Re-Onboarding Your Return-to-Office Employees

At the beginning of the pandemic, employers quickly shifted almost every aspect of their business, including the onboarding of new employees, to take place remotely. Research from Glassdoor shows that organisations with strong onboarding practices improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%. Yet, according to Gallup, only 12% of employees feel that their organisation does a great job re-onboarding employees — and this is under “normal” circumstances.

Now, as organisations look at returning to the office in some capacity during the months ahead, there is an opportunity for re-onboarding employees who started remotely. Doing so will help create a continued positive employee experience and help further socialise them into the organisation’s culture, given that this group of employees will likely not have met their fellow team members in person, nor likely have ever been to the organisation’s physical offices.

In looking at the group of re-onboarding employees, you may also include employees who started a month or so before the sudden shift to work from home, as their full onboarding experience may have been cut short, as well as include internal hires into new roles or transfers to new offices. For brevity, I’ll call this combined group “remote hires.”

In addition to other onboarding best practices, here are six strategies for re-onboarding employees who started remotely:

Allow remote hires to bond as a cohort

This group shares a common, distinctive experience — starting a new job during what is, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. Laurie Tennant, VP of People at Norwest Venture Partners, shared that her firm has had about 20 people who started remotely, ranging in position from Executive Assistant to Partner, across all teams in the organisation. She said, “You have an emotional resonance with your start-group that just kind of lasts” and shared that she is planning to do something special for remote hires where they all meet live to help form an affinity group of people who started during this time. Judy Parkman, Director of Human Resources as The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation also plans to organise an additional in-person lunch for remote hires with the foundation president, which was previously held virtually.

During these events, consider creating structured opportunities for remote hires to interact and get to know each other, such as ice breakers or “speed networking” activities, especially when there are multiple levels of the organisation represented or power differentials than can create feelings of awkwardness for individuals, regardless of their position.

Be mindful

Make an extra effort to help these employees feel particularly welcome, as if it’s their first day at the office — because it is! Consider leaving something special at their desk, be it a personal note, company swag, or other small gift. This is a nice touch that will go a long way in making members of this group feel valued, cared for, and recognised for having started a new job during a uniquely challenging time. Also, be thoughtful in making sure remote hires’ desks are located in an area where they will be able to naturally interact with other colleagues.

facility tours

Being new to an office can feel awkward and intimidating when you don’t know your way around — sort of like joining a new gym and not knowing where specific equipment is located or how a new machine works (in this case, it might be trying to figure out where the espresso machine is and how it works or how to get a FedEx package sent). In orienting remote hires to the physical space, conduct these tours in small groups to provide additional opportunities for remote hires to meet and get to know others. Show them not only where the office pantry, break room, restrooms and fire exits are, but other things like security protocols, conference room sign up procedures, helpful short-cuts and specific potential hazards or things to avoid, such as getting locked in the stairwell.

Communication and regular check ins

Managers of remote hires may take for granted that since these employees have already been on the job for some period of time that they’re already part of the team and don’t need assistance. Remind these managers that it’s their job to help the re-onboarding process for remote hires to make sure they are adjusting well to the new environment and have everything they need. Encourage them to take their remote hires to lunch and conduct a one-on-one with them their first week in the office, as would have been the case if they had initially started their job at the office.

Make sure managers and someone from HR is constantly checking in with remote hires in the weeks that follow. In many organisations today there are employee experience managers also plans to check in regularly with remote hires, which account for about 10% of their total employees. In addition, they should also assess what re-onboarding experiences may need to be conducted once back in the office based on what they hear from this group during these check ins.

Create a solid buddy system

Creating a buddy system can increase employee productivity and satisfaction. Remote hires are not only working at a new company, but also will be working in a new situation once people go back to the office, which can make them feel insecure. Aim to pair remote hires with more tenured employees who are familiar not only with the physical office, but also the office culture, as this can be a key source of support for remote hires helping them to navigate new dynamics once they are back at the office, even if they only return onsite a few days a week.

Consider assigning them two buddies — one who is on their team who has a good understanding of the remote hire’s role and manager, and one who is not on their team to help broaden their internal network and provide useful context outside their department. Ensure that these buddies understand how important their role is in the remote hire’s experience coming into the office and in helping them to understand how “in office” culture might be different than virtual culture.

Create informal team-building opportunities

Creating opportunities for people to get to know each other better will help all employees to reconnect after being remote for over a year but will also help remote hires, in particular, to socialise and get to know both new and seasoned employees in a more relaxed and less intimidating environment. For example, Norwest Venture Partners are planning to do a summer picnic and a voluntary opening over the summer for anyone who would like to come back to the office before their official open date in September. This gives remote hires the option to get to know the office and other colleagues in a less hectic or intimidating environment. The firm also plans to hold open houses at their offices once they officially open to create more opportunities for employees to mingle and get to know each other. Of course, other activities can also be planned with your more immediate teams, such as team dinners or informal outdoor barbeque.

While going back to the office will be an adjustment for everyone, it will be an entirely new experience for remote hires. Don’t squander the opportunity to create a great employee experience and use the strategies for re-onboarding your remotely hired employees.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.hrdownloads.com/blog/article/back-to-the-future-at-work-re-onboarding-employees-december-2019
https://www.growthengineering.co.uk/8-top-tips-for-re-onboarding-returning-employees-using-your-lms/
https://hbr.org/2021/06/how-to-re-onboard-employees-who-started-remotely

Diversity and Inclusion Strategies & Implementation

Diversity and inclusion programmes help companies drive innovative results. Yet many industries still struggle with diversity and inclusion, often failing to attract diverse talent due to inclusivity issues in the workplace. For organisations looking to shape up their diversity and inclusion (D&I) programmes and policies, the change can be challenging, but also rewarding. Most companies enact change to deliver business value, and many who launch diversity and inclusion initiatives cite research showing that companies with more diverse teams outperform those with a more homogeneous workforce.

As 2018 research from McKinsey shows, greater diversity in the workforce results in greater profitability and value creation. The same holds true at the executive level, as McKinsey found a statistically significant correlation between diverse leadership and better financial performance. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. When it comes to gender diversity, companies in the top quartile are 21% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile, according to McKinsey’s research.

While financial performance is a major driver of diversion and inclusion strategies, some organisations launching diversity initiatives in the face of government compliance regulations or to address shareholder pressure. In the United Kingdom, for example, companies are required to publish their diversity statistics. Organisations are also realising that make diversity and inclusion a business imperative will help them avoid tarnishing their reputation.

