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13 Ways to Work Effectively Across Teams

While it makes introverts and everyone who hated group projects in school cringe at the thought, collaboration in the workplace is essential. Still, working effectively across teams can sometimes be

02 Jul, 2024

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Workplace Collaboration...a Problem Costing You More Than You Know

In a global survey of more than 2,000 workers, more than two-thirds of employees (64%) claim that poor workplace collaboration is wasting at least 3-5 hours of productivity per week -- and some even say more than 6 hours. As a result, nearly half of those employees have left or would consider leaving their job due to poor collaboration.  “Collaboration, in terms of how we work together, and the tools we use to do so, is firmly under the spotlight at present,” said Scott Day, Chief People Officer at Corel. “Prior to the pandemic, we underappreciated how easy it was to collaborate. Now, with the shift to new hybrid models of working, cracks in how we work together have begun to show and the onus is on businesses to actively seek new models of collaboration that suit the way that their employees want to work.” In that same survey, 78% of employees claim their businesses’ leadership could be doing more to promote collaboration within the organization, with 27% claiming that their organization hasn’t invested in the right collaboration tools. But the companies that are promoting, encouraging and investing in workplace collaboration have been linked to reducing employee turnover rates by 50%.  A  workplace collaboration problem costing you money, time and resources can be fixed with a strategic approach to relationship building and a focus on team performance and the employee experience. Collaboration Powers Productivity We are now at the next stage of work where hybrid and remote working have moved from being an employee request, to an employee expectation. Business leaders need to embrace this change, making a concerted effort to create a working environment that makes it easy for employees to work together–and a critical part of this means investing in the right tools. Failure to do so will see businesses struggle to attract and retain their best talent and they will continue to be at a competitive disadvantage. In fact, it's a problem worth fixing when you consider that effective communication and collaboration sparks both creativity, innovation, and productivity -- all which leads to better team effectiveness and hence business outcomes.A recent American study of 1,100 companies carried out by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Babson College found those that promoted collaborative working were five times more likely to be high performing. In 2008, a University of Maryland meta study of 72 different pieces of research highlighted significant benefits from using an agile software development approach – that is, a collaborative approach. It showed significant improvements in costs, reduced timescales, productivity and return on investment.How much does collaboration increase productivity? The benefits of using collaboration tools are real. Collaboration increases productivity by 25% or more. A comprehensive workplace study by McKinsey looked specifically at the effect of improving collaboration through improved internal social tools, so it’s likely that the total effect of collaboration increases productivity by even more than 25%. Source: Raconteur Employees Value Workplace Collaboration More Than You ThinkMore than 50% of workers in the United States say their jobs are reliant on collaboration.       86% of employees in leadership positions blame lack of collaboration as the top reason for workplace failures. About 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as being very important.   Employees are 17% more satisfied with their job when they engage in collaboration at work. Over the last 20 years, workplace collaboration has increased by at least 50%. Top-performing workers spend 45% of their time working collaboratively. Only 9% of surveyed employees in a Deloitte study reported that their place of employment had very effective sharing and collaboration tools. Collaborating on tasks and sharing ideas is valued at $1,660 per employee each year and that quality improvements made as a result of workplace collaboration are valued at $2,517 per employee each year. (Deloitte) Companies that promote collaboration at work have 5x better performance rates.Source: Zippia At the end of the day, focusing on workplace collaboration in the context of the employee experience doesn’t just help your people; it also helps the company. An employee who feels connection to others is an employee who is most likely to engage. And an employee who can fully engage is an employee who feels compelled to stay. That means you stave off the risk of the lost productivity, lower morale, and customer dissatisfaction that can arise when turnover is rampant. If you're looking for a more effective way your team can work together to meet goals, we can help. In the meantime, use these https://www.humantelligence.com/tips-guides/5-strategies-to-supercharge-team-collaboration/ to start improving collaboration on your team today!

