Employers Need To Tread Carefully On The Road Back To Office Working

Open plan office

In some ways the coming weeks and months are likely to be more difficult for organizations and employees than the past year or so has been. With governments increasingly intent on opening up economies effectively closed down by the pandemic, uncertainty is rife.

Employers and staff alike are caught between wanting to go back to something like normal and not wishing to take too many risks, especially since the Delta variant of the coronavirus is pushing spikes in new cases even in countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. where significant proportions of the population have been at least partially vaccinated.

One factor that could be behind the unease about rushing back to normal working habits is a feeling that, just as governments made mistakes in the handling of the crisis, so too did organizations. According to a survey just out from the finance comparison platform NerdWallet, a third of the U.K.’s business leaders are dissatisfied with the way that staff have been managed through the pandemic.

A similar proportion said that financial stability and business productivity was put ahead of staff safety. Unsurprisingly perhaps, more than half of the nearly 1,000 decision-makers questioned said they planned to carry out a review of how they had handled things. However, nearly half have already invested in new equipment designed to improve health and safety and to facilitate social distancing, while more than half have introduced greater flexibility to working hours.

Employers’ definitions of flexibility appear to be, well, flexible. An insight into the current situation is provided by the consultancy Mercer in its latest survey of working policies and practices among nearly 600 employers in the U.S.. The key findings were:

  • Hybrid working — a blend of in-person and remote working — was favoured by vast majority.
  • Predominantly office-based working was the preference of a fifth of employers.
  • Fully remote or virtual-first working was the choice of just 6% of employers
  • A distributed model making increased use of satellite campuses was likely to be adopted by just 4%.

Mercer’s research and analysis suggests that, across all industries, the proportion of the workforce working on-site full-time is likely to be about 40%. The hybrid category will probably be split, with about 29% of the workforce working remotely one or two days a week and approximately 17% doing so three or four days a week. About 14% of workers are expected to work remotely full-time.

The challenge for employers will be deciding how they can retain the employee experience and hang on to talent. Lauren Mason, principal in Mercer’s career business, and Ravin Jesuthasan, global leader of Mercer’s transformation business, suggest five principles to consider:

  1. Empower teams but set guidelines:  Nearly all employers plan to bring in changes to working policies as a result of the pandemic. Nearly half are already actively developing a strategy, while nearly a quarter of employers are in the process of implementing or have already implemented plans. Employers can and should empower teams to continue to work flexibly but they should also establish guidelines to maximize business outcomes and ensure a consistent employee experience.
  2. Keep a pulse on the market and your competition: Flexibility will likely have a high impact on an organization’s ability to retain talent. If employees are unhappy about employers’ flexible working plans, they will be likely to consider other workplaces that might better meet their needs.
  3. Don’t rush to get employees to the office: Employers should focus on returning employees in a way where co-working benefits can be maximized immediately. They should concentrate on making workers feel energized, empowered and engaged to be back together with their colleagues. This may entail phased transitions, where employees may only initially come in one or two days a week, planned team meetings or on-site social events and celebrations to make those early office days more purposeful.
  4. Stay agile: Workers do not want or need a standardized solution. Employers can demonstrate a continued trust and sense of partnership that was so valued during the pandemic by providing options that are appropriate for the work being performed. The key is to give employees some control and flexibility.
  5. Don’t limit flexibility to remote work: Flexible working is about more than remote working. Inclusive flexibility ensures that all jobs can be flexible when needed. Given the massive challenges employers are facing in attracting and retaining workers, options such as flexible schedules or compressed workweeks can be a huge differentiator. Progressive companies are not just challenging “when” and “where” work is done but also how the it is done, who does it and what the work is.
Check out my website.

I am a U.K.-based journalist with a longstanding interest in management. In a career dating back to the days before newsroom computers I have covered everything from popular music to local politics. I was for many years an editor and writer at the “Independent” and “Independent on Sunday” and have written three books, the most recent of which is “What you need to know about business.”

Source: Employers Need To Tread Carefully On The Road Back To Office Working

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More on Work & Jobs

Why Your Return to the Office Requires Two Workplace Safety Policies

Operating amid the pandemic has entered a new phase of difficulty–particularly for employers of both vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. Shortly after the CDC updated its guidelines on May 13, noting that vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear facemasks indoors, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency that oversees workplace health and safety, updated its Covid-19 guidance.

On June 26, OSHA updated guidance in compliance with the CDC to help employers protect workers who are still not vaccinated, with a special emphasis on industries with prolonged close-contacts such as meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, and grocery and high-volume retail. The guidance includes protocols for social distancing, mask wearing, and other health procedures meant to keep both parties safe.

Considering that just 52 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, chances are some of your employees have yet to get a jab. That means if you’re planning a return to the office, you’ll also need to create two separate workplace health policies.

These policies will be different from business to business, depending on the level of community spread in a given location and the level of contact employees have with the public. But acting is a must, says David Barron, labor and employment attorney at Cozen O’Connor. Failing to address a stratified workplace–or even just relying on the honor system–could lead to legal trouble, a loss of morale, turnover, and employees falling sick.

Founders like Dominique Kemps aren’t taking any chances. Her business, GlassExpertsFL, a commercial glass repair company, is located in Miami. Florida overall has been particularly hard hit by the Delta variant, a more contagious strain of the coronavirus. Daily, about 10 in 100,000 people are contracting the coronavirus by way of the Delta variant. As of July 2, only 46 percent of the population of Florida was fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Kemps has devised two separate physical workspaces: one for vaccinated employees and another for those who remain unvaccinated. Also for unvaccinated employees, meetings are held virtually, while vaccinated employees can wear a mask and attend if desired. Vaccinated employees can also eat lunch together, while Kemps has asked unvaccinated employees to eat in a designated area. “Frankly,” she says, “it hasn’t been easy.”

Here’s how to ease the transition:

1. Request vaccination information.

Before you make any decisions regarding which policies to enact, first ask and keep track of who is vaccinated and who isn’t, says Dr. Shantanu Nundy, chief medical officer at Accolade, a benefit provider for health care workers. An employer can request a copy of an employee’s vaccination card or other proof, which should help you determine how much of your workforce falls under one policy or another.

If you opt to review vaccination information, note that anything you collect must be considered confidential information that has to be kept private in files that are separate from personnel files. A failure to do so may result in anti-discrimination violations under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, two laws that protect workers from health status discrimination.

2. Overcommunicate any policy changes.

It’s also crucial to communicate any change in policy openly. Robert Johnson, founder of Sawinery, a Windsor, Connecticut-based creator of woodworking projects, divided workers into two shifts, the first for vaccinated individuals, and another for unvaccinated workers. He’s made it clear to his staff that he’s waiting until everyone is vaccinated before returning to the original schedule.

“The structure won’t compromise anyone’s safety and everyone can work without any worries in mind,” says Johnson.