During 2020 and so far in 2021, many companies, including McDonald’s, Microsoft, Boeing, and Best Buy, made pledges to improve diversity hiring practices and introduce diversity and inclusion (D&I) training. The hiring of D&I professionals in general increased, too; more than 60 U.S.companies appointed their first-ever chief diversity officer (CDO). However, much of this work has not yet taken root. In one recent survey, 93% of leaders agreed that the D&I agenda is a top priority, but only 34% believed that it’s a strength in their workplace. In another survey, 80% of HR professionals viewed companies as  “going through the motions.” In other words, they didn’t notice any significant positive impact from the organisations’ actions. Another survey revealed that while 78% of black professionals believe senior leaders’ D&I efforts are well-intentioned, 40% hear more talk than action and have not noticed material changes to policies or culture. Meanwhile, many CDOs leave their roles because of a lack of strategic, financial, and political support.

One-off D&I “initiatives” do not effectively address these long-standing disparities. Instead, leaders should infuse D&I throughout their organisations. Based on our experience and research, we have developed five strategies that can turn diversity and inclusion into an improved employee experience and a strategic advantage for the enterprise.

Change starts from the CEO positions

The CEO needs to take a public stance, embed D&I in the organization’s purpose, exemplify the culture, and take responsibility for progress toward goals. They need to be out front, even if a CDO is part of the team.

PwC’s U.S. chairman, Tim Ryan, has been an exemplar for at least five years. He co-founded CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion after police shootings in the summer of 2016 to spur business executives to collective action on D&I. The publication of PwC’s workforce diversity data in 2020 revealed that women and people of color are underrepresented, especially at senior levels, showing that even the most dedicated companies still have a lot of diversity and inclusion work to do.

Nielsen’s CEO, David Kenny, added the CDO title to his leadership portfolio in 2018 so he could “set hard targets for ourselves and make those transparent to our board and measure them like we measure other outcomes like financial results.” He relinquished that title to a new CDO in March 2020, noting the D&I progress his team had already made.

Diversity and Inclusion Should Be Key Part OF Business Strategy

D&I is far more than an “HR issue.” It should be a core ingredient in the design and execution of business strategy and embedded in the activities of the organisation day in, day out. Increasing the number of non-white individuals involved in the strategy process will help develop a core purpose that better reflects a broader group of customers and employees. It also gives the organisation more opportunities and places to succeed.

Alex Gorsky, chair and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, who has put diversity and inclusion at the center of his pursuit of sustainable competitive advantage, said, “The best innovations can only come if our people reflect the world’s full diversity of individuals, opinions, and approaches.” A diverse design group is more likely to create products and services that work for a diverse clientele, avoiding biased assumptions, generalizations, or shortcuts. When organizations test products and services on a diverse group of potential clients and employees, it’s easier to identify the variations necessary to enhance the adoption of the final offering. And, when a company has an enterprise-wide D&I strategy, leaders can use it to guide the selection of operating ecosystem partners that are aligned with its D&I intentions.

Every Voice Should be Welcomed, Heard and Respected

Most often employees quit jobs when they feel that their authentic self and uniqueness is not appreciated or valued. As such, it is vital to create an environment where they feel a sense of connectedness to the company and its people. Employees need to feel free to express themselves based on their unique perspectives. 

When it comes to supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, don’t play favorites, practice basic courtesy, and pay special attention to how you can embrace non-discriminatory practices and policies. Employees feel included when they feel “safe” to voice their concerns and opinions without fear of victimization. The freedom of expression without fear also empowers companies to not just listen to but also actively embrace diverse viewpoints.

One great way to do this is to invest in a workforce communications platform. By integrating all your communications channel into one platform, you will reach each worker on their preferred channel. You will truly help your workforce feel connected and included in larger company initiatives and goals. Also, you will gain insights from unified analytics to understand how best to meet their needs and help them thrive. And you’ll provide a personalized employee experience that is inclusive and allows all voices to be heard.

Multigenerational Workforce

Today, millennials make up the vast majority of the workforce. Having a workforce that recognizes and accommodates multiple generations is essential in building a diverse and inclusive workforce. And while millennials are generally known for being tech savvy, bear in mind this generation encompasses ages 22 to 38. The older millennials might not have the same proficiency with tech tools as their younger counterparts. You can really see this at work in communications practices. Sometimes certain employees are more comfortable using social channels, for example, or group chat functions. On the other hand, employees of older generations might not embrace such communications channels so readily.

Again, communications professionals can invest in a workforce communications platform to easily and efficiently create and send messages via channels that employees prefer; this will help communicators craft messages that will appeal to all generations, and encourage engagement. There’s widespread agreement on the need to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace. But it’s not easy to deliver on the promises made. It’s time to adopt a more systematic, coherent approach. By following these strategies, leaders can make more progress and create a more representative, fair, and high-performing workforce.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.cio.com/article/3262704/diversity-and-inclusion-8-best-practices-for-changing-your-culture.html
https://socialchorus.com/blog/15-ways-to-improve-diversity-and-inclusion-in-the-workplace/
https://www.greatplacetowork.com/resources/blog/why-is-diversity-inclusion-in-the-workplace-important

Pandemic-Induced Changes in Work Practices

As vaccines are being administered, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s lives and the business environment will gradually lessen over time. This is a welcomed change, but organisations must resist the urge of a complete reversion to their pre-pandemic practices.

Given the fact that the crisis imposed severe restrictions, it also provided us with a unique opportunity to try thousands of alternatives and innovate with new practices, some of which are beneficial in any period. In addition, the crisis lowered the resistance to change and thus helped healthy organisations get rid of deeply entrenched, dysfunctional practices that would be difficult to shed in normal times.

Many organisations were forced to do things that would have been considered inconceivable not so long ago. In addition to many companies’ successful digital transformations and widespread remote work, courts started delivering justice online, healthcare providers shifted to telemedicine for many minor illnesses, banks paid out loans without meeting clients in person, and auditors conducted virtual company audits without visiting company premises.

But what will happen to these practices once the pandemic is over?

1. New practices should be sustained

In the early days of the pandemic, circumstances forced companies to react and experiment in swift and pragmatic ways. Most companies followed one unequivocal dictum: Keep pace and survive. Now it’s time to make space to reflect.

As a first step, companies should identify which new practices were successful, why they were successful, and under which circumstances they’re expected to continue to succeed. New practices are more likely to be retained and sustained if managers and employees consciously identify and recognize them, then establish them. Survey employees to understand what they did differently during the crisis and then conduct follow-up discussions about what succeeded for them and what didn’t. Distill the efforts that were successful into common organizational procedures, translating them into documentation and communicating new expected practices to employees.

2. Reduce any connection to old practices

We’re notorious creatures of habit. Given two choices, we’ll almost certainly opt for the more familiar one. Old habits and their signals are not only ingrained in our brains, but they’re also embedded in our surrounding environment. Language, spatial arrangements, rules, and work systems are preservers of knowledge in organizations that can trigger relapse. Manipulating or removing those symbols facilitates sustained change.

