it is not a quick fix. It takes time, intention, and organisational support to not only regain a sense of equilibrium, but to also feel energised, engaged, and motivated again.

To be sure, each person’s experience of being burned out will be different, so various approaches to address it will impact them differently. Likewise, there is no silver-bullet antidote. Employing a multi-pronged approach that includes the strategies below will help your managers in their burnout recovery journey.


There are two aspects to this strategy. First, recognising and showing concern that an individual is experiencing burnout can help them feel seen, understood, and even cared for. Acknowledging the burnout also puts it on the table so that it can be addressed.

The second aspect is to recognise the manager’s sustained efforts and positive contribution or impact on the business. In a study of more than 12,000 employees, Workhuman and Gallup showed a strong positive correlation between employee recognition and wellbeing, which also led to better business outcomes. Moreover, this recognition can show the individual they are making a difference, especially when their impact might not be as visible to them. This can help them to counter feelings of diminished efficacy, reduce their cynicism or mental distance from the job, and derive more meaning from their work.

“When we take time to recognise people, it not only has a positive impact on them but on ourselves as well,” shares employee appreciation and workplace culture expert Christopher Littlefield. “The act of noticing what is going well, celebrating progress, and sharing the impact of their work helps us generate meaning, hope, and a sense of belonging — all things known to promote wellbeing. This can be as simple as taking five minutes to write a meaningful thank you note, give a quick compliment, or even use reflective recognition.”


Creating opportunities for personal connection (both in-person and virtually) amongst managers as a group can counter feelings of isolation that are common with burnout, particularly for those working remotely. Creating a sense of community, where managers can share their challenges (and successes) with their peers not only facilitates support, but also reduces feelings of isolation that can come with burnout and creates a sense of being “in it together.”

Likewise, connecting one-on-one beyond the work at hand can also be powerful, and may be more meaningful to some. “Picking up the phone to check-in on a colleague can help remind someone that you are there for them,” shared Adam Smiley Poswolsky, a workplace belonging keynote speaker. “Reconnecting with a coworker you haven’t spoken to in a while can provide them with energy and inspiration – especially when they are struggling with stress or burnout.”

Poswolsky added: “A simple act of kindness — like remembering a coworker’s birthday, or buying a colleague their favourite coffee order, makes people feel like they belong. When we provide more time and space for human connection at work, we normalise talking about the full spectrum of human emotions, of which burnout is one of the most common. When we normalize talking about burnout or stress or loneliness, we help people feel less alone, which in turn can help them feel much better.”

Re-assess, Re-prioritise, and Re-distribute Work

When managers are burned out, it’s likely due in large part to an excessive, unrelenting volume of work, and as new priorities emerge, existing projects do not get de-prioritized. Everything has become important and stays on their plate, making the workload unsustainable.

Conduct an audit of what your managers are each working on and what’s consuming most of their time. Identify the top three areas that will make the biggest difference in achieving the organisation’s goals. Focus your managers’ effort on these and de-prioritise the rest. In doing so, determine what can be put on the back burner, what deadlines can be extended, or what can be cancelled altogether. Likewise, re-assess the level of detail or quality needed for certain work products or metrics for success.

As part of this re-evaluation, take time to understand each person’s workload and capacity and re-distribute work, as needed. Moreover, make this a regular practice to help your managers re-assess and manage priorities on an ongoing basis.

While you can’t create more hours in the day, you can make the case to adjust the scope of the work to be commensurate with the resources available (i.e., people, time, and budget) or advocate for more resources, such as budget to hire more people or engage outside contractors to share the workload, even if only temporary to manage a peak period.

Revise Team Agreements

Empower the managers on your team to help solve the problem of burnout by revising agreements about how you all work together. What boundaries can you and the managers on your team agree to respecting? This may include things like not sending evening or weekend emails or avoiding other micro-stresses. Looking for a better way forward together by creating new norms can help create a sense of agency that is often missing in cases of burnout.