13 Jun, 2024

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5 Ways to Boost Employee Motivation

If your employees don’t seem motivated, it’s not necessarily a sign of a bigger problem, but it may signal that your company could be doing more to support its people. So, how can you instill that ‘let’s go’ attitude? Let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of employee motivation. What is employee motivation? Employee motivation is the level of drive workers invest in their tasks and responsibilities. It’s a measure of how focused and ambitious they are when they’re on the clock. It sounds a lot like employee engagement, but employee motivation and engagement differ. Motivation is just one component of engagement, which is the level of enthusiasm and connection employees have with their organization. You can break employee engagement down into five factors:Pride Recommendation Present commitment Future commitment MotivationMotivation plays an important role in engagement, but the terms aren’t interchangeable.  To keep it simple, think of it like this:Motivation describes employee drive Engagement describes employee interest, commitment, and enthusiasmHow to motivate employees: 5 strategies to boost employee motivation Higher employee motivation is tied to better job satisfaction, performance, and even retention. So, understandably, leaders want to know: How do you motivate employees and reap those benefits? Here are five employee motivation strategies to fuel their sense of drive and ambition. 1. Build your baseline It’s easier to improve employee motivation if you know where you’re starting. Collecting employee feedback can help you understand how motivated they’re currently feeling in their roles, as well as what they need to feel even more motivated at work. You could do a separate survey focused specifically on employee motivation or look at the questions in your employee engagement survey that pertain specifically to their level of drive. Gathering employee feedback is also an opportunity to assess how they feel about other important aspects of your workplace – compensation, benefits, and leadership. All of those impact their level of motivation as well. 2. Connect employees to a bigger purpose Plenty of research shows that employees are increasingly looking for a sense of purpose at work. And when an impressive 70% of employees say their own sense of purpose is defined by what they do for a living, organizations need to be up to the task of helping employees find that sense of fulfillment and meaning. The good news is that this isn’t just a feel-good activity for employees – it benefits employers too, as studies show that meaningful work boosts both motivation and performance. One of the best ways to foster this sense of meaning and purpose is to show employees why their work matters. They may not have the same level of visibility as leaders, so managers will need to connect those dots for them:How does their individual work contribute to team or organization-wide goals? Why are those goals important to the organization? Why are those goals important for the broader industry or community?By tracing work upwards in this way, employees get a much better sense of where and how they fit in – which makes their work feel more valuable and, as a result, more motivating. 3. Build social support Social relatedness – the term for feeling connected to other people – is proven to increase motivation at work. But unfortunately, that feeling of belonging is harder to come by these days, particularly with many teams still working remotely or in a hybrid format. In fact, two-thirds of workers admit that they feel disconnected from their colleagues. Providing regular opportunities for team members to forge bonds with each other might sound like it would detract from motivation, but the opposite is true – it adds to it. Whether you do something small like dedicate the first 10 minutes of your weekly team meeting to personal small talk or something big like scheduling a team-wide offsite, strengthening these relationships can work wonders for motivation. Research shows that simply feeling like part of a team increases motivation for challenging tasks. In addition to these tactics, you can invest in tools that are designed to infuse inclusion and belonging into team’s daily workflows. These tools work to build a foundation of understanding between team members that ultimately make people feel seen, heard and valued. 4. Offer adequate praise and recognition When we receive praise or a compliment, our brains release dopamine. While it’s often thought of as a feel-good brain chemical, it’s actually closely tied to motivation. The gist is that your brain really likes dopamine, and it gives you a major nudge to pursue more of that reward. Even that quick brain science lesson should be enough to show you that a little bit of employee recognition can go a long way in increasing motivation – and engagement too. According to research from Gallup, employees who receive great recognition are 20 times as likely to be engaged as employees who receive poor recognition. Recognition doesn’t need to be complex. A simple shoutout in a meeting or a handwritten note to recognize a job well done can help people feel more seen and valued. Just be careful about keeping things even, because employees will notice if you play favorites. Only 26% of employees strongly agree that they receive similar recognition as other team members with similar performance levels. And while a hearty “Nice work!” from a direct supervisor carries a lot of weight, be sure to encourage frequent peer-to-peer recognition too. Research shows that this type of praise increases engagement, performance, and motivation. 5. Encourage advancement opportunities When employees see a clear path forward, they’re more likely to actually want to take those steps. That’s why career development positively influences employee performance and motivation – employees are driven to move toward future achievements and milestones. Career growth opportunities fuel both types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because of the inherent satisfaction you get, while extrinsic means doing something in pursuit of external rewards. Both come into play with career advancement. Employees get a sense of accomplishment from learning new skills or tackling new challenges, as well as more tangible rewards like certifications, raises, or promotions. Leaders can capitalize on this by outlining a motivating future for employees, including clear career goals, and then supporting employee development with plenty of resources, progress tracking, and regular check-ins. After all, it’s hard for employees to muster the motivation to move toward a finish line if they don’t know what or where it is. Employee motivation doesn’t have to be a mystery The world of work is changing rapidly, and so is what helps employees feel their most focused and motivated. Ultimately, it’s up to leaders and organizations to figure out how to feed that fire.