Organisations should be encouraged to unlearn dysfunctional practices by reducing influences of old knowledge structures that can hinder the adoption of new ones. This requires three easy steps:

  1. Question and reconsider the explicit and implicit criteria by which employees are evaluated — for example, whether they come to the office regularly and on time.
  2. Scrutinise and eliminate activities that were considered a norm previously but are no longer required — for example, daily in-person morning meetings held in a conference room at the office.
  3. Identify and change triggers that make people retrieve old norms — for example, if you had a tradition of having a group pizza lunch on Friday, host it in a video conference­-enabled room so that people working from home can join.

3. Openly discuss and explain the new procedures

Even after changes have been implemented, employees continue to carry deeply embedded assumptions about routines and practices before Covid-19. As long as these old assumptions are ingrained in individuals’ memory and there are disagreements about them going forward, the risk of failure remains high.

For example, one company initiated a dialogue among employees about the work-from-home mandate that was implemented during the pandemic. Now that conditions are becoming conducive to a return to offices, the company is discussing a permanent remote work policy.

In our analysis, we identified three distinct groups of employees based on their perceptions of the original change. One group was enthusiastic about it and demanded that it be sustained. Another group was comfortable with the change given the extraordinary circumstances but believed that it should be reversed once the pandemic is over. The third group never wanted the change and couldn’t wait for a reversion to the old practice. Although the shift to remote work was initially implemented on an organisation-wide basis, management didn’t know about the differences in people’s hidden perceptions about them. Unearthing these ideas and their different assumptions helped the organisation reflect on, transparently discuss, and set uniform expectations for each other, which allowed them to create more nuanced work-from-home policies that balanced the needs of all three groups.

Letting different viewpoints clash after change has been implemented does more harm than good. In order to make change sustainable, everyone must have a similar, if not the same, understanding of the reason, merits, and punishment and rewards associated with new procedures. For example, if physical, in-office meetings shouldn’t be held on days employees are allowed to work from home, make that clear. If an in-person meeting on one of those days is unavoidable, make sure employees understand that they won’t be penalised for participating virtually. Bringing varying opinions and perceptions to the surface, openly discussing divergent assumptions, and settling them will help align those expectations.

4. New practices should become habits

New practices can be sustained only if they’re turned into habits. In the final step of our framework, organisations must make sure that good practices are cemented into the organisational setting. The tendency to fall back into established routines is always one step away. It’s important, therefore, to go beyond initial rollouts and information sessions to regularly reinforce the new practices. This involves reminding people what the new procedures are until they don’t feel new anymore. It’s almost like reminding drivers about new speed bumps and lane changes for a period of time until they get used the new quirks. Instead of hoping that employees will automatically internalise changes as new routines, organisations must repeatedly communicate their benefits while providing incentives for their adoption and potential disincentives for their non-adoption. After several trials, new routines will become the familiar ones, and change will be sustained.

In places where pandemic restrictions are easing, companies must embrace this unique opportunity to retain the beneficial practices they adopted during the crisis. To do so effectively, leaders must be thoughtful about identifying which have been successful and deliberate in ensuring that the changes stick.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.businessreport.com/business/resist-old-routines-when-returning-to-the-office
https://v-teamwork.com/change-in-the-workplace/
https://www.liquidplanner.com/blog/why-is-organizational-change-so-hard/

How Is Work Going to Look Like in 2021?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how we work and how we feel about re-entering the workplace, as numbers go down and lockdowns are eased. Remote working may have been an adjustment for most at first, it slowly became a preference to employees worldwide. According to Cisco’s Workforce of the Future survey, conducted with 10,000 respondents across 12 markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Russia, employees want to keep a hold of the many positives that have emerged from this new normal.

Many of the changes that have come from the pandemic will become a permanent part of employee experiences in 2021. This is due to the fact that in 2020, several factors upended the traditional approach to life at the workplace. As the economy prepares to re-open, the new normal of work, business travel, and office space will be refined and rediscovered across almost every industry worldwide.

Youth as the focal point

Although there are currently five generations in the workforce, including traditionalists, baby boomers, and generation X, the youth is taking over. – Millennials and Generation Z are becoming the largest generational cohort in the labour force. As such, they have different needs and values than older workers.

Hiring managers will have to understand these hires and customize the workplace and tasks to keep them engaged and productive. These young employees are digital natives, and they require continuous mental stimulation, flexibility, and work-life balance. To nurture their growth and encourage efficiency, recruiters can allow flexible working schedules, learning platforms, and accommodate collaborative tools.

The demand for flexible working conditions

According to research conducted by Slack, 72% of employees said they wanted a hybrid remote-office model. Instead of fully implementing a work-from-home environment, many companies are utilising a hybrid approach where employees will only come into the office for a couple of days in the week and spend the remaining days working remotely.

Microsoft’s hybrid workplace environment will allow most roles to remain remote less than half of the time with manager approval, while 62% of Google employees want to return to their offices but not every day.

Digital advancement

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadell, described the impact of Covid-19 on the adoption and advancement of technology at work, saying “we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months”.

The findings from two separate studies by McKinsey and KPMG indicate that at least 80% of leaders accelerated the implementation of technology in the workplace due to COVID-19. White larger skill gaps, more training is required for employees to support the digital transformation needs that come with rapid change.

Many of these technologies are contact-tracing, collaborative tools, AI-driven software, and more, all of which have been widely adopted to support the mental health of employees, increase productivity and allow for flexibility and safety.

Levi Strauss’ digital transformation was facilitated by the use of AI and data, launching a virtual concierge service, appointment scheduling, and a brand-new loyalty programme.

Automation to support employees and not replace

Forrester claims that the fears over automation eliminating jobs is misplaced and that automation in 2021 will focus more on supporting current employees.

For example, grocery store robots will promote social distancing by doing inventory checks for employees to prevent too many people on the floor, and Forrester expects a tripling of robots of that sort in 2021. “By the end of 2021, one in four information workers will be supported in their daily work by software bots, robotic process automation, or AI, taking rote, repetitive tasks off their plates and yielding higher EX,” the market research company predicts. “Rather than focusing on substitution, focus more of your automation efforts on helping your staff be more effective.”

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.predictivesuccess.com/blog/10-trends-that-will-shape-the-world-of-hr/
https://hbr.org/2021/01/9-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2021-and-beyond
https://www.swooptalent.com/talent-insights-blog/10-hr-trends-that-will-shape-2021

Does Productivity Soar by Working from Home?

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, working from home has become the norm for many. But even as remote work has normalised, it’s a recent development: doing your job from your couch was less mainstream before the coronavirus – and even stigmatised.

“Have you punched into Google image search, ‘working from home’, and looked at the top 20 images? They’re basically naked people, a guy drinking champagne in what looks like a jacuzzi. I mean, almost none of them are positive images,” says Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University in California. He’s made a career out of studying work practices, including remote work. And he thinks the attitudes around working from home are finally changing.

