2022 is the time to work with your workforce.
By Gianna Driver, CHRO, Exabeam
We are currently at a tipping point in more ways than one. Whether the global pandemic personally impacted your life via the loss of a job or illness or not, your life and the industry you work (or worked) in has been impacted in some way.
This new normal we are all still working to navigate can continue to spread less than desired emotions and outcomes, like fear, instability and labor shortages – or it can create space for growth, stability and contentment. Organizations and leaders who lean into this new normal and work with, rather than against, their workforce will be the ones who come out on top.
According to the most recent public data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 4.5 million workers in the U.S. have either left or switched jobs. Digging deeper, Harvard Business Review reports resignation rates are highest among mid-career employees, with a 20% increase in resignations by people between the ages of 30 and 45. This is a targeted and experienced group of people looking for change.
While remote and hybrid work models were a trend long before the pandemic, naturally the volume has increased exponentially. According to a recent report, it is estimated that 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025, that represents 22% of the overall workforce—a staggering 87% increase from the number of remote workers prior to the pandemic. In this new normal, companies need to lean into this trend otherwise they will be left in the dust.
Embracing a remote-friendly hybrid approach is encouraged when it comes to retaining and attracting talent, and it is a practice we have adopted as well. We encourage employees who live near an office to work from the office one day each week. We suggest Wednesday as the day for critical mass, but ultimately allow for employee discretion. So far, this is working out well.
Companies are finding there are widely differing preferences among employees when it comes to remote work and flexibility. It’s hard to find a silver-bullet or perfect approach, so it is critical for organizations to craft inclusive policies that embrace a diverse culture and allow for flexibility while holding employees accountable.
As with all approaches, there are challenges to flexibility and remote work that are sometimes forgotten. The good news is, however, there are ways to ease them and make all employees feel important and included.
For employees who come into the office, part of the appeal is having “watercooler conversations” with executives and peers. Implicit in these encounters is that some may have more executive-access than others. We mitigate this by having multiple channels and ways employees can access executives online and in-person. From Town Halls, All Hands, virtual coffees and more, we’ve attempted to mitigate the asymmetry in access.
In boundaryless work, people work synchronously and asynchronously. This means that team meetings and events where collaboration and brainstorming are needed become harder to coordinate. We address this by having team meetings scheduled in advance and alternate meeting times so everyone can experience interactive sessions that are conducive to their time zone – critical in combating burnout and strengthening team bonds.
Inclusion and Team-Building
In remote work settings, it can be hard to have all voices heard on calls and challenging to build culture and team spirit through a computer screen. We address these challenges by having fun, culture-creating activities that employees can do remotely. For example:
- Hands-on virtual sessions – Order terrarium supplies and send them to each person’s home or do a cocktail making class, just to name a couple of ideas we’ve pursued ourselves. Someone hosts, and then you can have a team experience doing something creative and different together. We are intentional to have these events a minimum of every two months.
- Unconscious Bias Training – This includes modules around remote workers and helping them feel included. Actions like creating space and silence for remote employees to open up and share their thoughts about topics helps those dialing in feel like they are part of the team.
- Philanthropic Day – Create events for in-person gatherings, as well as virtual events where remote teams can join to give back. Some examples include virtually reading to children, and creating care packages for those in need.
Now more than ever, leaders in all industries have a unique opportunity to attract and retain the right talent. Specifically from a cybersecurity perspective, according to a 2021 Cybersecurity Workforce study by (ISC)2 the cybersecurity industry currently needs 2.72 million workers worldwide. There are nearly 900,000 cybersecurity professionals in the U.S., with nearly 400,000 unfilled jobs. Embracing the remote and hybrid work model can help to shorten this skills gap.
Understanding employee sentiment, keeping the lines of communication open and conscious listening are all critical skill sets that will set you apart from the rest. Engage with your employees. Incorporate polls and surveys and allow yourself to be open to feedback. Let employees tell you what is working and what is not. Polling your remote team is an important part of the process to ensure you are actively listening to their ideas, and that you are trying to find ways to help them feel more included.
A growth mindset, where learning is embraced and iteration is normal, is critical to success in this new working environment. Organizations that listen and work with employees to incorporate their feedback into their practices will be those who ultimately win the war for talent in this new era.