In our recent webinar, 2021 Workforce Trends and What They Mean for Your Development Strategy in 2022, we discussed the results from our Workforce Trends Survey (access report here). Our panelists Mike Stuart of MadTree Brewing and Tom Johnson of Ocado made some outstanding observations worth capturing and sharing.
Two dominant themes emerged, including
- the changing expectations of work by employees
- the strain of executing a business model (given the litany of challenges: pandemic, stay at home, labor shortage, increase in wages, inflation, supply chain disruptions, uneven global recovery from Covid, etc.)
As stated by Mike, expectations of work now include where one works (at a business location, WFH, hybrid) and why one works (work-life balance, employer social impact, etc.), and a sense of belonging. The pandemic caused others to ask themselves questions about what is most important in their lives and with whom, where, and why they live that life. Meanwhile, businesses are adapting to higher costs and tighter labor markets, which Tom discussed.
These trends are at odds with one another, at least most of the time. But like in all situations, success goes to those that can harmonize disparate forces.
One way to align these trends is to hire for fit. Don’t dismiss this as cliché, as that phrase has been around. What it signifies is that you must be well aware of what today’s expectations entail.
Today, a potential employee is attracted to the social issues embraced by a company and that their passion on the job and for these causes is supported by policies such as paid time to volunteer or cross-training so that they have a better sense of connection. This also means that employee benefits must be reconsidered (traditional and novel), and offering career development is crucial in attracting talent today. On the flip side, it was pointed out in the conversation that a company, even in a tight labor market, should not hesitate to part ways with an employee with whom there is not a good fit.
Another way to align these trends is a willingness to adapt your business model to our current situation. As pointed out in the webinar by Tom, it is still cheap to finance an investment in technology that can improve productivity and eliminate some of the tediousness of work.
Beyond adapting your business model, organizations also need to address how they manage. Do they have one language and point of view when it comes to managing? Do all managers know and practice the difference between managing and coaching (a distinction made by Mike)? Do all managers address differences in the same way? Or are some teams better led than others, and is there division and deteriorating employee engagement within your team members? Turnover, difficulty in recruiting, etc., are bad, but they are symptoms of much worse problems.
Mike and Tom pointed out how technology can allow you to survey or take the pulse of your employees in an efficient way that can give you a lot of data. But it’s what you do next that is important. The survey is not an end to itself but a means to having better manager-led conversations. Managers need to have regular one-on-one meetings, to communicate effectively and often, to be emphatic, and able to lead a team through change and disruption.
My final thought… both the results of the Workforce Trends Survey and this webinar-based conversation point to the necessity of having the right leadership development program. Replace thoughts that this will happen once we return to “normal” to asking how to facilitate development that is resilient to disruption of your business and effective in results. If these are challenges that you are facing, let’s talk. We would love to have a conversation about our Accelerator™ leadership development program.