3. Stay flexible.

If anything has been true about the pandemic, it’s that things can change rapidly. As such, Nundy recommends clarifying that policies are flexible and may be subject to change. Some unvaccinated folks may want to leave if they feel they’re being treated differently, such as not being allowed into the office. Some smart wording can easily allay these concerns, he says. Instead of telling unvaccinated employees that they’re not welcome in the office again, make it clear that the policies are temporary–if that’s the case, of course–and that you’re open to feedback, adds Nundy.

The occupational safety and health policy defines the goals for the occupational health and safety work in the workplace and for activities that promote the working capacity of the staff. The policy also describes occupational health and safety responsibilities and the way of organizing the cooperation measures. The preparation of the occupational safety and health policy is based on the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The policy is employer-specific and applies to all employers.

By: Brit Morse, Assistant editor, Inc.@britnmorse

Source: Why Your Return to the Office Requires Two Workplace Safety Policies | Inc.com

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Critics:

Workplace wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes. Known as ‘corporate wellbeing’ outside the US, workplace wellness often comprises activities such as health education, medical screenings, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs or facilities.

Workplace wellness programs can be categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary prevention efforts, or an employer can implement programs that have elements of multiple types of prevention. Primary prevention programs usually target a fairly healthy employee population, and encourage them to more frequently engage in health behaviors that will encourage ongoing good health (such as stress management, exercise and healthy eating).

Secondary prevention programs are targeted at reducing behavior that is considered a risk factor for poor health (such as smoking cessation programs and screenings for high blood pressure). Tertiary health programs address existing health problems (for example, by encouraging employees to better adhere to specific medication or self-managed care guidelines).

References:

High Turnover? Here Are 3 Things CEOs Do That Sabotage Their Workplace Culture

She has one too many deadlines to deal with

Every CEO wants long-standing employees, but their ineffective leadership causes organizational stress that cripples the workplace culture. Quite often, we read articles or hear of CEOs abusing their power and tarnishing their company’s reputation.

This is due to them neglecting feedback from their team and making decisions based solely on their own judgement. Not only does this erode trust, but it sets a standard that employee and leadership voices are not welcome.

When employees are taken care of, they go above and beyond to drive the company forward. Conversely, when they don’t feel valued, appreciated or kept in the loop, employees quickly become disengaged. The cost of a disengaged employee impacts more than the bottom line.

It decreases productivity, creates negative client experiences and destroys the company culture, to name a few. According to a Gallup survey, the State of the American Workplace 2021, 80% of workers are not fully engaged or are actively disengaged at work.

While CEOs claim to embody a people-first and feedback-driven culture, they believe, due to their position, that they know better than everyone else. Todd Ramlin, manager of Cable Compare, said, “if a person is fortunate to have the opportunity to be a CEO, they need to ask themselves if they can live by the company values, expectations, rules and processes that are in place.” They can’t pick and choose which rules and processes to abide by, yet punish others when they do the same. Doing so cultivates a toxic workplace and demonstrates poor leadership.

Here are three things CEOs do that sabotage their workplace culture.

Embraces Data, Dodges Emotions

The workplace is made up of a diverse group of experiences and perspectives. CEOs who lack the emotional intelligence to understand another person’s viewpoint or situation will find themselves losing their most valuable people. Sabine Saadeh, financial trading and asset management expert, said, “companies that are only data driven and don’t care about the well-being of their employees will not sustain in today’s global economy.”

Businessolver’s 2021 State Of Workplace Empathy report, revealed that “68% of CEOs fear that they’ll be less respected if they show empathy in the workplace.” CEOs who fail to lead with empathy will find themselves with a revolving door of leadership team members and employees. I once had a CEO tell me that he didn’t want emotions present in his business because it created a distraction from the data. His motto was, “if it’s not data, it’s worthless”.

As such, he disregarded feedback of employee dissatisfaction and burnout. Yet, he couldn’t understand why the average tenure of his employees very rarely surpassed one year. Willie Greer, founder of The Product Analyst, asserted, “data is trash if you’re replacing workers because you care more about data than your people.”

Micromanages Their Leadership Team

One of the ways a CEO sabotages a company’s culture is by micromanaging their leadership team. Consequently, this leads to leadership having to micromanage their own team to satisfy the CEOs unrealistic expectations. When leadership feels disempowered to make decisions, they either pursue another opportunity or check out due to not being motivated to achieve company goals.

As such, the executives who were hired to bring change aren’t able to live up to their full potential. Moreover, they’re unable to make the impact they desired due to the CEOs lack of trust in them. Employees undoubtedly feel the stress of their leadership team as it reverberates across the company.

Arun Grewal, founder and Editor-in-chief at Coffee Breaking Pr0, said, most CEOs are specialists in one area or another, which can make them very particular. However, if they want to drive their company forward they need to trust in the experts they hired rather than trying to make all of the company’s decisions.

At one point during my career, I reported to a CEO who never allowed me to fully take over my department. Although he praised me for my HR expertise during the interview, once hired, I quickly realized he still wanted full control over my department. Despite not having HR experience, he disregarded everything I brought to the table to help his company.

I soon began questioning my own abilities. No matter how hard I tried to shield my team from the stress I endured, the CEO would reach out to them directly to micromanage their every move. This left our entire department feeling drained, demoralized and demotivated. Sara Bernier, founder of Born for Pets, said, “CEOs who meddle in the smallest of tasks chip away at the fundamentals of their own company because everything has to run through them”. She added, “this eliminates the employee’s ownership of their own work because all tasks are micromanaged by the CEO.

Neglects Valuable Employee Feedback

Instead of seeking feedback from their leadership team or employees, CEOs avoid it altogether. Eropa Stein, founder and CEO of Hyre, said, “making mistakes and getting negative feedback from your team is a normal part of leading a company, no matter how long you’ve been in business.”

She went on, “as a leader, it’s important to put your ego aside and listen to feedback that will help your business grow. If everyone agrees with you all the time, you’re creating a cult mentality that’ll be detrimental to your business’ success in the long run.” This results in a toxic and unproductive workplace culture.

What’s worse than avoiding constructive feedback is receiving it and disregarding it entirely. Neglecting valuable feedback constructs a company culture where no individual feels safe voicing their concerns. Rather than silence those who give negative feedback, CEOs should embrace them. These are the individuals who are bringing issues forward to turn them into strengths in an effort to create a stronger company.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a Leadership Coach & Workplace Culture Consultant at Heidi Lynne Consulting helping individuals and organizations gain the confidence to become better leaders for themselves and their teams. As a consultant, I deliver and implement strategies to develop current talent and create impactful and engaging employee experiences. Companies hire me to to speak, coach, consult and train their teams and organizations of all sizes. I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge working internationally in Europe, America and Asia. I use my global expertise to provide virtual and in-person consulting and leadership coaching to the students at Babson College, Ivy League students and my global network. I’m a black belt in Six Sigma, former Society of Human Resources (SHRM) President and domestic violence mentor. Learn more at http://www.heidilynneco.com or get in touch at Heidi@heidilynneco.com.