03 Jun, 2024

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4 Ways HR Can Enable Stronger Manager-Employee Relationships

Managers are the conduit through which employees receive important communications, understand company values, and experience belonging, growth, a sense of purpose, and so much more. Their influence is impactful — and the manager-employee relationship is perhaps the most important one in an organization. Many of us are probably familiar with one of the most profound Gallup finding that managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. What can HR leaders do to assist and positively influence  manager-employee relationships? Manager-employee relationships: Managers are struggling and want help from HR A report from UKG earlier this year found that 46% of managers said they were likely to quit because of job-related stress. Like everyone else, they are affected by accelerating change at work and economic uncertainty. But unlike individual contributors and even leaders, managers are caught in the middle — expected to deliver on the demands of the business and to guide, coach, and relate to their reports in very humanistic ways. Hybrid work environments, along with employees’ changing expectations of their employers, have altered the manager’s role. At the same time, organizational support of key drivers of managerial effectiveness is declining. A 2023 study from Red Thread Research showed that organizational clarity on what employees need to do to succeed in the future fell 10 percentage points to 38% from 2021 to 2022. Data-based insights about team engagement declined by 7 points to 33%. According to Red Thread, this lower level of support drives employees’ view that their managers are less effective, even though employees view their manager’s behaviors as mostly unchanged year over year. Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement research shows that managers want more help from HR, but only a quarter always get the support they need. Just under half receive some support, and about a third receive support either rarely or not at all. The bottom line is that organizations — specifically, the people in charge — have the responsibility and ability to adopt practices that will strengthen manager effectiveness and, ultimately, the manager-employee relationship. The outcomes are well worth the effort. In fact, Red Thread’s research reveals that companies with effective managers realize a higher NPS and greater engagement. Employees trust managers the most Without transparency and accountability, there is no trust. And without trust, everything becomes a steep hill to climb for the employee, the manager, and the employer. Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement report shows that while employees trust their team members the most (68%), managers are a close second at 63%. It makes sense to continue to build on this trust by strengthening the manager-employee connection. Great conversations are a cornerstone of healthy manager-employee relationships. And research shows satisfaction with performance and career development conversations correlated to higher engagement, productivity, and intent to stay. To distill all this research to its essence, if HR leaders can, with the support of leadership, provide the support, resources, and tools to foster healthy manager-employee relationships, their organizations stand to reap positive outcomes — in engagement, productivity, and retention — far above the effort they put in. The key is communication, and here are 4 ways you can help your managers improve communication with their teams. Have managers set a clear vision for the team to sustain manager-employee relationships Managing challenging behaviors – such as steamrolling or overanalyzing – takes planning and communication on your part. It’s important to play to your people’s strengths and direct their energy toward common goals. The tone of your workplace has a lot to do with setting expectations – and that’s your job. When beginning a project, gather the right team members together to talk about objectives and goals. How does the project support the company’s values and vision? How does each person’s role support the goals? Everyone should be on the same page, working toward the same outcome. How the team arrives at the final goal may look different to each person because of their individual work style or energizer. So, it’s up to you to focus or redirect their strengths, make