As a team, you can decide things like how you will hold each other accountable to your respective commitments, give each other permission to push back or say no, and establish specific non-meeting days to do focused work. Making these types of agreements can reduce wasted time, energy, and frustration, as well as create a sense of empowerment and ownership for their experience going forward.

Regularly Check-In

Touch base one-on-one with your managers on a regular basis, particularly those who have exhibited signs of burnout. Check in to see how they are doing and how you can best support them. Ask them where they are stuck. Make it safe for them to speak up and tell you when they’re feeling overwhelmed so you can discuss how you can make their work less taxing by clearing obstacles or taking things off their plate, as appropriate.

Relax and Reset

While not sufficient alone to recover from burnout, taking a meaningful break from work to decompress is a necessary step to restore your managers’ energy level and help them reset, both mentally and physically. Set the expectation that they use all of their vacation time — it can be easy to put off or skip vacation when there’s so much to do. The reality is, there will always be more to do, so trying to wait until you feel caught up at work is like running a marathon with no finish line.

In addition, by making vacation mandatory, you can help counter any warrior mentality in your organisation’s culture that might be a contributing factor to burnout. This can be done in a staggered way amongst team members to avoid business interruption, or some organisations choose to shut down completely during selected weeks of the year.

Whichever approach you take, give your people permission to completely unplug while they’re away and role model this for your team. Research shows that working during time off (which, sadly, two-thirds of Americans do), reduces intrinsic motivation, which will already be at a low point if the individual is burned out to begin with.

The remedy for feeling burned out is not an instantaneous single solution, nor is it one-size fits all. Using the aforementioned strategies in combination over time will allow you to not only support and recharge your burned-out leaders, but also to keep burnout at bay going forward.


Take the first step towards transforming your remote work culture by requesting a free demo assessment from Great People Inside.

Our team of experts will guide you through the assessment process, showcasing the effectiveness and value of our tailored solutions for your organization.

During the demo, you will have the opportunity to explore the comprehensive features and functionalities of our psychometric assessments, experiencing firsthand how they can empower your HR strategies and drive positive outcomes. From personality assessments to cognitive abilities and team dynamics evaluations, our assessments provide valuable insights to enhance talent management and foster inclusive remote work environments.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to test the power of unbiased HR solutions. Request your free demo assessment from Great People Inside today and embark on a journey of fair and effective talent management in the remote work era.

Together, we can unlock the true potential of your remote teams and achieve remarkable success.Request a Free Demo Assessment.

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Can Hybrid Work Become Toxic?

Toxicity at work — no matter where or how we do our jobs — is caused by a range of factors. It is important to recognize that some aspects of hybrid and remote work make toxicity more likely to occur.

First, though, let’s quickly outline what “toxic” actually means. It doesn’t refer to the misunderstandings, tensions, and conflicts that are a natural (and needed) part of any healthy organization. Nor does it refer to a one-off incident or a coworker who is a jerk every now and again. These kinds of irritations, for the most part, are best thought of as normal parts of (working) life.

So, what actually is considered toxic? A study by Donald Sull and his colleagues identified five attributes of a toxic culture: disrespectful, noninclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive.

Toxicity carries a sense of inescapability, which is part of what makes it so painful to experience at work.

Undeniably negative as these attributes are, there is no absolute, uniformly accepted scale against which we can measure any of them — all five are subjective, anchored in each person’s experience. Making matters more complicated, a hybrid environment by definition means that employees are experiencing their work in very different contexts — some face-to-face, others remote — and those may vary by the day. As a result, hybrid workspaces aren’t uniform; some people may experience a hybrid environment as toxic while others do not. That does not make a toxic hybrid environment any less painful or damaging to those who experience it as such. However, it does mean that some behaviours may be toxic even as a result of well-meaning — or at least not ill-meaning — actions.

Remoteness changes dynamics

Working hybrid means that, compared with full-time in-office work, more communication will take place via technologies like email, text, phone, or video. One of the early findings in research on the effects of technology-mediated communication was that people become more disinhibited and exhibit less self-monitoring and self-control when communicating through technology. In other words, when we talk to one another electronically, we are more likely to blurt out things that might be hurtful. Think about heated exchanges you’ve had with colleagues both in person and electronically — chances are, you were much more tempted to try to slip in a sharp quip in an email than face-to-face.

