*Anywhere you see an asterisk indicates that we will be writing a future post about that subject.
We’ve seen and read all the press and blog coverage about the “mass resignation”. We can’t count the number of posts and newspaper articles that paraphrase each other. We’ll discuss the reality of the great resignation and the so called causes in another post.*
It will be fun, we promise!
This post is not about why your most accomplished employees are resigning to pursue a more meaningful existence.*
This post is not about how compensation needs to be aligned with productivity and value.*
This post is not about benefits and the right suite of offerings. *
This post is about small changes you can make so that your motivated employees have the resources and flexibility to be their best and set their own value. Don’t let them think you don’t care.
Yes you can accomplish this with just a small bit of thought and planning.
You can take a few steps immediately which we share below.
It’s the type of thought and planning that makes your employees think “This Company cares about me.” (Which is what this post IS about)
(Treating them as cogs says you don’t care. Enabling their best value for your company shows that you care btw.)
And guess what? The first component is work flexibility.
1. Normal Work hours make sense.
Generally, yes. But not the way you may be thinking about it. Your employees need to be available to you and each other during consistent time slots. The reason: they can leverage one another’s expertise and ideas to improve their overall industry, their company, to upgrade their ability to solve problems and to update their product or services knowledge. That we all agree on. Here is a suggested time slot: 10:00am to 2:00pm. However you may be kind to them and change that time slot for say Fridays before a holiday weekend (9:00am – 1:00pm) or Fridays in the summer months.
What does being available mean? Minimally by Slack or Teams chat. Generally by Video Conference. In a pinch, by Smartphone phone / FaceTime / Google Duo. Be absolute about this as a manager. Lead by example or risk a time slot free for all.
Pro Hint: Limit all conversations with co-workers to 15 minutes during the 10:00am – 2:00 pm time slot.
Wait what about lunch? While there needs to be some compromise, the hybrid / remote culture can’t have it all. The “no commute”, “1 hour mid-day lunch break”, “done every day by 5:00pm” fantasy? We’ve found this combo doesn’t work in the hybrid / remote work world.
BUT you have hired these people because they can be great, accomplished employees & Team Members and therefore be productive and manage themselves for a few hours. Lack of flexibility and trust signals you don’t care.
So give them the opportunity to manage their own schedules. That’s real workplace flexibility. That shows you care and also conveys trust in their professional skills.
No sit back and see what happens – just be quick to pull back on the reins using friendly communication.
2. Personal relationships in an office environment are important.
Trust or its opposite (doubt or mistrust) are each crucial in business – with clients, sure, but internally even more so. Without a true understanding of your team members, their motivators or their deterrents, people can not perform at their best – or at least the best possible within their organization.
The only way to achieve this trust of lack or mistrust in co-workers is in person. It’s the human condition. We need to shake hands, communicate over coffee, learn about each other so that we can feel comfortable in a work environment.
We’ve heard rumors that a full remote company can accomplish this community feeling. But we haven’t actually seen it. Our conclusion, this community work environment built on trust really doesn’t happen in a fully remote work environment.
Our Employees won’t be productive over the long term.
Really, Define Productive……
“During an 8 hour workday, the average worker only spends 4 hours and 12 minutes actively working”.
We agree to a point.
How many times have you heard people say, “I get my best ideas working out or In the shower?” When you are required to be in an office 8 hours a day you need to disconnect from the work to reset your mind to the task at hand. In this way, surfing the internet is actually productive. It can remove the noise that comes with menial tasks and allow your brain to flow freely again. Somehow surfing the internet at work became a bad thing. Somehow, not being productive for 8 hours straight (less bathroom and lunch breaks) became a bad thing.
Keeping this in mind and indulging a bit of in office work disconnecting is another way of showing your team that you care.* (Yes, we agree there are limits. You are the manager. You make the call what those limits are.)
“Productive” has a different requirement by position, by company, by industry. Here is what we know, you define productive by a the weekly, monthly or quarterly performance of your top 5 employees in a team, division, group, product line. Then use their average as a benchmark for their peer employees to match.
So the real question becomes…
How much time needs to be spent in the office to achieve the level of trust that makes people the best or most productive they can be in a company?
The short answer is no one knows. But everyone seems to believe trust among colleagues is a must. This is another subject you can find 100+ blog posts that say the same thing. Here are a few links to the better ones in case you are curious:
If you don’t have trust, it’ll be more difficult to communicate and coordinate with your peers or colleagues.
The consequences of a lack of trust can be significant, impacting employee productivity, engagement and ultimately retention.
Trust takes a long time and much effort to develop, but only one event to diminish it or eliminate it completely.
Here is the simple answer – you need to find time to build trust and this can only truly happen in an in-person environment.
3. Full Remote Doesn’t Really Mean 100% Remote.
If you are a hybrid or full time remote company – make certain that everyone knows that “every other Thursday” they must be in the office. No excuses. That the day will be project discussions, policy discussions and communal lunches and coffee, plus after work drop-ins at a coffee shop or other nearby positive location. It’s once every other week and will go a long way in creating friends from groups of Zoom / Teams associates.
Pro Hint: Plan it intelligently. If an in-office meeting requires 60 minutes, make it 90 minutes with 30 minutes of coffee/tea/water chat time in 10-15 minute increments to break up the lectures.
Just remember that employees think that meetings generally last too long and waste a lot of productivity time.*
Your Employees will value the time together and the in-office days will feel like field trips.
- They want to be treated as adults.
- They are accomplished and competent that’s why you hired them.
This means schedule no more than half of the in-office day time for meetings. Leave 50% or more for their own work or co-worker discussions / socializing. Once they are in the office provide lunch, coffee, snacks, you name it. They should have no reason to leave except to attend the 5:00pm out of office drop in. This last part should be scheduled and nearly required. It is important to build your office community.
More on why these simple steps are important
Since you will rarely pay them their worth*, let them decide from where they want to work and from where they want to deliver their worth to you. Folks this is important.
Yes we said you will rarely pay them what they are worth. If you pay people what they are worth, there are no profits for the business. Think about it.
(Your company actually pays the market rate of each individual’s productivity and expertise, not what they are worth)
So how do you make up the difference? Perks. Like full remote (or near full remote) options for your performers (at every level). Think about the value of having a working parent on your team that can calmly manage their children’s schedules and work even more productively for your company while doing so. It’s not really that difficult to make this a reality for your people.
We will speak to managing hybrid and remote workers productivity over the long term in a future post. It can get tricky.*
In the meanwhile, here are a few Pro Hints:
Make sure that people who chose full time office are treated the same as remote workers.*
Merit not facetime and friendships should be the rule company wide for raises, bonuses, promotions, etc.*
Be very clear what defines merit within each team / group / position. At the start of the new year, during on-boarding, 6 months before annual reviews.
Want to show your people that you care? The complete solution set may be overwhelming. Books have been written about this subject alone. We’ve found that simple steps employees can easily recognize is the best way to get started. Start with flexible work time – with time slot exceptions (10:00am – 2:00am). Be clear about how to communicate during those times. Limit meetings to 15 minutes when remote. Make sure your have calendared all events outside of the required slot exception at least 2 weeks out. On In-Office days make certain you have a field-trip attitude and have the times and meetings fully organized by time slots with agenda. Catering is a big plus too. It keeps people in the office. The idea is to treat employees like family on In-Office days. Remind them that you care. It makes them sticky.
We’ll have more on remote work and productive employees Thursday.