Source: High Turnover? Here Are 3 Things CEOs Do That Sabotage Their Workplace Culture

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Critics:

Organizational culture refers to culture in any type of organization including that of schools, universities, not-for-profit groups, government agencies, or business entities. In business, terms such as corporate culture and company culture are often used to refer to a similar concept.

The term corporate culture became widely known in the business world in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Corporate culture was already used by managers, sociologists, and organizational theorists by the beginning of the 80s. The related idea of organizational climate emerged in the 1960s and 70s, and the terms are now somewhat overlapping,as climate is one aspect of culture that focuses primarily on the behaviors encouraged by the organization

If organizational culture is seen as something that characterizes an organization, it can be manipulated and altered depending on leadership and members. Culture as root metaphor sees the organization as its culture, created through communication and symbols, or competing metaphors. Culture is basic, with personal experience producing a variety of perspectives.

Most of the criticism comes from the writers in critical management studies who for example express skepticism about the functionalist and unitarist views about culture that are put forward by mainstream management writers. They stress the ways in which these cultural assumptions can stifle dissent towards management and reproduce propaganda and ideology. They suggest that organizations do not encompass a single culture, and cultural engineering may not reflect the interests of all stakeholders within an organization.

References

  • Schein, E. H. (1990). Organizational culture. American Psychologist, 45, 109–119. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.45.2.109
  • Compare: Hatch, Mary Jo; Cunliffe, Ann L. (2013) [1997]. “A history of organizational culture in organization theory”. Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 161. ISBN 9780199640379. OCLC 809554483. Retrieved 7 June 2020. With the publication of his book The Changing Culture of a Factory in 1952, British sociologist Elliott Jaques became the first organization theorist to describe an organizational culture.
  • Jaques, Elliott (1951). The changing culture of a factory. Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. [London]: Tavistock Publications. p. 251. ISBN 978-0415264426. OCLC 300631.
  • Compare: Kummerow, Elizabeth (12 September 2013). Organisational culture : concept, context, and measurement. Kirby, Neil.; Ying, Lee Xin. New Jersey. p. 13. ISBN 9789812837837. OCLC 868980134. Jacques [sic], a Canadian psychoanalyst and organisational psychologist, made a major contribution […] with his detailed study of Glacier Metals, a medium-sized British manufacturing company.
  • Ravasi, D.; Schultz, M. (2006). “Responding to organizational identity threats: Exploring the role of organizational culture”. Academy of Management Journal. 49 (3): 433–458. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.472.2754. doi:10.5465/amj.2006.21794663.
  • Schein, Edgar H. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. pp. 26–33. ISBN 0787968455. OCLC 54407721.
  • Schrodt, P (2002). “The relationship between organizational identification and organizational culture: Employee perceptions of culture and identification in a retail sales organization”. Communication Studies. 53 (2): 189–202. doi:10.1080/10510970209388584. S2CID 143645350.
  • Schein, Edgar (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership: A Dynamic View. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. pp. 9.
  • Deal T. E. and Kennedy, A. A. (1982, 2000) Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1982; reissue Perseus Books, 2000
  • Kotter, J. P.; Heskett, James L. (1992). Corporate Culture and Performance. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-918467-7.
  • Selart, Marcus; Schei, Vidar (2011): “Organizational Culture”. In: Mark A. Runco and Steven R. Pritzker (eds.): Encyclopedia of Creativity, 2nd edition, vol. 2. San Diego: Academic Press, pp. 193–196.
  • Compare: Flamholtz, Eric G.; Randle, Yvonne (2011). Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset. Stanford Business Books. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780804777544. Retrieved 2018-10-25. […] in a very real sense, corporate culture can be thought of as a company’s ‘personality’.
  • Compare: Flamholtz, Eric; Randle, Yvonne (2014). “13: Implications of organizational Life Cycles for Corporate Culture and Climate”. In Schneider, Benjamin; Barbera, Karen M. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Climate and Culture. Oxford Library of psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 247. ISBN 9780199860715. Retrieved 2018-10-25. The essence of corporate culture, then, is the values, beliefs, and norms or behavioral practices that emerge in an organization. In this sense, organizational culture is the personality of the organization.
  • Compare: Flamholtz, Eric; Randle, Yvonne (2014). “13: Implications of organizational Life Cycles for Corporate Culture and Climate”. In Schneider, Benjamin; Barbera, Karen M. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Climate and Culture. Oxford Library of psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 247. ISBN 9780199860715. Retrieved 2018-10-25. The essence of corporate culture, then, is the values, beliefs, and norms or behavioral practices that emerge in an organization.
  • Jaques, Elliott (1998). Requisite organization : a total system for effective managerial organization and managerial leadership for the 21st century (Rev. 2nd ed.). Arlington, VA: Cason Hall. ISBN 978-1886436039. OCLC 36162684.
  • Jaques, Elliott (2017). “Leadership and Organizational Values”. Requisite Organization: A Total System for Effective Managerial Organization and Managerial Leadership for the 21st Century (2 ed.). Routledge. ISBN 9781351551311. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  • “Culture is everything,” said Lou Gerstner, the CEO who pulled IBM from near ruin in the 1990s.”, Culture Clash: When Corporate Culture Fights Strategy, It Can Cost You Archived 2011-11-10 at the Wayback Machine, knowmgmt, Arizona State University, March 30, 2011
  • Unlike many expressions that emerge in business jargon, the term spread to newspapers and magazines. Few usage experts object to the term. Over 80 percent of usage experts accept the sentence The new management style is a reversal of GE’s traditional corporate culture, in which virtually everything the company does is measured in some form and filed away somewhere.”, The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • One of the first to point to the importance of culture for organizational analysis and the intersection of culture theory and organization theory is Linda Smircich in her article Concepts of Culture and Organizational Analysis in 1983. See Smircich, Linda (1983). “Concepts of Culture and Organizational Analysis”. Administrative Science Quarterly. 28 (3): 339–358. doi:10.2307/2392246. hdl:10983/26094. JSTOR 2392246.
  • “The term “Corporate Culture” is fast losing the academic ring it once had among U.S. manager. Sociologists and anthropologists popularized the word “culture” in its technical sense, which describes overall behavior patterns in groups. But corporate managers, untrained in sociology jargon, found it difficult to use the term unselfconsciously.” in Phillip Farish, Career Talk: Corporate Culture, Hispanic Engineer, issue 1, year 1, 1982
  • Halpin, A. W., & Croft, D. B. (1963). The organizational climate of schools. Chicago: Midwest Administration Center of the University of Chicago.
  • Fred C. Lunenburg, Allan C. Ornstein, Educational Administration: Concepts and Practices, Cengage Learning, 2011, pp. 67
  • “What Is Organizational Climate?”. paulspector.com. Retrieved 2021-05-01.

Return to Office: Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Work From Home

A six-minute meeting drove Portia Twidt to quit her job. She’d taken the position as a research compliance specialist in February, enticed by promises of remote work. Then came the prodding to go into the office. Meeting invites piled up.

The final straw came a few weeks ago: the request for an in-person gathering, scheduled for all of 360 seconds. Twidt got dressed, dropped her two kids at daycare, drove to the office, had the brief chat and decided she was done.

