Microsoft’s new Work Trend Index Report reveals one major theme: we’re not the same people that went home to work in early 2020.
As leaders tackle hybrid work, big questions loom: What is the role of the office? How do teams build social capital in a digital-first world? Every organization is up against meeting employees’ great new expectations head-on while balancing business outcomes in an unpredictable economy.
We’re sharing three ways leaders can help improve the hybrid work employee experience including upskilling managers, reinvigorating culture, and developing team agreements.
According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Report, the Great Reshuffle is far from over and employees everywhere are rethinking their “worth it” equation by voting with their feet. In fact, 52% of Gen Z and Millennials are likely to consider changing employers this year, up 3% points year-over-year. In the year ahead, many hybrid employees (51%) say they will consider a switch to remote, and even more remote employees (57%) say they’ll consider a switch to hybrid.
In a recent Steelcase webinar, Jill Dark, VP of Talent Futures at Steelcase, noted that people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers. To prevent this from happening, leaders should invest time and effort into upskilling managers. Steps to get there include:
- Identifying relevant skills gaps
- Finding the time for employee training
- Budgeting enough money for learning and development programs
Learning and development programs might include additional training, mentoring, or exercises such as writing a letter from the shoes of their employee to put themselves in that person’s feet. Upskilling current team members to gain new skills will benefit the hybrid work employee experience and the business in the long run.
REINVIGORATE COMPANY CULTURE
Leaders have a new and urgent challenge in an uncertain economy and labor market: setting the standard for flexible work in a way that balances business outcomes with new employee expectations. In addition to this critical challenge leaders face, 54% of managers say they are out of touch with employees while 74% of managers say they don’t have the influence or resources to make change for employees.
To create a thriving organization and drive long-term growth, leaders must start by embracing flexibility and prioritizing employee wellbeing. This means connecting with employees on an emotional and professional level by showing them you care and that their voice matters. Steelcase recently performed a mural exercise with employees to reflect on everything that’s happened over the past year good and bad. They asked employees to share what they are grieving on the left-hand side while also sharing what they are hopeful about on the right:
An exercise like this can be beneficial for leaders, managers, and employees to all learn something new about each other. Once that trust is built, it’s important to use that connection to continue to build on company culture.
DEVELOP TEAM AGREEMENTS
Microsoft’s research identified that the biggest opportunity for business leaders is to reimagine the role of the office and create clarity around why, when, and how often teams should gather in person. In fact, 38% of hybrid employees say their biggest challenge is knowing when and why to come into the office.
To gain more clarity on setting a hybrid work structure, leaders and managers should be talking to their team about what agreements they want to make to have clarity around how they might best work together. Some examples on how to develop team agreements include:
- Availability – are there certain hours of the day that the team needs to be available, either in person or virtually (e.g., establishing core hours across the team, agreeing to response times for emails, questions, etc.)?
- Attendance – which key events do team members need to attend, either in person or virtually (e.g., daily stand-up meetings, weekly team meetings, etc.)?
- In-person expectations – be clear on the occasions where the team is expected to be together in person to achieve business results (e.g., quarterly team offsite, project kick off, etc.)
- Team habits – what are the daily practices that the team wants to adopt to ensure effective work in a hybrid environment (e.g., 55-minute meetings to ensure natural breaks are built into the day, sharing and respecting communication preferences (emails, calls, chat), etc.)?
“Hybrid work isn’t one-size-fits all; it means different things to different organizations,” said Bob Wilson, Vice President, Human Resources at Red Thread. “We’re currently working with managers to define the requirements and balance for each team. We recognize flexibility will need some boundaries and good judgment because coming together and working in person on a regular basis remains important to our business and our culture. Above all, the needs of our clients and internal teams are our top priority.”
Employee expectations have changed – from mental health and wellbeing to collaboration, connection, and innovation. Changing the physical office space can help meet these evolving needs, but taking these extra steps can also improve the overall hybrid work employee experience.