“One silver lining with the Covid pandemic: it’s going to kickstart working from home [moving from the] fringe to a mainstream technology that is commonly used across the country,” he says. That process is already under way; firms including Fujitsu and Twitter have already announced plans to make remote work a permanent option, even after the pandemic.

A study done by Nicholas Bloom, professor at Stanford University, back in 2013 somewhat forecast this trend: in his experiment, Bloom worked with a Chinese company to study remote-work productivity. Somewhat to Bloom’s surprise, the company’s staff became notably more productive by working from home four days a week.

Now, six months into the global pandemic, an increasing number of companies are asking: should we work from home indefinitely? And if they do decide to make major organisational changes about remote work, could they see similar leaps in productivity?

How Do Knowledge Workers Spend Their Time?

In 2013, knowledge workers spent two-thirds of their time either “managing across” in meetings, often with many colleagues, or doing “desk-based work” on their own. Externally focused work (e.g. talking to customers), managing down (coaching and supporting subordinates) and managing up (interacting with the boss and other senior people) all got very little time, while training and personal development got almost none.

How has this picture changed during lockdown? There were two significant shifts: 12% less time managing across through meetings and 9% more time doing externally focused work. Desk-based work continues to take a third of our time. Other changes — a little less time managing up and a little more time on training and development — were not statistically significant.

Standing back, the evidence suggests lockdown has helped us more effectively prioritize our work. We still need to get through our emails and report-writing. But we are significantly less likely to get drawn into large meetings, and this leaves us more time for client or customer work and for training and development, which most people would argue is a good thing. However, lockdown doesn’t seem to have helped with hierarchy-spanning activities (managing up and down), presumably because it’s impossible to have the short, spontaneous meetings that used to be possible.

How Do Knowledge Workers Decide What to Do? 

While most knowledge workers have a written job description somewhere, it is well understood that they take responsibility for choosing what to do and when to do it based on a variety of factors, including tasks outside of their formal role when it appears sensible to do so.

To get a sense for how these decisions are made, we asked study subjects to choose among four options for every activity: It’s a standard part of my job/my boss asked, a peer or colleagues asked me, I did it spontaneously, or it was important and I found time. In 2013, respondents said 52% of their activities were standard, 18% requested by a peer , 24% independent but important, and 3% independent and spontaneous. In 2020, we are still spending half our time on standard activities, but we are doing only 8% because a colleague asked, and a full 35% because we thought the activity was critical.  Both these differences were statistically significant. Spontaneity rose to 6% but this difference was not statistically significant.

What’s going on here?  It seems we have been taking more direct charge of our time during lockdown. Working from home gives us a bit of breathing space: We don’t have colleagues or bosses badgering us, and we don’t get drawn into meetings by force of habit, just because we happen to be around. The result is a reassuring increase in us making time for work that matters most to us.

Concerns and Challenges

Working in lockdown has helped us to focus and to take responsibility. But that’s not the whole story. Follow-up interviews revealed some of the areas of concern that we as individuals — and as leaders of others — need to understand.

Some respondents cited the potential for shirking: “I am worried there is some slackening of effort. People are starting to get a bit too comfortable working from home,” said one. In our view, this is not a huge problem: There are many ways of informally monitoring how much time your colleagues are putting in via Outlook, Slack and other tools, and we should really be evaluating knowledge workers on their outputs not their inputs anyway.

The bigger areas of concern were around the things people couldn’t do well in a virtual environment. Take managing across first: It’s not so hard for an existing working group to stay on course when working remotely, but the challenges of getting started on something new (the forming/storming stages of team development) or resolving internal conflicts are enormous. Of course, these activities can be done over Zoom – just not as well. Few people are energized by informal online get-togethers. As one person said, “We are slowly losing the social glue that holds us together.”

Managing up and down are no less tricky under lockdown. Most respondents had instituted regular one-on-one catch-ups with their teams and bosses, but they usually focused on immediate task and personal well-being issues, rather than longer-term development. They missed the opportunity to bottom out difficult issues: “You cannot challenge a person quite so well over Zoom. You tend to hold back,” said one. They also lamented the loss of growth opportunities for their teams: “I used to throw people into new assignments, where they learned on the job, watching and learning from experienced colleagues. That’s almost impossible to do in a virtual setting.”

Finally, some people worried about their own development. While time spent on self-education went up during lockdown, this was mostly due to online webinar and course attendance — which helps build knowledge but doesn’t encourage the active experimentation and personal reflection that help us really grow.

For many of us, the new socially distanced mode of working may continue for some time.  The good news for knowledge workers from the first phase of this experiment is that lockdown has helped us better manage and prioritize our schedules to favor the most value-added work. The challenge — as we move into the next phase where some face-to-face meetings are allowed — will be to bring back the informal and social elements of office life that are so vital to organizational and individual success.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200710-the-remote-work-experiment-that-made-staff-more-productive
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/study-working-from-home-means-more-time-on-computers-but-workers-arent-more-productive/
https://hbr.org/2020/08/research-knowledge-workers-are-more-productive-from-home?ab=hero-main-text

Rethinking the Work Schedule

The coronavirus has changed the workplace in ways that will permanently transform the future of most organisations. Many leaders have been forced to craft new and improved strategies for successfully running an office remotely, building environments that help — not hurt – our immune systems, and developing guidelines to enforce safety measures like social distancing. Perhaps the most common change designed to address all of these areas is rethinking the employee work schedule, whether it is to support changes in work-life balance, to minimise social contact, or to meet wavering business demands. The traditional nine-to-five workday is no longer the gold standard.

Responsibility for gathering relevant information, identifying alternative schedule options, and implementing the new schedule is often given to the Human Resources (HR) manager. Since information on the subject is surprisingly scarce, this responsibility can be quite a challenge. It’s not something you do every day. Few people have the expertise to design a schedule for a group that works more than five days a week or more than one shift a day. Once you realize that schedule design is not the only step in changing schedules, nor the most difficult, you easily can be overwhelmed.

Despite the difficulty, this is a great opportunity for HR managers to orchestrate a significant change in the organisation. As an HR manager, you are uniquely qualified to do this. You tend to have a broader perspective than line functions such as production or maintenance. You have more experience in communicating with employees. Your on-going role as a company steward has trained you to protect organizational interests while addressing employee concerns.

Organisations change the work schedules of their non-exempt employees for a variety of reasons:

  • Change the hours/days of operation to match the demand for their products or services.
  • Fix problems such as high absenteeism, hiring/retention issues, or excessive overtime.
  • Improve efficiency (e.g., lean manufacturing) or lower the operating costs.
  • Respond to employee requests for change or complaints about the current schedule.

The Process of Change

In today’s tight labour market, organisations simply can’t afford to lose employees. Changing work schedules is an easy way to alienate the workforce and increase turnover. To ensure widespread support for the change, you need to have a plan for involving the key stakeholders and keeping them informed throughout the entire change process.