“I had just had it,” said Twidt, 33, who lives in Marietta, Georgia.

With the coronavirus pandemic receding for every vaccine that reaches an arm, the push by some employers to get people back into offices is clashing with workers who’ve embraced remote work as the new normal.

While companies from Google to Ford Motor Co. and Citigroup Inc. have promised greater flexibility, many chief executives have publicly extolled the importance of being in offices. Some have lamented the perils of remote work, saying it diminishes collaboration and company culture. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon said at a recent conference that it doesn’t work “for those who want to hustle.”

But legions of employees aren’t so sure. If anything, the past year has proved that lots of work can be done from anywhere, sans lengthy commutes on crowded trains or highways. Some people have moved. Others have lingering worries about the virus and vaccine-hesitant colleagues.

And for Twidt, there’s also the notion that some bosses, particularly those of a generation less familiar to remote work, are eager to regain tight control of their minions.

“They feel like we’re not working if they can’t see us,” she said. “It’s a boomer power-play.”

It’s still early to say how the post-pandemic work environment will look. Only about 28% of U.S. office workers are back at their buildings, according to an index of 10 metro areas compiled by security company Kastle Systems. Many employers are still being lenient with policies as the virus lingers, vaccinations continue to roll out and childcare situations remain erratic.

But as office returns accelerate, some employees may want different options. A May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. The generational difference is clear: Among millennials and Gen Z, that figure was 49%, according to the poll by Morning Consult on behalf of Bloomberg News.

“High-five to them,” said Sara Sutton, the CEO of FlexJobs, a job-service platform focused on flexible employment. “Remote work and hybrid are here to stay.”

The lack of commutes and cost savings are the top benefits of remote work, according to a FlexJobs survey of 2,100 people released in April. More than a third of the respondents said they save at least $5,000 per year by working remotely.

Jimme Hendrix, a 30-year-old software developer in the Netherlands, quit his job in December as the web-application company he worked for was gearing up to bring employees back to the office in February.

“During Covid I really started to see how much I enjoyed working from home,” Hendrix said.

Now he does freelance work and helps his girlfriend grow her art business. He used to spend two hours each day commuting; now the couple is considering selling their car and instead relying on bikes.

One of the main benefits, he says, is more control over his own time: “I can just do whatever I want around the house, like a quick chore didn’t have to wait until like 8 p.m. anymore, or I can go for a quick walk.”

Of course, not everyone has the flexibility to choose. For the millions of frontline workers who stock the shelves of grocery stores, care for patients in hospitals and nursing homes, or drop off packages at people’s doors, there are scant alternative options to showing up in person.

But among those who can, many are weighing their alternatives, said Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, who’s researched why people quit jobs. Bosses taking a hard stance should beware, particularly given labor shortages in the economy, he said.

“If you’re a company that thinks everything’s going back to normal, you may be right but it’s pretty risky to hope that’s the case,” he said.

At least some atop the corporate ladder seem to be paying attention. In a Jan. 12 PwC survey of 133 executives, fewer than one in five said they want to go back to pre-pandemic routines. But only 13% were prepared to let go of the office for good.

Alison Green, founder of workplace-advice website Ask a Manager, said she’s been contacted by many people with qualms about going back, citing concerns about unvaccinated colleagues and Covid precautions. Some have said they’re looking for jobs at companies they feel take the virus seriously, or will let them work from anywhere.

Some things are indeed lost with remote work, Green said, like opportunities for collaboration or learning for junior employees. But, she added: “I think we need to have a more nuanced discussion than: hustlers only do well in the office.”

For Sarah-Marie Martin, who lived in Manhattan and worked as a partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. when the pandemic struck, the months at home gave her time to redraw the blueprint of her life.

“When you have this existential experience, you have time to step back and think,” Martin said. “In my previous life, I didn’t have time to get super deep and philosophical.”

The mother of five moved her family to the New Jersey shore. And once the push to get back to offices picked up, the idea of commuting hardly seemed alluring. This spring, Martin accepted a fully remote position as chief financial officer of Yumi, a Los Angeles-based maker of baby food.

Gene Garland, 24, unknowingly opened the floodgates to people’s frustrations about office returns. After his employer, an IT company, in April told people they needed to start coming in, two of his close colleagues handed in their resignation letters. Garland, who lives in Hampton, Virginia, tapped out a tweet:

Hundreds of people responded, with many outlining plans, or at least hopes, to leave their own jobs. Garland says he himself has no plans to quit, but empathizes with those who do.

“Working inside of a building really does restrict time a lot more than you think,” he said. “A lot of people are afraid of the cycle where you work and work and work — and then you die.”

Twidt, the compliance specialist in Georgia, had already lined up a new job by the time she handed in her resignation letter: a role at a Washington-based company.

The recruiter that approached her, Twidt said, asked what it would take to get her on board. She replied that she would prefer something 100% remote. Some employees have enjoyed working from home so much that they’d rather quit their jobs than go back to the office full time, a new survey found.

Out of 1,000 US adults polled in May, 39% said they’d consider quitting if their bosses weren’t flexible about them working from home. The Morning Consult survey was first reported by Bloomberg. The survey showed that 49% of the respondents who said they’d consider quitting were millennials and Gen Z — i.e., adults born after 1980.

Many global companies are embracing a hybrid work model as staff start to return to offices post-pandemic. Finance giants, who were known for having a strict work culture, are now adopting more flexible work models. Some have decided to redesign the workplace for more collaboration, and keep solo tasks for remote working. Others plan to cut back on office space entirely.

But some firms, such as JPMorgan, are not won over by the idea of remote work and want to see the majority of their workforce in the office. Jamie Dimon, the company’s CEO, said on May 4 that remote work “does not work for young people” and “those who want to hustle.” Chris Biggs, a partner at the consultancy firm Theta Global Advisors, told Insider that employers need to be “tuned into people’s mental health” as staff return to the office.

“You could do a lot of damage to those who don’t want to go into the office,” he said, adding that employers shouldn’t force people to come into the office.

— With assistance by Sridhar Natarajan

By: and

Source: Return to Office: Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Work From Home – Bloomberg

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Critics:

Refusal of work is behavior in which a person refuses regular employment. As actual behavior, with or without a political or philosophical program, it has been practiced by various subcultures and individuals. Radical political positions have openly advocated refusal of work. From within Marxism it has been advocated by Paul Lafargue and the Italian workerist/autonomists (e.g. Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti), the French ultra-left (e.g. Échanges et Mouvement); and within anarchism (especially Bob Black and the post-left anarchy tendency).

In employment law, constructive dismissal, also called constructive discharge or constructive termination, occurs when an employee resigns as a result of the employer creating a hostile work environment. Since the resignation was not truly voluntary, it is, in effect, a termination. For example, when an employer places extraordinary and unreasonable work demands on an employee to obtain their resignation, this can constitute a constructive dismissal.