sure they understand their roles, give feedback along the way, and give them the support or independence they need to do great things. Remind team managers to assume nothing. You know what they say about assuming things! So as hard as this may be, come into the conversation with a clear head and an open mind. Giving the conversation’s participants the benefit of the doubt will help prevent them from getting defensive, which of course, will make conversation even more difficult and work to strain manager-employee relationships. This is an opportunity to practice compassion. Ask questions about people’s experiences and listen to what they say. Important things will be said and the better you listen, the better the people having the conversation will listen to each other. We all want to be heard and recognized, and this approach will put you in the right mindset to more effectively listen to your colleagues, even when it’s things that are hard to hear. You'll start to see stronger manager-employee relationships blossom. Use GRIT to approach conversations No, not grit…but GRIT: Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth. According to Laurie Sudbrink of Unlimited Coaching Solutions, “No one likes to be confronted. Most appreciate being helped. When engaging in a conversation to help, our intent will come from a better place. We won’t feel like we’re confronting the person, and our disposition aligns more naturally. I find it helpful to have an opening statement that portrays my intent. And then commit to being fully present and helpful throughout the dialogue.” Make work more human through technology Role play, or at minimum, putting yourself in the other’s shoes is an effective way to prepare for and practice tough or potentially uncomfortable conversations. Write down what you want to say and be clear on the goal of the conversation — what do you want someone to leave with? as an “a-ha” or action item? Rehearsing what and how you want to say something will help you keep the conversation direct and on track — avoiding distraction and saying hurtful things that may cause further issues or conflict. Further, this is where technology can come in to help. The basis for many interpersonal conflicts at work is poor communication; and poor communication often results from misunderstanding or a lack of truly understanding your conversation counterpart. If you had personality insights for the person with whom you’re communicating, you’d be able to take a more custom approach to the conversation. Whether it be in video meetings, on the phone, via email, or chat, you could have the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another right at your fingertips – taking all of the guesswork out of it. Here’s how it works. Every team member takes a scientifically validated, 12-minute personality assessment. The plug-in then delivers those insights through the tools you use everyday: think tools like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Gmail, calendars, Zoom, Slack, Webex, and more. When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this plug-in automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication with peers. Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers in an easy-to-understand way. As a team leader, you’re able to lay a strong foundation for more inclusive and efficient communication and for team members, along with:Creating more balanced, diverse & agile teams Optimizing team members’ impact by tapping into the unique behaviors, motivators & work energizers of each person. Experiencing the increased productivity that comes from improved team effectiveness.As a team member, you’re able to:Gain deeper understanding of one another, allowing better connection and ability to work through conflict Create deeper, more meaningful connection that translates into more effective collaborations and higher quality relationships at work Feel more engaged in your daily workProvide your team managers with tools that allow them to better understand others’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers, along with preferences and tendencies related to communication, learning, and influencing, you can better craft your delivery — taking their style into consideration before you engage – customizing communication in ways that increase your chances of a positive outcome. That’s going to be your key to more engaged employees, strong manager-employee relationships, and better team performance.