That sounds simple enough, but it’s actually the most difficult part of changing schedules. People are resistant to any kind of change. When it comes to work schedules, even a minor change can make a significant difference in employees’ lives. For example, changing the time that the work starts by 15 minutes may seem trivial, but it can have serious repercussions for people who commute in a carpool or use public transportation, parents with day-care requirements, and individuals with hundreds of other personal commitments built around their work schedules.

Availability of Resources

How many employees are needed to satisfy the coverage requirements? How many hours will they have to work each week? In addition to the base coverage, you need to consider absences such as vacations, illness, training, etc. Additional staff and / or overtime may be needed to cover these situations. Even though you think you have sufficient personnel, if a number of employees want to take a vacation at the same time, this could leave you short-handed. If someone takes a leave of absence due to health problems, pregnancy, or family care, you may not be able to replace them. The use of temporary employees may help, assuming you can find someone with the necessary skills.

Schedule Conflicts

Schedule constraints include legal considerations (e.g., state laws requiring overtime to be paid after 8 hours of work) and union agreements (e.g., limits on the number of consecutive days worked). There are also company policies to consider. For example, your company may require that all employees rotate so they spend an equal amount of time on every shift.

These are referred to as “constraints” because they limit the number of possible schedules. If you need an 8-hour fixed shift schedule with a maximum of 5 days worked in a row, you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a schedule that gives you a lot of weekends off or long breaks. Without the constraint on the number of consecutive days worked, you would have a lot more options to choose from. Without the fixed shift constraint, you would also have more choices. If there are too many constraints, it may be necessary to add more workers, increase overtime, or sacrifice some coverage.

Changing employee work schedules is not a simple task. There is a lot more involved than simply finding a work pattern that matches the new hours of operation or accommodates a preferred shift length. The six major considerations are the change process, coverage requirements, available resources, schedule constraints, employee preferences, and company policies. Skipping any one of these can result in implementation delays, unhappy employees, damage to your relationship with workers, poor business results, and higher costs. However, with proper planning, preparation, and communication, it is possible to produce a win-win result for employees and the organisation.

Changing your organisation’s work schedules may be one of the most important tasks you undertake in your career. Not only is the schedule vital to the performance of your company, but it is also an integral part of your employees’ lives. The time and effort you invest will increase the chances of achieving a positive outcome for everyone affected by the new schedule.

This pandemic has revealed that some jobs, such as healthcare, are truly essential, and employees in that sector have to work difficult hours. At the same time, the post-pandemic period may be a time for organizations and society to reconsider the definition of essential. For instance, moving forward, is it really necessary for workers to be available at all hours, year-round, to provide nonessential services at retail and fast food places?

The key will be finding a balance between short-term business needs and the long-term benefits that new scheduling strategies bring to both employees and the organisation.

To summarise, rather than being mechanistic, organisations can take a more organic approach and allow employees to play a bigger role in determining when they want to work. We have already seen considerable discussion lately about where (e.g., from home) and how (e.g., using video conferencing technology) people will work in a post-pandemic world, but additional thought should also be given to when everyone works. Managers are encouraged to thoughtfully consider the schedules that are right for them as they return to their places of work.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2020/07/rethinking-work-schedules-consider-these-4-questions
https://shift-work.com/about/changing-schedules/
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/rethinking-the-work-life-equation.html

Knowledge Workers in the Ever-Shifting Gig Economy

The term “gig economy” was coined by former ‘New Yorker’ editor Tina Brown back in 2009. It was used to describe how workers in the knowledge economy were increasingly pursuing “free-floating projects, consultancies, and part-time bits and pieces while they transacted in a digital marketplace.”

The wisdom of the time was that the gig economy would completely change white-collar jobs and call into question the very existence of professional service firms: Why would anyone hire a data analytics firm for a project when you could have unrestricted access to a bunch of experts, connected by a digital platform from all around the globe, who could work together for your company? Given the freshness of the idea, it certainly looked like things were headed that way: the Netflix million-dollar challenge back in 2009 for creating and developing the best recommendation algorithm was won by a team that didn’t belong to a company — or even geography.

In the 1960s, Jack Nilles, a physicist who turned into an engineer, built a long-range communications system at the U.S. Air Force’s Aerial Reconnaissance Laboratory. Later on in his career, at NASA, he helped design space probes that could send messages back to Earth. In the early 1970s, as the director for interdisciplinary research at the University of Southern California, he became fascinated by a more terrestrial problem: traffic congestion. Unrestricted growth in urban areas and cheap gas were creating incredible traffic jams; more and more people were commuting into the same city centres. In October 1973, the OPEC oil embargo began, and gas prices quadrupled. America’s car-based work culture seemed suddenly unsustainable.

That year, Nilles published a book, “The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff,” in which he and his co-authors argued that the congestion problem was actually a communications problem. The PC hadn’t been invented yet, and there was no easy way to relocate work into the home. But Nilles imagined a system that could ease the traffic crisis: if companies built small satellite offices in city peripheries, then employees could commute to many different, closer locations, perhaps on foot or by bicycle. A system of human messengers and mainframe computers could keep these distributed operations synchronised, replicating the communication that goes on within a single, shared office building. Nilles coined the term “telework” to describe this possible arrangement.

However, nowadays remote work is the exception rather than the norm. Flexible work arrangements tend to be seen as a perk; a 2018 survey found that only around three per cent of American employees worked from home more than half of the time. And yet the technological infrastructure designed for telecommuting hasn’t gone away. It’s what enables employees to answer e-mails on the subway or draft pre-dawn memos in their kitchens. Jack Nilles dreamed of remote work replacing office work, but the plan backfired: using advanced telecommunications technologies, we now work from home while also commuting. We work everywhere.

As spring gives way to summer, and we enter the uncertain second phase of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear when, or whether, knowledge workers will return to their offices. Citigroup recently told its employees to expect a slow transition out of lockdown, with many employees staying out of the office until next year. Jack Dorsey, the C.E.O. of Twitter, went even further, announcing in an e-mail that those whose jobs didn’t require a physical presence would be allowed to work from home indefinitely. In a press statement, Twitter’s head of H.R. said that the company would “never probably be the same,” adding, “I do think we won’t go back.”

According to Peter Miscovich, Managing Director, Strategy + Innovation, JLL Consulting in New York, by 2020 gig workers will comprise half the workforce, and as much as 80% by 2030. In the very near future, says Miscovich, enterprise “Liquid Workforce” platforms will be based upon the emerging “Hollywood Model” of working where agile and “liquid” knowledge workers will be intelligently organized via the Internet on a project basis much like Hollywood movies are made today. The future Liquid Workforce will be organized via crowdsourced “uber-like” cloud-based work platforms providing greater workforce and workplace efficiency.