The exact legal consequences differ between different countries, but generally a constructive dismissal leads to the employee’s obligations ending and the employee acquiring the right to make claims against the employer. The employee may resign over a single serious incident or over a pattern of incidents. Generally, a party seeking relief must have resigned soon after one of the constructive acts.

Notes

Employees Are More Likely To Pretend They’re Working When Employers Track Their Productivity: Here’s Why

Shocked african business man feel frustrated looking at laptop screen

Big Brother-like attempts by employers to track the productivity of remote workers seems to be backfiring.

A new study released by research firm Gartner shows that employees are nearly two times more likely to pretend to be working when their employers use tracking systems to monitor their output. Gartner surveyed more than 2,400 professionals in January 2021.

“Our role as managers is to create an environment where people can do their best work. It’s really hard to do your best work if you feel like you are not trusted,” says Carol Cochran, vice president of people and culture at remote career site FlexJobs. “If I feel like someone doesn’t trust me enough to feel like I’m doing my work without monitoring through software, how do I trust them back? How do I build that physical safety?”

This past year, there’s been an uptick in reports of companies using monitoring software to keep tabs on their newly remote workforces, turning to technology to track their keystrokes and search histories, as well as tools to take periodic screenshots of their computers.

Reid Blackman, founder and CEO of corporate ethics consulting firm Virtue Consultants, said he’s not surprised employees are falsifying their work. “Obviously people are going to game the system … especially if they think the system is unfair,” he says.

Though he says it’s not unreasonable for managers to have concerns about  their workers’ productivity, he suggests they think critically about why they want to use such software and what they stand to accomplish before deploying any systems. Blackman also recommends discussing the move with employees beforehand so they can ask questions and understand the reasoning behind it.

Alexia Cambon, a research director at Gartner, says employers’ initial instincts to track their employees may have been well-intentioned, especially in the early days of the pandemic, when there was a need to recreate in-office strategies at home. However, many companies did not take human behavior into consideration, she says.

“If you know that, as humans, we will struggle to disconnect from a remote world …. then you really need to create strategies to incentivize people to disconnect and not stay on longer hours,” Cambon says.

Gartner also found that adapting office-centric practices for hybrid work environments, such as creating an abundance of meetings, has led to virtual fatigue. Employees who now spend more time in meetings are 1.24 times more likely to feel emotionally drained from their work, the study found.

Cambon cautions that when employees experience high levels of fatigue, their performance can decrease by up to 33% and feelings of inclusion can decrease by up to 44%. Ultimately, these workers are up to 54% less likely to remain with their employers, she says.

Contrary to prevailing advice, Cochran advises companies to reconsider asking their employees to turn on their cameras for video meetings, as doing so can make them more exhausting. As a compromise, she suggests that everyone turn on their cameras for the first couple of minutes to exchange pleasantries with coworkers, but turn them off when it’s time to work.

“We shouldn’t do things just because it seems right or seems like the best practice,” she says. “We really need to be intentional in how we are managing these workforces, whether they are remote, hybrid or in person.”

I’m the Careers reporter at Forbes. Previously, I covered the world’s richest people as a member of the wealth team. Before joining Forbes, I reported for the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Register, covering breaking and local news. A Connecticut native, I studied journalism at Penn State University. Follow me on Twitter @KristinStoller.

Kristin Stoller

 

By:

 

Source: Employees Are More Likely To Pretend They’re Working When Employers Track Their Productivity: Here’s Why

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► Find us at https://www.bernieportal.com/hr-party… Remote work can be tough on teams. In this episode, Ryan covers the struggles HR professionals face with engagement, the productivity tracking platforms that can solve these issues, and how to communicate updates to your team. BerniePortal: The all-in-one HRIS that makes building a business & managing its people easy. http://bit.ly/2NEQ5Qb
What is an HRIS? https://bit.ly/what-is-an-hris Stay up to date with the latest HR news and benefits administration by subscribing to the BerniePortal Blog https://blog.bernieportal.com/ Related Blog: Five Great Productivity Tools for Remote Workers https://blog.bernieportal.com/five-gr… Related Blog: Tips for Tracking Remote Work Employee Engagement https://blog.bernieportal.com/track-e… One Sheet Guide: Technology for Remote Workers by BerniePortal & BernieU https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/131307… Related Episode: Overtime Pay: Exempt vs. Non-Exempt https://www.bernieportal.com/hr-party…
Referenced Article: Gallup: Reviewing Remote Work in the U.S. https://news.gallup.com/poll/311375/r… For more check out the HR Party of One Tips for Working Remotely Playlist on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list… Hubstaff, the employee tracking software we use. https://hubstaff.com/ BernieU: Your free one-stop-shop for compelling, convenient, and comprehensive HR training and courses that will keep you up-to-date on all things human resources. Approved for SHRM & HRCI recertification credit hours. Enroll today! https://university.bernieportal.com/
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Don’t Let a Bad Tech Stack Hurt Employee Retention

A bad tech stack can make it difficult for companies to succeed against competitors in everything from customer engagement and sales to production and innovation. But, outdated, annoying or confusing technology can also harm your organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent, which will be increasingly difficult and important as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and the labor market tightens.

To be sure, it will be several years before the U.S. and global economies return to pre-COVID levels. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the U.S. won’t hit pre-pandemic employment levels until 2024. But given that major enterprise IT shifts can also take years, now is the time to evaluate your tech stack and ensure your organization has the right tools for a digital workforce that’s geographically dispersed, discerning when it comes to technology and willing to walk if an employer’s technology hinders their success.

Don’t believe me?

According the State of Software Happiness Report 2019 from G2:

  • 52% of workers said they have “become dissatisfied at work due to missing or mismatched software”
  • 24% of respondents said they have “considered looking for a new job” because they “didn’t have the right software”
  • 13% of employees said they have actually left a job because of the software their employer required them to use
  • 95% of workers said they would be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with better software tools
  • 86% of respondents said they would be “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with more software tools

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to close offices and most office workers to become telecommuters, technology became and even more important factor in employee job satisfaction. According to Adobe Workfront’s State of Work 2021 report, released last week:

  • 32% of workers said they had left a job because the employer’s technology “was a barrier to their ability to do good work.” This was up from 22% pre-COVID.
  • 49% of U.S. workers said they are “likely to leave their current job if they’re unhappy or frustrated with the technology they use at work.”
  • 12 point increase in the number of people “who report turning down a job because the tech was out of date or hard to use” between February and March 2020 to November and December 2020
  •  7 point increase in the number of people “who reported applying for a job because they heard a company’s employees use great technology” between February and March 2020 to November and December 2020

Check out Dallon Adams’ article on ZDNet sibling site TechRepublic for more insights from the Workfront report on how Gen Xers are thriving in the world of remote work with millennials are struggling.

5 ways companies can improve employee IT satisfaction

So, as companies race to accelerate their digital transformation efforts to meet the needs of their customers in the new normal, they should also re-examine the hardware and software their employees are using. Here are few tips for building a tech stack that can help promote employee success, boost productivity, and build good will for IT.