This dynamic is not (necessarily) about being a nasty person. We all have moments of anger, frustration, or passion, and if handled badly, those feelings have the potential to turn toxic.

In face-to-face interactions, though, the human on the other side of the conversation is far more salient to us, leading most of us to recognize the potential costs of a less-careful word and bite our tongues. The point isn’t that we shouldn’t speak our minds (if we feel that we can’t, that’s bad for psychological safety), but that we should choose our words well. While the reduced self-monitoring and self-control that come with remote interactions do not necessarily cause toxicity, they certainly make it more likely for disrespectful or abusive (two of Sull’s toxicity characteristics) comments to come out.

Hybridity is fundamentally imbalanced

Hybrid also means different people are working in different contexts. Some may be at home, while others are in the office — and those locations have undeniable differences. People in the office have greater access to resources and higher visibility, often leading to more credit and quicker promotion as a result. Remote workers, meanwhile, often feel left out and shunned. Negative as these effects may be, they are not strictly toxic if everyone is equally disadvantaged at some point. The problem is when some people (likely remote/hybrid workers) feel consistently excluded — as was the experience of one manager I recently worked with.

Company policy was to allow all employees to work remotely two days a week, and the manager had allowed her team members to choose those days. She quickly discovered her team had effectively split on the basis of different (but consistent) patterns of which days people chose to come into the office. Compounding the issue, team members’ remote-work choices were heavily driven by commutes and children’s school schedules, which aligned them with demographic differences in the team. Problems arose when some team members felt they were being excluded from the discussions and meetings that occurred on the in-office days of the other group. The split led to interpersonal tensions and conflict, people feeling excluded and disrespected (two toxicity characteristics), and it ultimately resulted in turnover.

Hybridity can reduce cohesion and trust

Research shows that lack of close contact reduces connection and trust, which are key elements of a healthy culture. During the pandemic, I spoke to many employees who had started new jobs remotely, and I consistently heard that they hadn’t gotten to know their colleagues and felt disconnected. Research from Microsoft found remote working leads employees to have smaller, less-well-developed networks.

Remote (and by extension hybrid) working does not necessarily mean organizations will have a weak or inconsistent culture. Take Linux as an example. Its open-source software development from day one has been carried out by a loosely structured community of developers who have never met in person, yet extensive research on the group has found it has strong social norms governing behavior. However, it is hard to deny that the group’s structure (or lack thereof) removes or impedes many of the mechanisms we traditionally use to establish, transmit, and maintain culture. Note that Linux started with a remote, dispersed culture. While many companies have embraced remote and hybrid since the pandemic started, their cultures were already established and then adjusted to handle the crisis.

Culture is so important because it is the compass organizations use to eschew cutthroat and, in more extreme cases, unethical behavior. To be clear, hybridity does not inherently lead people to be more cutthroat or unethical (though one might argue the sense of distance between people makes them less aware of the negative ramifications of their actions). However, in every social system we find a range of behaviors, and culture typically helps us rein in the negative ones. On top of that, while people are less likely to exhibit toxic behaviors toward those they feel close and connected to, the distance that a remote/hybrid environment brings makes us more likely to view some of our colleagues not as “us” but as “them” — and it’s much easier to act poorly toward “them.”

Hybridity makes it hard to resolve issues

There’s one more key challenge in remote and hybrid work: We have fewer face-to-face interactions with colleagues, and research shows that it is harder to resolve disputes (like those around toxic behaviors) virtually. Think about trying to address a sensitive topic over Zoom with someone and worrying about everything from where they’re looking to how fast they reply. Are they giving me their full attention? Am I sure my sincerity is coming through over video? Was their slow response because they disagreed or are just lagging?