At some point, the pandemic and its aftershocks will fade. It will once again be safe to ride commuter trains to office buildings. What then? Many companies seem amenable to the idea of lasting changes. In April, a survey of chief financial officers conducted by the research firm Gartner found that three-quarters planned to increase the number of employees working remotely on a permanent basis. From an economic perspective, companies have a lot to gain from remote work: office space is expensive, and talent is likely to be cheaper outside of the biggest cities. Many workers will welcome these changes: in a recent Gallup poll, nearly sixty per cent of respondents said that they would like to keep working remotely after restrictions on businesses and schools have been lifted. For them, the long-promised benefits of work-from-home—a flexible, commute-free life, with more family and leisure time—have finally arrived.

And yet remote work is complex, and is no cure-all. Some of the issues that have plagued it for decades are unlikely to be resolved, no matter how many innovations we introduce: there’s probably no way for workplaces to Zoom themselves to the same levels of closeness and cohesion generated in a shared office; mentorship, decision-making, and leadership may simply be harder from a distance. There is also something dystopian about a future in which white-collar workers luxuriate in isolation while everyone else commutes to the crowded places. For others, meanwhile, isolation is the opposite of luxury. There may be many people who will always prefer to work from work.

But Brown turned out to be only half right. There has been tremendous growth in the gig economy, but most of it can be attributed to unskilled work such as driving (Lyft and Uber), delivering (food, parcels, etc. through DoorDash, Postmates), and doing simple errands (TaskRabbit). A vibrant gig economy for knowledge workers — engineers, consultants, management executives — has not really materialised.

Culture

Gig workers in the knowledge economy will have to work with and for firms that have pronounced values, incentives, practices, and preferences. But they do not assimilate easily into these organizations (unless they join them) as they often work at arms-length with them and are seen by people in the organizations as outsiders — or even threats —impeding effective cooperation and creating the potential for conflict. In this context, gig workers often struggle to understand, let alone accept, the larger organizational processes, people, and politics of many of the people they have to work with. Performance assessment may also be problematic, especially if the gig worker is hired by a firm to do a job that the traditional metrics of most organizations still cannot properly capture.

When you start listing these problems, it becomes less of a mystery why the firms still prefer to hire knowledge workers as full-time employees or other firms with knowledge workers rather than contract directly with gig workers, despite the ability of tech to reduce many of the more obvious costs.

This may, at last, be about to change. But not from the advent of any new technology — it’s from the global pandemic that is forcing the global economy to its knees. The organizational factors that act as barriers for knowledge-based gig work are the same ones that in the past have inhibited remote work by full-time employees. If these issues can be resolved, whether a remote worker is full-time or gig-based is simply a matter of contractual documentation. Clearly, the experience of working during the pandemic provides useful insights on how to successfully contract knowledge work to external contractors. But we need to approach these lessons carefully.

Tasks Are Vital

Knowledge work is not uniform and, to the extent that you can even talk this way, a given “unit” of knowledge work is itself highly complex. A university, for example, educates students for degrees. A unit, therefore, could be the degree that a student comes out with. But a lot of very different tasks go into creating that unit. So what does “gigification” mean in this context?

Universities could certainly consider using gig workers for graders, teaching assistants, or for pre-recorded online lectures. But it is unlikely that the majority of milestone classes (face-to-face or virtual) that need to be delivered live at specific moments will be delivered by gig workers. Since any degree will inevitably involve both kinds of classes, university teaching will always be hybrid between the two, at least at the course level, possibly even at the class level.

The lesson is that all knowledge-based work can be unpacked into a set of different tasks. To figure out the future of the gig economy for knowledge workers, therefore, we need to analyse things at the task level rather than at the work level. We have found the simple process chart shown below to be extremely useful in figuring out which kinds of tasks are amenable to gigification.  It involves asking these three basic questions about each knowledge-intensive task involved in delivering a product or service.

The Covid-19 epidemic could well prove to be a pivotal point in the gigification of knowledge work, and many firms will be attracted by the prospects of the direct and indirect cost savings that the gig economy model seems to offer.  But given the complexities of knowledge work there’s also a risk of overreach and wasted investment.  The simple task-based categorization we propose will help managers make smarter choices about how just what tasks should be contracted to gig workers.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://serraview.com/gig-economy-impacting-corporate-workplace/
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/can-remote-work-be-fixed
https://hbr.org/2020/06/will-the-pandemic-push-knowledge-work-into-the-gig-economy

Leaveism or Why Do People Work while on Holidays?

The term has been coined by Dr Ian Hesketh in 2013 to describe the annual leave habits of employees. ‘Leaveism’ refers to workers taking annual leave to catch up on their workload or working outside of their office hours.

In a research done by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), it has been discovered that 63% of UK leaders reported that ‘leaveism’ had occurred in their business. As businesses become increasingly lean, the now here to stay ‘always-on’ culture ‘allows’ itself to late night emails and employees never really have the chance of switching off from work.

While offices can be a breeding ground for distraction and interruptions, ‘leaveism’ can be conducive to employees feeling increasingly pressured or obligated to work out of hours.

In a recent article published by the BBC’s Worklife discusses the hidden tactic of ‘leaveism’ and how being “away from the distractions of the inbox, watercooler chat with colleagues and the stresses of office life” is fuelling its fat increasing rise.

‘Leaveism’ is an increasing problem for all types of organisations, and it’s an issue that employers should take seriously. If left unmanaged, leaveism could bring down workplace morale and increase stress levels among your staff, which in-turn affects productivity.

Clearly for organisations, the cost of employees being anything other than fully productive can have an enormous impact on operational effectiveness. In the UK, average day’s sickness in the private sector are around 5.8 days per year compared with 7.9 days per year in the public sector. The overall cost of working age ill health in the UK exceeds £100 billion every year, employers pay an estimated £9 billion in sick pay and associated costs, and the state pays £13 billion in health-related benefits (incapacity benefits). There is a similar picture in the USA, with health-related productivity losses estimated to reach some $260 billion annually. These financial outcomes, in terms of absence costs and lost productivity, are often what eventually attracts the attention of senior managers, providing a persuasive argument for them to focus on improving aspects of working life that are proven to be detrimental to an employee’s well-being.

Absenteeism, presenteeism and a concept labelled here as ‘leaveism’ are used to provide a lens through which to view employee responses to feeling unwell or being overloaded. So what exactly is ‘leaveism’?

  • Employees utilising allocated time off such as annual leave entitlements, flexible hours banked, unused rest days in order to take time off when they are in fact unwell;
  • Employees taking work home that cannot be completed in normal working hours;
  • Employees working while on leave or holiday to catch up.

All of these behaviours sit outside current descriptions associated with ‘absenteeism’ and ‘presenteeism’.

