We are in the midst of a major shift in the workforce.
The pandemic has caused a massive shift from shared office spaces to remote working. As people spent time at home and faced a myriad of intense stressors and even direct losses, they re-evaluated what was important to their careers.
Because of this, we saw four million people leave their jobs in July 2021, and a record 10.9 million jobs remain open. You may also have seen the disturbing statistic that up to 95% of the workforce is considering leaving their current business right now.
Companies looking to recruit and retain the best employees are advised to take action in light of this grand resignation. However, the answers may not be found in large signing bonuses or hasty returns to office collaboration.
The key is to dig even deeper into the technology that got us through this pandemic.
The pandemic as an unfortunate but powerful catalyst
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed the status quo and businesses have had to go virtual, digitally-centric and agile faster than they could have imagined.
According to a McKinsey global executive survey, companies took an average of just 11 days to transition to remote work – 40 times faster than they thought possible. Companies have also adopted digital technologies to advance their operations and decision-making 25 times faster than expected.
The pandemic disruption removed (sometimes artificial) barriers to the adoption of new technology and made it imperative that companies continue to invest in technology to support, grow and prosper.
Now let’s take it a step further: If we can leverage technology to get our businesses through a global pandemic, absolutely we can do the same to keep our employees happy and engaged.
1. Explore the tools you already have
Companies dove into collaboration tools out of necessity during the pandemic with the very practical goal of keeping operations at bay. With that hurdle cleared, it’s time to refocus our efforts from pure functionality to connection, culture and engagement.
My team, for example, has been using Slack for almost all of our internal communications and collaborations since 2017. Back then, our main focus was on reducing email fatigue (which 38% of employees at office, is likely to cause them to quit their jobs). .
Once the pandemic hit, we needed this platform to do more onerous tasks for us. Some of the changes we’ve made include:
-Create new forums (channels) for conversation on everything from the pandemic itself to how best to deliver value to our remote customers, to social injustice and unlearning biases.
-Added new integrations, including more convenient HR tools that “show” who’s away when you can’t physically see your team, and fun tools like the Donut bot which matches employees at random and facilitates conversations.
-Learn and take advantage of ongoing developments in the package, such as the “huddle” function and direct messaging with external organizations.
– Double the use of our few mandatory channels for clear communication on evolving policies, amplifying team accomplishments and, perhaps most importantly, soliciting feedback.
Of course, keep in mind that just providing tools is never enough; you also need to provide your team with the training to take full advantage of it, along with the safety and opportunity to do so. It’s a place where the active participation (and modeling) of your leadership team can make a big difference.
2. Evaluate your technology through the lens of individual experience and fairness
When it comes to engagement, 42% of employees say their peers have the most influence. We have also (fortunately) entered a phase where employees will not stand what they perceive to be unfair treatment.
It is then up to employers to focus on how employees experience their day-to-day work and whether they feel connected to their team and heard as an individual.
Take a regular service meeting, for example. Suppose your new hybrid setup has half the department in your office and the other half at home. Do teleworkers have equivalent means to participate in the meeting itself? In the more casual chatter that takes place before and after? Can they clearly hear who is speaking and when to intervene? Can they read and complete the notes taken? Do they have the same ability to run tracking items?
Unbalanced interactions like this are subtle, but over time they will erode the connection and leave some teammates feeling alienated. Identify places where you might unintentionally create loopholes and use this pandemic-inspired technological trust to fix them. Some common areas of improvement are:
-A better conference room setup with revolutionary tools like the Vibe Whiteboard and Poly Studio soundbar / camera.
-Better home office setup with external cameras and speakers as needed, allowance for better internet bandwidth, additional monitors, etc.
-Standardize on a document co-creation solution such as SharePoint or Google Docs.
-Train your managers to choose the most inclusive meeting and collaboration formats rather than the most practical.
Any new tool you add will require, you guessed it, some training!
3. Make sure your digital presence reflects your priorities
My last point is that of visibility. If your business is making great strides in doing good for your team, do them and your business a favor by giving talented job seekers enough insight to want to join you.
The questions to consider are:
-Does our online presence (website, social media) show – and not – our commitment to our employees?
-Do our online employee reviews paint a clear picture?
-Do our job descriptions capture our values in a way an outsider would understand? Are we explicit about the policy and benefits of remote working?
-Does our hiring process reflect our culture? Does it combine the responsiveness of automation with empathy?
In part, this involves the thoughtful use of specific technological tools. For example, we have had great success with Bamboo HR in digitizing, securing, streamlining and humanizing our recruitment and onboarding processes.
But a big part of that is the evolution of the digitization of our office-related corporate cultures. First and foremost, we make sure that all employees, regardless of their location, are connected and integrated into our culture. Then we take it outside and let all the talent know what we’re bringing to the table.
And the more we can get our current employees to tell our story online, the better: not only do most applicants inherently trust individuals rather than brands, but it also strengthens engagement with those employees.
It is true that the Great Resignation and the current labor shortage will not last forever; people who want to change jobs or careers now will make those changes, and eventually the waves will set in.
The question is, which organizations will come out on the other side with their high performing employees intact and with a few new star players (whose previous employers weren’t savvy enough to keep them) on board.
If you want it to be yours, keep the momentum going. Technological competence and the creative use of the right tools at the right time will allow your team to forge strong bonds, no matter where they are physically located.
There are few competitive advantages as powerful as this.
Heinan Landa is the Founder and CEO of Optimal Networks, Inc., a Rockville, MD-based IT company that helps law firms and associations achieve measurable business results through thoughtful technology advice and technical assistance. For three decades, customers have turned to Optimal when they spend too much time supervising their IT team, worry about their data security, or fear their technology doesn’t provide the mobility or flexibility their customers expect. employees and their customers. For more, www.optimalnetworks.com, 240-499-7900, or [email protected]