In our survey, many employers said they’ve implemented—or are working to implement—programs to boost retention: flexible schedules, remote offices, better work-life balance… But despite these efforts, they told us they have concerns, one of them being trust, particularly with remote employees.
Companies can’t lead from a place of fear. If you’re hiring people to do a job, you need to trust them to do their job. Trust is a huge component of employee engagement, and it goes both ways. If leaders (at any level) want the trust of their subordinates, they need to extend the same trust back.
In terms of the specifics in your survey, there’s a two-year Stanford study that shows the stunning productivity boost of working from home. Those employees tended to be more productive than the ones who went into the office, and they cited reasons that they weren’t as distracted, they found it easier to concentrate and they enjoyed the flexibility. The remote employees also took shorter breaks, fewer sick days and less time off. And then there’s the smaller carbon footprint, something many companies are trying to achieve.
I believe, however, that there’s a responsibility for the company to make sure that any remote workforce feels included. You have to have communication parameters in place, such as Zoom meetings, to bring them into the day-to-day fold. I also think that companies micro-manage a lot of remote workers too. There’s this very large company where employees, most of whom are graduate level professionals, work remotely because that’s the structure of the company. The company installed a feature in their software that is supposed to increase productivity by monitoring whether employees are moving their mouse within a certain number of minutes. In a tight job market, employers cannot afford to drive good people away with bad practices.
What’s the one thing that employers can’t afford to overlook in the near term to remain competitive in this talent war?
On the customer side, when you gain a new client, you want them to remain your client. The same should apply to employees; you really want to hire for the long term. You don’t want a revolving door. Turnover costs are just too high. So, you need to recruit well and give them conditions where they can learn, adapt and thrive, embracing the company mission you are hopefully putting forth. Learning and development is a big part of that. Employees want opportunities to advance. Many of the jobs that companies are going to need to recruit for even 10 years from now haven’t been invented yet. You can’t plan for an employee base for jobs that aren’t defined. For high demand skills, it will be too late to wait until you need them to recruit. A more advantageous approach is to provide the right learning and development conditions and invest in people that want to grow and adapt along with your mission.
Also, companies need to focus on being more flexible with the types of benefits or offerings they provide as part of an employment package. Because this very diverse set of workers, across different age ranges, want different things. Companies typically offer a core package, but they also need to give latitude with different things that they can offer to people, whether it’s remote working or the opportunity to advance or the opportunity to receive student debt paydown or healthcare debt paydown, things like that. Companies need to be a little more creative in what they offer.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give CEOs struggling with talent that they can implement immediately?
They need to collaborate and communicate with their leadership team to create the workforce change they need within their organization. The talent issue is not human resources’ alone to solve. Talent challenges today require a strategic 360-degree approach, which means that HR can lead the way from their human capital vantage point, but it really is going to take an all-hands-on deck approach. Start with a collaboration core of the CEO, the CFO, the CHRO and the chief communications officer, and then based on the interdependencies within the company bring in the domains that make sense. One example is that you have to market to employees with the same creativity as you do with customers. Your external and internal brands must align. That means bringing in marketing to collaborate with HR on that. Siloed problem solving will not work. Another example is senior management should take a strategic eye to re-evaluating the many platforms they use and see if they can be re-purposed for finding, attracting and retaining the people they need for success.
To gain fresh perspectives and new strategies to overcome the talent challenge today and in the future, don’t miss the opportunity to network with peers and learn from industry experts at our upcoming CEO Talent Summit in West Point on September 23-25.