Although absenteeism and presenteeism cover some of the human responses to workload and illness, ‘leaveism’ provides the missing link. It defines the previously uncharted phenomenon that describes a situation where an employee uses their own time, in whatever guise, to avoid the workplace when they are in fact unwell, or take work home in order to complete outside contacted hours due to the sheer volume asked of them. These unintended consequences may be brought about by organisations adopting counterproductive policies that were introduced with the [best] intention of reducing absence. Attendance at work policies, actionable attendance policies and the wider use of punitive and incentive-based HRM policies are all examples of schemes intended to reduce absence.

Together with increasing workloads, fewer staff and higher expectations, ‘leaveism’ presents an additional consideration for traditional employee monitors that cannot be overlooked. ‘Leaveism’ also adds a further dynamic to human behaviours associated with responses to workplace well-being, and ought to be included in future discussions associated with workforce satisfaction and productivity measures.

It may be a counter-intuitive proposition, but organizations may wish to consider the economic loss should this practice cease as a means of measurement. Whatever the consequences and subsequent approach, ‘leaveism’ presents a real issue when it comes to establishing the true picture of employee well-being and should not be ignored.

Never not Ready for Action

We are in an era where people are much more afraid of losing their jobs than in the past: companies have been operating in a low-growth environment for the past decade, which has meant more focus on profitability – including labour costs. Alongside this is the prospect of more and more jobs being automated in the coming years.

This has meant more employees having to live with excessive workloads, and bosses afraid for their own livelihoods who are micromanaging people and not giving them enough autonomy and control at work. A study of Austrian workers in 2015 concluded that employees were more likely to use annual leave to go off sick if they fear losing their jobs or having them downgraded, or if they were experiencing low job satisfaction.

Compounding this sense of unhappiness at work is likely to be the way that technology is changing how we do our jobs. In a survey of 1,000 HR professionals representing 4.6 million UK employees, 87% said that technology was affecting people’s ability to switch off out of working hours. Common examples were employees taking work-related phone calls or responding to work emails.

At first glance, these behaviours may look fairly innocuous and just part of modern-day working life. However, we are in danger of endorsing a tech-enabled 24-7 working culture from which it is increasingly difficult to switch off. Work-life balance is becoming a thing of the past. For many of us this is being overruled by work-life integration.

Whatever the positives of not being tied to the office desk, it is not helping us to relax. Stress and mental ill health now account for 57% of all long-term absences from work, having replaced physical complaints, such as backache, as the main reason employees are off sick.

According to the UK mental health charity Mind’s most recent Workplace Wellbeing Index, employees with poor mental health may resort to taking leave rather than disclosing mental health problems in as many as one in 12 cases. In an echo of the Deloitte findings, Mind found younger employees far less likely to disclose they are struggling with mental health.

So, what can be done to stop this worrying trend?

Reorganising the Workload 

Whether you are HR or Management, if you notice staff frequently using annual leave to keep on top of their workloads, think about the amount of work on their plate. Sit down with them and go through their weekly task list and help them to prioritise.

Having some insight into the volume of tasks they have to complete can help you to understand where they need some support; be it redistributing their workload or scouting a new hire to share the work.

This transparency will help to foster a positive atmosphere that your staff can thrive in without fear of what might happen if they don’t complete their work.

Flexible Hours and Remote Working 

Offices are inherently sociable places, and rightly so. However, distractions are often plentiful and concentrating on a task can be very difficult, leaving work to quickly mount up. Research has shown that the average worker is disrupted around 56 times a day and the cost of a distracted employee vastly outweighs that of a loss of productivity, according to a study done in 2018.

Remote or flexible working offers an ideal balance for many, removing distractions without punishing workers. Giving employees the flexibility to work from anywhere at any time instead of having to be in a distracting office environment during strict hours can often be the push they need to power through their workload.

Crushing the ‘always-on’ culture

If your employees are frequently working after hours and responding to emails, this is a sure-fire sign of leaveism. Our smartphones have made it easier than ever to catch up on work, check emails or access documents during our downtime. Coupled with the rise of Cloud software; the line between our professional and personal lives has become increasingly blurred.

A 2016 report by the Chartered Management Institute found the majority of UK managers spent an extra 29 days annually working outside office hours; something that is sure to have only increased in the last few years.

While French and German businesses have made strides in quashing the ‘always at work’ culture, the British have yet to make a stand against the digital ties that chain them to their work, to the obvious detriment of employee mental health and wellbeing.

In 2014, Daimler in Germany arranged for emails to be automatically deleted when employees were on holiday. The sender would then receive a message inviting them to find an alternative recipient of the email, leaving the employee to return from holiday to an empty inbox. 2017 saw France introduce a right to disconnect, with companies instructed to set out the hours when staff shouldn’t send or respond to emails.

While these two cases are relatively extreme, as an employer you should be ensuring that your employees don’t feel pressured into working outside of their contracted hours. Set expectations and understand your employees’ needs. Your employees also need to take some responsibility as it is up to them if they switch their phones off or not. Finally, we have to give a nod to all those emails outside working hours. Managers need to stop sending them. You know who you are.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:
https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article/64/3/146/1439077
https://www.naturalhr.com/2019/09/20/what-is-leaveism-and-how-can-you-combat-it/

http://theconversation.com/leaveism-welcome-to-the-dark-side-of-21st-century-flexible-working-130976

Organisations Have to Prioritise Young Workers’ Mental Health

Young workers aged between 18 and 30 are more likely to have mental health issues than their senior colleagues, with a whopping 48% reporting suicidal thoughts or feelings. This information has been made available from a survey of around 3,884 people conducted over two years by Accenture revealing this worrisome fact. In comparison, only 35% of older workers experience such dark emotions.

Even though they are more susceptible to experiencing such feelings, 45% of young workers admitted to ‘holding back’ from talking about their mental health in the workplace, compared with only 22% of older employees.

Younger people have also reported that they are experiencing more pressure in their lives than their older counterparts, with 4 out of 10 people between the ages of 18 and 30 revealing that the pressures from work are affecting them on a daily basis, 1 in 3 are worried about the mental health of someone close to them.

Barbara Harvey, managing director and mental health lead for Accenture UK, has said “It’s clear that many young people face challenges with their mental health before they enter the workforce and while working, and that they are affected more often than their senior peers. Therefore, mental health must be a priority issue for employers.”

The aforementioned study has also brought up to the attention of the general public about the advantages of working in a supportive and open culture, with 41% of those working in such environments experiencing mental health challenges, compared with 65% in less supportive environments.

Mental ill health has been estimated to cost the UK economy around £94 billion per year, according to figures released in 2018 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with 1 in 6 people across Europe struggling with their mental health.

The financial aspect alone offers a compelling and insightful reason for organisations to take action in addressing this problem. For example, in 2017, an independent review commissioned by the British prime minister put the annual cost to UK employers of poor mental health in workers between £33 billion and £42 billion.