When we’re face-to-face, we have more interpersonal tools at our disposal. We have better data, as we can more easily read facial expressions and can see off-camera behaviors. We also have better tools, as face-to-face interactions allow us to synchronously work together to resolve differences. And the propinquity effect (essentially, we like people we have more exposure to) means all of this happens from a starting point of a closer relationship.

One other issue it’s important to mention is microaggressions, which some people have argued happen less often in remote settings because we’re around one another less. However, I would caution leaders and employees alike to stay vigilant for signs of microaggressions (often reflected in toxic behaviors like noninclusion) in hybrid settings. While these settings may have fewer touchpoints where microaggressions can occur, they do not remove the underpinnings of why microaggressions happen — nor do they prevent them from coming out in other outlets, such as Slack, messaging apps, or videoconferencing. In effect, hybrid work can obscure the problem without resolving it.

Educate employees

The first step toward avoiding toxic behavior in hybrid teams is to help people learn how it can arise. You may think, “Of course they know not to be disrespectful, abusive, or noninclusive,” but that’s not the issue. Sit down with your employees and have a conversation about how these outcomes can happen as unintended consequences of hybrid work arrangements and decisions. Remind them that toxicity is about behavior — and that what matters isn’t what your intention was but how others perceive your actions. A good starting point is to ask employees to reflect on hybrid work behaviors they may have experienced as toxic (for example, feeling routinely excluded from a social group or reading comments on Slack that they found abusive or disrespectful). The goal of this step is not to identify particular issues or point fingers but rather to increase employees’ self-awareness and the number of eyes out there looking for toxic behaviors or their antecedents.

Lay a foundation

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” One of the most effective tools you can put in place is a culture with built-in antibodies against toxic behaviors. In particular, focus on promoting empathy and psychological safety. A culture with a core of empathy encourages employees to consider the impact of their actions on their colleagues, increasing the likelihood that employees catch themselves before behaving in a way another might find troubling. In turn, a culture that includes psychological safety is critical for those cases that empathy doesn’t prevent. We don’t always recognize the impact of our actions, and building psychological safety ensures that employees can speak up about the behaviors they perceive as toxic. Research has provided excellent practical advice for promoting both empathy and psychological safety.

Have ongoing conversations

Because the experience of hybrid work is different among employees and dynamic over time (someone may be in the office today, surrounded by colleagues, and at home alone tomorrow), toxicity is a moving target. The only truly effective way to manage such dynamism is with an ongoing process — and the cornerstone is repeated, ongoing conversations. I encourage hybrid teams and organizations to have periodic check-ins where everyone is encouraged to raise concerns or flag toxic experiences. There is no hard-and-fast rule for frequency, as it depends on how dynamic the organization’s hybrid environment is: The more and faster it changes, the more frequent those conversations should be. As a starting point, aim for a monthly check-in and adjust as needed. Make sure the psychological safety foundation is in place if you want people to share honestly, and treat these conversations as more than a superficial box-ticking exercise.

Intervene quickly

Even with a good understanding of the issues, a positive cultural foundation in place, and ongoing discussions, hybrid working may still lead to behaviors that your employees find toxic. A big problem with toxic environments is that they tend to get worse: Toxic behaviors either feed on themselves, breeding more toxicity, or cause disgruntled employees to disengage, creating new tensions due to workloads needing to be redistributed. To break the cycle, you need to not only keep an eye out for toxic behaviors but also be ready to move fast when you see them, help all parties engage in a dialogue, and work to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

Let’s say you notice a situation like that of the manager whose team was split over their WFH days. In a case like that, call a team meeting and share your concerns of how the situation might feel exclusionary. It may turn out your concerns aren’t shared — but you’re still creating buy-in and ownership of the issue, making it easier to address later if it does become a problem. If, however, you’ve recognized a budding concern for some of your team members, you have a forum to discuss and collectively resolve it before it gets too far along.

Toxicity can be an unfortunate reality of some work environments. While hybrid work does not necessarily cause toxicity any more than in-person work does, it is important to recognize that hybrid introduces some different mechanisms through which toxicity may arise. Keeping these in mind can help leaders recognize, guard against, and eliminate toxicity when it occurs — or ideally before.


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