Thursday Thoughts

It’s an Employee’s Market

Akin to the housing market, which is currently in the seller’s favor; our employment market is in the employee’s favor. 

Blackberry, Blockbuster, and Kodak have one thing in common―they weren’t future-ready. The businesses didn’t listen to the diversification of thought and their fate was the same as the dinosaurs. As workplaces reassess whether or not to bring their employees back in person, keep in mind that this might be the evolution of the workplace indefinitely. 

It is important to point out that remote work is ideal for some roles and some are done better in person. Defaulting to one extreme or the other invites problems. Especially when 90% of employees want flexibility in when and where they work according to Ernst and Young. Additionally, a University of Chicago study found that roughly 40% of Americans surveyed who were working at home said they would look for another job if their employer forced them to return to the office full time. 

Be careful with your workplace productivity biases. Prodoscore Inc. found employees were overall more productive and worked longer hours in 2020 than in 2019. Additionally, workers feel between 11% and 19% more comfortable taking risks when they are hybrid or fully remote.

Lastly, note that 82% of employees feel HIGH ANXIETY about returning to work. If you are reintegrating into the office, make sure to create buy-in and continue to be empathetic. 

How to thoughtfully bring back your employees:

  • Most importantly – treat them as professionals. 
  • Interview and celebrate what did and didn’t work, and what would be effective going forward. 
  • Ask employees to reflect on when their performance was at its best. When people are asked to highlight their strengths, they go on to deliver higher levels of performance and exhibit more zest and excitement for their job.
  • Offer mental and emotional support. Suppressing emotions reduces employees’ resilience. 
  • By communicating and working with your employees, you will gain respect and employees will be proud to work for you.
  • Don’t reward people for their presence but rather on the work itself.

How to foster community and belonging while staying remote:

  • Set up specific zoom protocols. You can make zoom entertaining and interactive. This could look different for each team. Raise hands, make a funny noise when it’s your time to talk, do a little dance when they have something to say, have a super-secret handshake when you agree with an idea. The list is endless. Learn how to integrate play, fun, and joy into your technology. It is not a waste of time, it is a community-building endeavor that will create more buy-in and reduce zoom fatigue.
  • Get off the computer and use conference calls, if necessary. How many times have your great ideas occurred while moving around? MANY! Think about that morning run or the lunchtime walk; chances are you were innovating.
  • Set up meeting times with small groups to harness creativity and collaboration. If you fear losing the spontaneity of creativity, then explicitly set up times for your teams to meet in person. Don’t just say, “You have to be in the office every day.” Passing someone on the way to the break room doesn’t scream “CREATE!” like you’re hoping it will.
  • You could always develop an office of Sheldons…

Key takeaway: Inspired by great leaders, people contribute their best to your team’s success even when no one is watching. ~ Christopher Kolenda

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