Additional action needs to be taken. Here are 3 simple actions leading organisations have started taking to get things moving faster in the right direction.

1.   Onboarding is Essential

Young people often enter the workforce with little sense of what is about to hit them. It’s important to help them make the transition to a kind of pressure many have never faced before.

Boots, a UK health, beauty and pharmacy company, regularly reaches out to secondary schools, colleges, and local universities. It runs workshops and gives talks that help potential recruits better understand the workplace, and taps its own younger employees as leaders of these events to ensure that the messages resonate. Boots also helps young hires to build skills and confidence and better adjust to their new responsibilities through group discussions and workshops. Early-career tutors are trained to help these workers and are, in turn, helped by others; they know how to escalate any concerns to a colleague who has had specific training on mental health issues.

2.   Train Them How You Want Them

Once people have been onboarded, they need help understanding how to manage the stresses and strains of the job and how to deal with those particular situations. The key here is to design solutions.

The international law firm Allen & Overy has many trainees, most of whom join on a two-year contract. Working with and led by the younger cohort, senior managers created a programme that focuses on the human element of life as a lawyer. Trainers equip new lawyers with ‘practical resilience skills and advice’ to help them achieve a healthy work-life balance in a high-pressure environment. Among those lessons are included how to set and maintain boundaries between personal and work time. A message that is best delivered by people who have experienced that.

One recent pilot initiative coming out of this process involves ‘protected evenings.’  It allows trainees to flag nights that are important to them, giving them more control over their schedules. Trainees also publish a newsletter every two weeks that helps address key concerns on their agenda.

3.   The Role of Senior Leaders

They should be open about the challenges they have faced and they should show vulnerability. When they speak up, not only would they help their struggling younger workers realise that they’re not alone, they would also be giving them some language to use to describe their own experiences.

Paul Feeney – CEO of Quilter a wealth management company in London – has stated that making it personal is the best solution: “In our industry, we have a saying, ‘Don’t take it personal.’ We should make it personal. People need to know it is OK to not be OK. The best thing to do is open up and talk about it.”

The more we can do to reduce the stigma of this topic and bring it further out of shadows into the mainstream, the less will people need to be brave to talk about their experiences. And they will be happier, more confident, and more productive at work and beyond.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.zenefits.com/workest/young-workers-demand-emphasis-on-mental-health-in-the-workplace/

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/young-workers-suicidal-thoughts-mental-health-talking-a9217911.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-most-anxious-generation-goes-to-work-11557418951

Betrayal in the Workplace and How to Deal with It

Betrayal comes in many ways and forms and the one that happens in the workplace is no different. There may be times when you be undermined by a co-worker during a presentation, ignored by your manager or blindsided by a fellow colleague. This almost always leads to professional and personal deception, which, more often than not, leads to unwarranted stress and disappointment. The next logical step in this situation would be to take some affirmative action, but caution is key here. It is imperative that you have a clear understanding of the situation and circumstances of the betrayal in order to fully understand what and how you have to act next.

Of course, in a perfect world scenario, team members, managers and leaders work towards the same goal. But, unfortunately, there are moments when you’re doing your job at peak performance and, out of the blue, your manager throws you under the bus. It is never good when it happens and as an ‘added bonus’ it can damage your reputation with others.

You can count on the fingers of one hand things that are more hurtful than betrayal, especially when it is done by a person of trust. When the betrayal is done by your boss, the pain can be exacerbated given the fact that it’s the person who impacts your career and, more or less, livelihood. Betrayal by your boss can come in numerous ways: public shaming for a colleague’s mistake, taking credit for a project you solely did and oversaw and giving the promotion they have promised you to someone else.  

Given the fact that we have a wide and complex range of emotions, our brains process betrayal as trauma and, just like every other trauma, we expect it to repeat itself. Reactions to boss betrayal can range from losing the ability to trust other co-workers, hindering your optimism and resilience during strenuous times and even lacking the capacity to deal with complex situations. When this happens, our own behaviour should start concerning us, not our boss’s.

Recent research has discovered that 85% of workplace betrayal is unintentional. Although your boss’s betrayal wasn’t intentional, it still raises serious questions regarding his personality and seriousness. Furthermore, the research has stated that after your manager behaves badly, you are more inclined to do the exact same thing. It is of the utmost importance that you are clear on the values you wish your professional relationship to be based upon.

Even though it is as clear as the light of day that you won’t be able to change your boss’s behaviour and attitude, you can still manage to keep their bad conduct from changing you. Here are a few ways how.

Focus and Get Your Facts Straight

Before you act on your emotions and anger you must be sure that the information you have is correct, especially if you have received it second-hand in the first place. It is recommended that we discuss and assess the situation with the people we trust the most and which witnessed the exact circumstances. Even if you discover that your boss actually betrayed you, emotions must be kept in check. If you give in to those emotions and react unprofessional, you will unwantedly pass along the negative news that is out there about you.

 Patterns of betrayal

People who, unfortunately, tolerate abusive behaviour all their lives believe they deserve it and this can happen with an abusive boss. In some strange manner, a sort of Stockholm syndrome sets in and you start to accept betrayal as something normal. This type of action can be counter measured by interrupting them as soon and as much as possible. If they fail to keep their promises, keep their commitments to you well-documented. If they take credit for your work, make sure there are other managers who know that you have worked on that project. These actions may not change the behaviour, but they may just keep your mental health in order.

Reach out to HR

If the workplace treatment you are receiving is becoming more and more unfair and abusive and you cannot handle it any longer it may be time to involve the human resources (HR) department. By reporting the issue to HR, you are not just helping yourself, but the company as a whole. Problem managers can be easily identified and removed from an organisation if HR is involved. Worst case scenario, HR can help you find other opportunities within the company if a ‘cease fire’ cannot be agreed upon with the problematic manager.

It is quintessential to remember that not everybody is out to betray you. It is understandable that if you are constantly betrayed by your boss, you can easily become paranoid and stop trusting people altogether. It is imperative that you pay attention to your emotions and behaviours. You do not want to damage your professional relationships with other authoritative figures within the business. Are you constantly questioning the actions and motives of the people you rely on doing for your job? Are you over-analysing the decisions people are making in the office? As mentioned earlier, betrayal is an incredibly powerful and toxic force which can easily spread in to all other aspects of your life. Keep reminding yourself that not everyone is out to get you.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that when you are working for a ‘betrayal boss’ you should get out of there as quickly as can be. Until you can make your professional move elsewhere, do anything in your powers to protect yourself and not become a shadow of your former self. The choice to allow their betrayal to negatively impact you and who you are is and will always be yours.

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Sources:

https://work.chron.com/survive-workplace-betrayal-18986.html

https://hbr.org/2019/07/what-to-do-when-your-boss-betrays-you

https://www.fastcompany.com/40437356/what-to-do-when-your-boss-throws-you-under-the-bus