I recently wrote an article about the significance of this moment we are in, because of the pandemic. Many of us, for the first time, were forced to look at our lives and do some reflection. It is a moment to see what matters, what fulfills us, and what is redundant. If we miss this moment, it is very likely that we will get busy (the disease of our times) again. This being busy will be the excuse to protect the status quo, stay in our comfort zone even if it does not serve us, even if we know deep down, some things have to change. Let’s seize this opportunity is what I am suggesting.
This time I want to reach out to leaders, C-level executives, Founders.
Please watch and listen to what is happening around you and in the world. Please take the time to listen to what your people are saying about the changes they need in the workplace and how and where to work. Commanding everyone to return to the office and spend 8-12 hours there every day is not going to work this time. We need some hybrid solutions. Face-to-face time is precious, we all know the benefits. Do people really need it every day though?
The remote work concept did not start because of Covid-19. People were demanding this flexibility for a long time. The pandemic just accelerated the pace of this change and brought all the evidence to the surface that it is indeed possible for the majority of jobs. We did not try this for a month or two, we tried this for 15 months now. It works.
People love that they do not waste time commuting; there are cost savings; they can take care of their children when needed; they can be around their pets; they can find jobs in other parts of the country or even in the world. Some of these reasons may not seem so important to you and you may say you worked without all this and were fine but these are the needs of today, not the past.
Calculate the risk you are taking if you make this decision solely on your own. 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. It already started; people are quitting their job if they are not offered flexibility.
You will lose your people in the long run even if they feel like they have to obey your command now. Unhappy people, people who are forced to do things they do not believe in are never productive. In studies by the Queen’s School of Business and by the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In organizations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time.
Their eye is on the next job.
More than one in four (26%) workers set to quit their job in search of a new challenge as confidence returns to the economy as was shared in a recent article.
You cannot keep your best talent by paying more either. Maybe for a while, but not in the long run.
So please read all the research, listen to your people, do surveys where they can stay anonymous and tell the truth. They know what they are talking about. They are adults. They know what is best for them and the company.
- Do not think short-term.
- Give your people the autonomy to make their own decision.
- Give them freedom and flexibility to work at their own schedule, at the place they feel productive as long as they deliver the results.
- Give them the big vision.
- Give them the chance to find purpose in what they do.
A World Economic Forum article refers to Deloitte’s steps Reflect, Recommit, Re-engage, Rethink and Reboot that has been discussed since September of 2020 in this article. You will see in the diagram that Purpose is right at the center. People need a why to come to work other than just making money. The article also adds “At the core of these steps is the idea that it’s important for leaders to take time to pause and listen to voices from across their organizations, as part of a more ‘human-centered’ approach to workforce management.” Same suggestions are offered to leaders, wherever you look.
You will be rewarded if you do the right thing. People will be loyal. They will feel proud to work for you. The companies that already had this type of culture have done amazing before, during, and now as we approach the days of after-Covid. (Wait for my series, where I will highlight them all.) This is the ONLY way forward when you pay attention to what Millennials and Gen Z are asking. They are getting to be the biggest workforce soon. You cannot move forward denying their needs and wants.
- Please do not go back.
- Please do a re-alignment of the priorities.
- Please do not deny what we all witnessed.
- Please do the right thing.
- Please capture the moment with its teachings.
- And embrace the change with your people’s help.
This is the only way for a better future: for thriving organizations with capable, passionate, purposeful, fulfilled human beings!