  1. Make sure existing tools meet user needs and work as expected: Before you roll out new hardware and software, start with what you already have. Conduct a user satisfaction survey to find out if your current tech stack is meeting employee needs. A TechRepublic 2014 enterprise application software report found that only 26% of respondents were “very satisfied” with their software. IT can also use service desk call logs or reporting tools within their IT service management solution to detect applications and hardware that create regular pain points for end users.
  2. Give employees access to “new” technology: According to the Workfront report, employees are more interested in having access to “new” technology now compared to before the pandemic. The report showed a 5 point increase in the number of respondents who said that “old technology is making it harder to take on more work.” I know budget is always a consideration with any IT purchase, but if your staff is still using 7-year-old computers, it’s time to rethink your IT budget.
  3. Offer employees choice as a rule not an exception: Another data point from the Workfront report was that employees “expect their employers to trust and empower them to know how to achieve the right outcomes.” When I first started my IT career, there were Windows shops and then there was everything else. But today, and honestly for the last decade, modern device management tools and cloud services make it easier than ever to manage multiple operating systems, applications, and hardware platforms. With few exceptions, IT shouldn’t lock employees into (or more importantly out of) tools they believe will help them achieve company goals. I’m not suggesting you should run 5 different finance or CRM systems, but, there’s no reason not to support multiple productivity suites. If accounting needs Excel, sales wants PowerPoint, and everyone else wants Google Docs…fine. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace can coexist. And if you’re thinking, “But Bill, we’ll get a price break if we use a single software platform.” Those initial low-price deals often expire in a few years (like an introductory interest rate on a credit card) and then you’re back to paying market rates. The same goes for hardware. If Legal wants Windows laptops, the Sales staff wants MacBooks, and your devs want Windows workstations make it happen. Sure, you can have a “standard” machine and drive image that you give to 80% of staff, but don’t just be the department of “no” when someone makes a legitimate business request.
  4. Support flexible/remote working environments: Even as COVID vaccines reach more workers, employees return to offices and public venues reopen, the nature of work has been forever changed by the pandemic. More people will work remotely than before COVID, and IT will need to switch from reactively supporting telecommuters to proactively empowering them. This means giving people have access to the hardware (monitors, keyboards, mice, trackpads, cables, external storage devices, etc.), software, and cloud services they need to work effectively from their home.
  5. Balance security with ease of use: If you make a security measure too onerous for people, they’ll find a way around it. This fact holds true for physical and cybersecurity. There’s no doubt in today’s world of constant cyberattacks everyone organization and individual needs to use strong security tools and follow best practices, there’s a fine line between doing security and overdoing security. For example, IBM released research in 2020 that shows simply deploying lots and lots os security tools doesn’t lead to stronger security. “The enterprise is slowly improving its response to cybersecurity incidents, but in the same breath, it is still investing in too many tools that can actually reduce the effectiveness of defense,” wrote Charlie Osborne for ZDNet’s Zero Day in her article on the report. For practical tips on balancing security and user accessibility, check out Scott Matteson’s list of cybersecurity do’s and don’ts.

When done together, these steps can go a long way to build a tech stack that fosters employee satisfaction with IT and the company as a whole, which as research shows is important for hiring and keeping top talent.

By:

Source: Don’t let a bad tech stack hurt employee retention, use these tips to improve worker IT satisfaction | ZDNet

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Employers, Here Are 4 Ways You Can Begin To Effectively Tackle Employee Burnout

Tired Business woman

As the pandemic lingers, employee burnout is at historic levels. More than 70% of employees reported being burnt out and feeling that their employers aren’t doing enough to address workplace burnout. Workplace burnout is commonly defined as extreme physical and emotional exhaustion that results in a lack of professional efficacy, increased cynicism, lack of engagement and depleted energy.

Employee burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a series of triggers that occur over time causing even the most passionate employee to become disengaged.

Some warning signs that an employee is likely burnt out include:

  • Detached from the workplace culture
  • Loss of motivation and enthusiasm for their job
  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased mistakes and poor memory
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Irritable and more sensitive to feedback
  • Increased negativity and cynical outlook
  • Increased absenteeism

Rather than address the root cause of an employee’s burnout, companies believe they can reverse it by giving them more money, a new title or offering more fun perks. While this may be a short term solution, the root cause of the issue hasn’t been addressed and it will inevitably resurface.

Suzie Finch, founder of The Career Improvement Club, explained, “once an employee has lost the motivation, drive and trust of their employer it’s very hard to regain it back.” As such, the employee and company end up parting ways.

This is due to the employee growing resentful and leaving on their own accord, the employee becoming vocal about their grievances to the point of termination or the manager writing the employee off until they can push them out. Here are four ways employers can begin to address employee burnout.

Foster A Mental Health Friendly Culture

Tackling burnout is more than implementing a well-being program. It’s changing workplace habits, identifying root causes and utilizing leadership to set the tone moving forward. Employees look to their managers and leadership to learn the norms and acceptable behaviors of the workplace. Thus, leadership needs to be the champions of mental health and well-being. When employees see their manager work through lunch, not take PTO or work while on vacation, they assume they need to do the same as well. This perpetuates a culture of burnout.

In order to provide mental health support, employers need to seek the feedback of their employees to understand what’s creating the stress. Burnout can result from various factors such as an unmanageable workload, no support, an inflexible schedule, lack of expectations and role clarity, unrealistic deadlines, micromanaging and unfair treatment, to name a few.

Here are some ways employers can start to reverse burnout through mental health

  • Create a mental health strategy and actively promote to employees
  • Actively work to mitigate an overwhelming workload
  • Revisit workplace policies to create more flexibility for employees
  • Seek out Employee Assistance Program (EAP) details and share with employees
  • Encourage employees to take mental health breaks throughout the day at their own discretion
  • Host meditation or yoga sessions for employees to participate in
  • Empower employees to take control of their schedule and set boundaries
  • Encourage employees to use their vacation days
  • Create a safe space for employees to feel comfortable opening up to their manager when they’re struggling with their workload
  • Create open and transparent two-way communication

While this isn’t a conclusive list, it’s a start. Each workplace and employee situation is different. Most importantly, managers need to be mindful and observant for when employees are at their emotional edge. The worst thing companies can do is seek feedback and ignore it, make excuses for it or make false promises.

Embrace A Culture Of Emotion

Most companies abandon their own core values to avoid dealing with the emotional aspect of their employees. For example, companies tout putting their people first, yet they try to suppress any emotion that isn’t positive. By doing so, they believe they can create a culture where they can manage how employees feel and express themselves. However, the Harvard Business Review said, “most companies don’t realize how central emotions are to building the right culture.

They tend to focus on the cognitive culture: the shared intellectual values, norms, artifacts and assumptions that set the overall tone for how employees think and behave at work.” While that’s incredibly important, emotional culture is just as critical.

Companies who ignore or fail to understand how emotions contribute to the overall well-being of the culture will undoubtedly suffer as a result. Embracing a culture of emotion means creating a safe space where employees feel comfortable expressing their feelings, concerns and share when they’re struggling. Research shows that emotions influence an employee’s creativity, decision making, performance and overall commitment to the company. All of which impact the bottom line.

Ensure Employees Are Taken Care Of

While most burnout is due to experiences in the workplace, external influences are also a contributing factor. External stressors employees commonly face are financial problems, family and relationship issues, pet concerns, addiction, social disadvantages, discrimination, abuse, trauma, bereavement or personal health issues, to name a few.

Ensuring employees are taken care of means having the right programs and resources available to support them. This can be having an EAP, a mental health program such as Fringe, offering telebehavioral health benefits, having a personal coach available and more. Many companies are revising their benefits to now include dog walking, pet sitting and grocery delivery services to alleviate employee stress.

Ditch The Traditional 9-5

Expecting employees to work traditional working hours is quickly becoming an archaic practice. Companies are now shifting to more flexible schedules with established core working hours. Core working hours may be defined differently for each company but ultimately it’s when everyone must be present and available for meetings. Outside of those core working hours, managers have the trust and expectation that employees will complete what’s expected of them when they’re most productive.

Managers are empowering employees more than ever to own their calendar through time-blocking. Rather than time-blocking an entire day or week out, Stacy Cyr, director of marketing at Barton Associates, recommends employees to build in 20% more time for meetings, deadlines and questions. Not only does this reduce stress, but it also gives a buffer for when things pop up throughout the day.

Likewise, no meeting days are becoming increasingly popular. While it may not be possible to block off an entire day, having the ability to have a meeting-free afternoon during the week is crucial for a deep work session without interruptions.

I’m a Leadership Coach & Workplace Culture Consultant at Heidi Lynne Consulting helping individuals and organizations gain the confidence to become better leaders for themselves and their teams. As a consultant, I deliver and implement strategies to develop current talent and create impactful and engaging employee experiences. Companies hire me to to speak, coach, consult and train their teams and organizations of all sizes. I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge working internationally in Europe, America and Asia.

I use my global expertise to provide virtual and in-person consulting and leadership coaching to the students at Babson College, Ivy League students and my global network. I’m a black belt in Six Sigma, former Society of Human Resources (SHRM) President and domestic violence mentor. Learn more at http://www.heidilynneco.com or get in touch at Heidi@heidilynneco.com.

Source: Employers, Here Are 4 Ways You Can Begin To Effectively Tackle Employee Burnout

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S Toker, S Melamed, S Berliner, D Zeltser… – Psychosomatic …, 2012 – journals.lww.com
Objective Burnout is a negative affective state consisting of emotional exhaustion, physical fatig.

The practical paradox of technology: The influence of communication technology use on employee burnout and engagement

CL Ter Hoeven, W van Zoonen… – Communication …, 2016 – nca.tandfonline.com
Employees feel empowered by CTU because it allows them to establish a connection to their …
resources (JD–R) model to link the literature on paradoxes to employee well-being … job conditions
(job resources and demands) influence feelings of work-related burnout and work

What Should We Do About Digital Fatigue

Digital fatigue – referring to mental exhaustion from overuse of digital technologies – is by no means a new phenomenon. However, over the past year, it has become an overwhelming contributing factor in poor mental health and wellbeing in employees.

Since the start of the pandemic, screen time has increased dramatically as employees have joined endless Zoom meetings and felt pressure to work harder than ever before while remote. But outside of work, employees are also having to use devices to check the news, connect with loved-ones, and even to relax and unwind.

Another contributing factor in the current environment is the fact that employees are reluctant to take time off, and instead holding onto their leave in the hope of using it once lockdowns are lifted. The irony is that time off is even more crucial during these anxious times

This digital fatigue has coincided with unprecedented challenges from the pandemic, and major political uncertainty and social justice movements across the world. Employees are emotionally drained and at least 55% have reported dreading another day on the job. Businesses cannot afford to ignore this problem.

There is a variety of ways to tackle the issue, some may involve the following:

  • Enforcing a temporary camera-off policy
  • The happiness-index of walking meetings
  • Baked in screen breaks to calendars
  • The imperative for variety

What kind of impact is winter in lockdown having on digital fatigue?

There is no doubt that lockdown in winter is very different to the lockdown we experienced in summer and is contributing to an increase in digital fatigue.

In the summer months, we were more likely to step away from our screens to enjoy the longer days and brighter weather. However, there was also a big psychological difference in that the pandemic was new, and we were hopeful there would be a rapid return to normal.

Lockdown working

In the current lockdown, employees are spending more hours looking at screens due to the dark, cold weather outside. The roll-out of the vaccine programme has given some optimism, but it is arguably resulting in increased screen time as people check for updates.

The problem we have is that companies have been slow to move off a crisis-footing and adjust processes to actually support employees in what has become their new reality.

What can businesses to do to reduce digital fatigue and support employees?

Businesses need to find ways to help employees break the monotony of being in front of a computer all day and there are a number of options they could explore.

One of the biggest factors behind digital fatigue is the amount of time employees are spending on video conferencing calls. We are seeing some companies trying to tackle this by having audio-only meetings on certain days, meaning employees don’t need to be staring at a screen. This tactic can be effective when combined with encouragement to go for a walk or do another activity such as yoga or cooking.

Another contributing factor in the current environment is the fact that employees are reluctant to take time off, and instead holding onto their leave in the hope of using it once lockdowns are lifted. The irony is that time off is even more crucial during these anxious times. Businesses should encourage employees to use holiday, or even think about rolling-out blanket mental health days.

Employees are also suffering from the pressure to appear always-on while working remotely. Leaders should actively encourage flexibility in the hours people work, giving clear permission for employees to take longer lunch breaks or finish early when they need to.

Driving productivity and maintaining wellbeing is not a zero-sum game. By encouraging flexibility, time off and respect of mental health, businesses can energise employees and better equip them to perform in these challenging times.

Brian Kropp

 

By

 

Source: What should we do about digital fatigue? – Personnel Today

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Financial Targets Don’t Motivate Employees

Would you be excited if your boss started a meeting saying: “I want to remind you that you’re a cog in a machine whose primary purpose is to hit our financial targets”?

It’s hard to imagine that you would feel much joy or pride of ownership in your work if your contribution was reduced to your financial output. While this specific wording may be a bit exaggerated, it’s not a far departure from the message that many employees hear on a daily basis.

As we move into what (we hope) will be a growth period, it’s natural for leaders to emphasize the importance of hitting financial targets. Financial performance is crucial, of course. But making numbers the centerpiece of your leadership narrative is a costly mistake.

Financial results are an outcome, not a root driver for employee performance. A growing body of evidence tells us that overemphasizing financial targets erodes morale and undermines long-term strategy. When a leader spends the majority of their airtime on a “make the numbers” narrative, it creates a transactional relationship with their employees, making them more likely to create transactional relationships with their teammates and customers.

The events of 2020 remind us: Employee engagement is the lifeblood of an organization. What your team thinks, feels, and believes about your organization, and their own work, drives their behavior — and their behavior is what determines your success or failure.

Leaders seeking to ignite creativity and drive exponential effort must go upstream, using their time with their teams to build belief in the organizational purpose, the intrinsic value of the employees’ work, and the impact the teams have on customers, and each other. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Evaluate your leadership “airtime.”

When Mike Gianoni took over as the CEO of SaaS firm Blackbaud, he flipped the way they conduct town halls. Previous leaders spent the majority of their airtime sharing financial results. Gianoni took a different approach. He began using his time to discuss the impact Blackbaud was having on customers, and he directed his leaders to do the same.

“Shifting our airtime from internal metrics to customer outcomes jump-started the next level of customer empathy and value,” explains Blackbaud President and GM Patrick Hodges. “Over time, your attrition goes down. When people feel good about what they do and they’re more successful, they’re not going to look for another job.”

We recommend leaders aim for a 50/50 split, spending at least half their leadership airtime building belief in the meaning and external impact of the work, and half on internal metrics and deliverables. It’s not without coincidence that six months after Blackbaud adjusted their leadership airtime, they had an innovation breakthrough, employee engagement rose dramatically, market share increased, and revenue grew exponentially.

2. Discuss individual customers with emotion and specificity.

The more clearly an employee understands their direct impact, the more likely they are to go the extra mile; they also experience greater fulfillment in doing so.

Consider this research from organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who studied paid employees at a public university call center who were hired to solicit donations to the school from alumni. He divided the team into two groups. One group went about their day as usual, phoning potential donors. The other group, before jumping on the phones, had a short conversation with a scholarship student, someone who was able to get an education because of donations that the call center produced. After a month, callers who had spoken with the scholarship recipient spent more than two times as many minutes on the phone, and brought in vastly more money: a weekly average of $503.22, up from $185.94.

The same findings have been echoed in studies of lifeguards, hospital workers, and sales teams. When we know our work matters to an individual person, we rise to the occasion. Discussing customers in the aggregate does not create the same emotional pull. Instead, when you speak about customers, even if your team does not interact with them directly, use their real names, talk about the businesses they have, and show your team that real people are counting on them.

3. Resist the pull of the “FYI.” 

In our consulting practice we routinely observe well-intended leaders who in an effort “to keep their team informed” pass along everything that pertains to financial performance. It’s natural, because the gravitational pull of most organizations leans towards the numbers; it’s what gets reported and thus it’s routinely forwarded down.

But when a leader send their team decks filled with financial targets employees are often left to their own devices to figure out how to translate broader financial goals into their daily behavior. It’s confusing at best, dispiriting at worst.

Emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman says, “A primary task of leadership is to direct attention. To do so, leaders must learn to focus their own attention.” Instead of routinely hitting forward on every financial report, think about where you want to direct the attention of your team.

You can decide what to share and what not to share by asking yourself questions like: What does my team need to be thinking about on a daily basis to accomplish these goals? How do I want them to behave with customers and each other? Filter out the noise coming from other places in the organization and focus your language on the two things that are 100% within the control of your team: their mindset and their behavior.

The research is telling us what we already knew in our hearts to be true: You cannot spreadsheet your way to passion. With ambitious goals on the horizon, it’s tempting to double-down on financial metrics. But hitting financial targets requires employees who are excited and care about their work.

As we face a future of potential uncertainty and unrest, it’s crucial for leaders to help their teams stay engaged. You can improve your team’s performance (and their emotional well-being) by making sure your airtime, your metrics, and your language communicate one simple message: Your work matters.

How to Reduce Tech-Related Stress for Customers and Employees

How to Reduce Tech-Related Stress for Customers and Employees

Your ability to become a successful company of the future depends on developing a cultural mindset that is focused on creating value for the people inside and outside the organization. The myth that technology drives digital transformation has been an ongoing fairy tale because while technology is an important factor, there is another element to the equation that creates a strong dependency on the first — the people.

Technology in most ways has a positive effect on business operations, especially in the automation of admin processes that come with communication with customers. While artificial intelligence is getting to know your customers by analyzing their wants and needs, it also means collecting huge amounts of customer insights. Some other digital tools such as chatbots are being used to interact with customers instead of a customer service agent and in some exceptional cases, this works just fine.

The belief that these digital tools can improve customer engagement like a miracle is just an illusion however, despite offering an effective and efficient way to speak to large audiences. The reality is that these technologies are greatly designed to replicate some sort of friendliness but are simply not able to offer the much-needed level of human connection customers need.

Covid-19 has been a wake-up call for businesses and has aggressively fast forwarded digital adoptions in working practices that most companies were not ready to take on. They were forced to send employees home who had to deal with the implementation and usage of new digital tools, something that should have progressively happened years ago.

According to research carried out by Mckinsey, it would have taken businesses more than a year to implement the level of remote working that was enforced as a result of the crisis. Despite the advantages of the nature of these digital technologies, the sudden change led to huge gaps of acceptance among the workforce and this is because employees have different needs, challenges and technical proficiency.

Employees and customers are often slow to adapt to new ways of doing things so now it’s time to ask yourself: What can I do to reduce the tech stress of my customers and employees and make their lives easier? I suggest two main things to consider:

1. Focus on the people.

Digitalization has many different positive aspects, but the more digital your business becomes the less human touch it can provide. Customers today expect more human interactions and less automated interactions. The role of new tech should make the life of your employees easier and ultimately highly complement their tasks so that they can focus on the emotional side of customer relationships.

The rush for easily monetizable consumer automated interactions makes it clear for customers that a brand is not authentically engaging with them. A Harvard Business Review study shows that companies are becoming increasingly impersonal by automating as many customer touchpoints as possible. In a highly digitalised world the human factor in customer experience gives your business a distinct competitive edge. The latest technology gets prioritised too often over authentic customer engagement.

First and foremost you should create an authentic and trusted customer relationship and then with the consent of your customers, use the technology available (predictive analytics and machine learning) to personalise the interactions with them. Not the other way around.

2. Reassess your digital initiatives.

As you’ve been experimenting with a huge number of virtual operations and interactions since before the pandemic started, you now have the opportunity to assess which technologies are extremely needed and which are not. The world of business is changing, some things will go back to previous ways, while others will remain changed forever.

You might think that using many different business tools to automate and improve processes will skyrocket productivity. However, switching between too many apps has some side effects such as lower productivity, higher costs and lack of collaboration in teams, to name a few. Developing a digital state of mind requires you to engage, educate and provide continuous support to your employees.

Low employee stress levels and making sure their experience remains positive throughout are as important as deciding which new technology to adopt. Digital transformation should have your people at the core because your people will be those who will make a successful transformation happen.

As I’m writing my book on customer-centricity, I find it imperative that companies find the right balance between the use of technology and human interactions. The challenge of the future is not whether artificial intelligence will replace people’s jobs but rather how to create a business culture in which technology and employees are able to walk hand-in-hand to provide human-driven customer experiences.

Ilenia Vidili

 

By: Ilenia Vidili / Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

 

Source: How to Reduce Tech-Related Stress for Customers and Employees

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