23 Apr, 2024

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Mastering Collaboration: Your Guide for Working Effectively with Gen Z

In today's workforce, collaboration -- specifically collaborating with Gen Z -- is key to achieving success. And as organizations become more diverse, it is essential to understand and effectively work with team members from different generations. In particular, Generation Z (Gen Z), which refers to individuals born between 1997 and 2012, has unique characteristics and work styles that require HR professionals and team leaders to adapt their strategies. From embracing AI tools to providing training tailored to Gen Z, this article will help you navigate the challenges of working with Gen Z team members and foster intergenerational dynamics for a more collaborative and productive workplace. Understanding the Gen Z mindset Understanding the Gen Z mindset in the workplace is crucial when it comes to collaborating with Gen Z. As digital natives, Gen Z individuals have grown up surrounded by technology, which has had a profound impact on their thoughts and behaviors. This generation values instant gratification, diversity, and individuality. They are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and desire for meaningful work. Understanding these characteristics will enable HR professionals and team leaders to tailor their approach and create a collaborative environment that resonates with Gen Z team members. One way to understand the Gen Z mindset is by recognizing their desire for continuous learning and growth. This generation thrives on new challenges and opportunities to acquire new skills. By providing ongoing training and development programs, organizations can harness the full potential of Gen Z team members. Moreover, acknowledging their preference for a diverse workplace will foster an inclusive and collaborative environment. In the next section, we will delve deeper into strategies for effectively communicating with Gen Z team members and how to leverage their digital skills to drive collaboration. Stay tuned for an in-depth exploration of the Gen Z mindset and practical tips for working collaboratively with this generation. How to create a collaborative work environment Creating a collaborative work environment is essential for effectively working with Gen Z team members. This generation thrives in environments that promote teamwork, communication, and collaboration. Here are some strategies to foster collaboration: 1. Encourage open communication: Gen Z team members appreciate transparency and value open communication. Create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their ideas, opinions, and concerns. Regularly schedule team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and one-on-one check-ins to facilitate open dialogue. 2. Embrace flexible work arrangements: Gen Z individuals value work-life balance and appreciate flexibility. Consider implementing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible working hours. This will help them feel empowered and motivated to contribute their best work. 3. Utilize technology tools: Gen Z team members are tech-savvy and comfortable with various digital tools. Leverage technology platforms and collaborative software to streamline communication, project management, and document sharing. This will enhance productivity and efficiency. 4. Foster a supportive culture: Create a culture of support and empowerment, in which team members feel valued and encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives. Recognize and reward their achievements, and provide constructive feedback to help them grow professionally. By leading with these strategies, you can create a collaborative work environment that engages and motivates Gen Z team members, leading to increased productivity and better outcomes for your organization. Leveraging technology for collaborating with Gen Z Leveraging technology is paramount for effective collaboration with Gen Z team members. This generation is highly skilled in utilizing digital tools and expects to have access to the latest technology in the workplace. By incorporating technology into your collaboration efforts, you can enhance communication, streamline project management, and foster a sense of connectedness among team members. For example, it is wise to invest in a psychometric-based tool that helps teams better understand each other so they can collaborate and connect more meaningfully in meetings, on Slack, or via email. Utilizing technology doesn’t only bridge the generation gap but also makes the younger generation feel valued and needed in the workplace.  Investing in collaboration platforms and applications will also enable real-time communication and document sharing, eliminating the need for back-and-forth emails and increasing efficiency. Gen Zers are accustomed to instant messaging and video conferencing, so consider implementing tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams for seamless communication.  Fortunately, it’s also easy to leverage AI tools to kick your training and internal communication up a notch. Say you have a new Gen Z hire that needs to email the head of sales, John, every week with reported leads. The problem is, they hardly know John, and have no idea how John likes to consume information. With an AI tool that utilizes your company's previously recorded psychometric data, the new hire can use pre-supplemented suggestions to ensure their emails are comprehensive and useful for John, despite having never interacted with him before. This AI-fueled approach to “on-the-fly” training can extend beyond emails to all communications, ultimately helping Gen Z employees learn new skills and making their contributions to the business more impactful. Additionally, project management tools such as Trello or Asana can help keep everyone on track, assign tasks, and monitor progress. By utilizing technology in these ways, you can create a collaborative work environment that aligns with the preferences and expectations of Gen Z, ultimately leading to improved teamwork and successful outcomes. Communication strategies with Gen Z team members Effective communication is essential for successful collaboration with Gen Z team members. This generation has grown up with instant messaging and social media, and they prefer quick and concise communication methods. Here are some strategies to enhance collaboration through communication: First, establish clear expectations regarding communication channels. Discuss with your Gen Z team members which platforms they prefer for specific types of communication, such as formal emails for official updates and instant messaging for quick questions or updates. Second, encourage open and transparent communication. Gen Z team members value authenticity and appreciate when their opinions and ideas are heard. Create a safe and inclusive space where they can freely express themselves. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of visuals and multimedia in your communication. This is, after all, the video generation! Gen Z team members respond well to visual content, so consider incorporating infographics, videos, and images to convey information in a more engaging way. By implementing these communication strategies, you can foster a collaborative environment where Gen Z team members feel valued and can contribute their best work. Nurturing a culture of inclusivity and diversity Nurturing a culture of inclusivity and diversity is crucial when working effectively with Gen Z team members. This generation values equality and appreciates a diverse and inclusive work environment. Here are some ways to promote inclusivity and diversity within your team: First, educate yourself and your team on the importance of inclusivity and diversity. Understand the different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences that each team member brings to the table. Encourage open dialogue and discussions about diversity-related topics. Second, establish inclusive policies and practices. Consider implementing initiatives such as unconscious bias training, diverse recruitment strategies, and equal representation in decision-making processes. Celebrate and recognize the contributions of every team member. Encourage a culture of appreciation and respect for diversity by giving credit where it is due and acknowledging the unique skills and perspectives that Gen Z team members bring. By creating an inclusive and diverse work environment, you can foster collaboration with and innovation among Gen Z team members, leading to better overall team performance. Recognizing and appreciating Gen Z contributions Gen Z team members are incredibly talented and innovative individuals who bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table. Recognizing and appreciating their contributions is essential for fostering collaboration and maintaining a positive work environment. Here are some ways to ensure that Gen Z team members feel valued and appreciated: Firstly, provide regular feedback and recognition. Gen Z employees thrive on feedback and appreciation for their work. Take the time to acknowledge their achievements and skills, whether it's through a simple thank you note or a public commendation in team meetings. By doing so, you are not only boosting their morale but also motivating them to continue delivering exceptional results. Next, provide opportunities for growth and development. Gen Z employees are keen on continuous learning and professional development. Offer them opportunities to attend workshops, conferences, or training programs. This investment in their growth will show that you value their career advancement and are committed to their long-term success. Lastly, involve Gen Z team members in decision-making processes. Their fresh perspectives can offer valuable insights and innovative solutions. Encourage them to participate in brainstorming sessions or include them in projects that require creative thinking and problem-solving. By doing so, you are empowering them to contribute to the team's success and instilling a sense of ownership in their work. Acknowledging Gen Z team members for their contributions is crucial for creating a collaborative and productive work environment. By offering feedback, providing growth opportunities, and involving them in decision-making, you are not only fostering their professional development but also maximizing their potential to drive innovation within the team. Overcoming challenges working with Gen Z While Gen Z team members bring immense talent and a fresh perspective to the table, it's important to acknowledge that there may be some challenges in working with them – just like any generation that’s entered the workforce. Understanding and addressing these challenges can significantly enhance collaboration and teamwork. One common challenge is the need for constant feedback and validation. In fact, new studies show that at least a couple of times a week, more than half of Gen Z, 54%, want praise from bosses for their efforts at work, according to data by Australian research firm McCrindle. Almost three in five Gen Zers seek constructive feedback about how they can improve in their role at least a couple of times per week. Gen Z is also accustomed to receiving instant gratification and may expect constant praise for their work. As a leader, it's crucial to set clear expectations and provide constructive feedback regularly while balancing praise to maintain motivation. Another challenge lies in effectively managing their technological reliance. Gen Z employees are highly tech-savvy and prefer digital communication channels. It's important to establish clear boundaries and guidelines for communication to ensure effective collaboration while also providing opportunities for face-to-face interactions to foster stronger relationships within the team. Additionally, Gen Z employees value work-life balance and prioritize flexibility. To ensure their productivity and satisfaction, consider offering flexible work hours or remote work options whenever possible. By addressing these areas, leaders can create a collaborative environment that maximizes the potential of Gen Z team members while maintaining productivity and teamwork. The benefits of effectively collaborating with Gen Z In the end, collaborating effectively with Gen Z team members can bring numerous benefits to an organization. Harnessing their unique skills and perspectives can lead to innovative solutions and fresh ideas. Gen Z employees are often tech-savvy and can offer valuable insights into utilizing digital tools and platforms to streamline processes and enhance productivity. By encouraging collaboration, leaders can tap into the creativity and resourcefulness of Gen Z team members, leading to increased efficiency and problem-solving capabilities. Furthermore, effective collaboration with Gen Z team members fosters a positive and inclusive work culture. By embracing their need for constant feedback and validation, leaders can build a supportive environment where individuals feel heard and valued. This, in turn, boosts morale, motivation, and engagement among Gen Z employees, resulting in higher job satisfaction and decreased turnover rates. Embracing collaborating with Gen Z for organizational success Collaboration is an essential component for organizational success in today's fast-paced and evolving business landscape. This is especially true when it comes to working effectively with Gen Z team members. In this article, we have explored the numerous benefits that come from collaborating with Gen Zers in the workplace, along with different tactics that can empower you to build successful partnerships with this talented generation. From their tech-savviness and ability to offer valuable insights into digital tools and platforms, to their creativity and resourcefulness, Gen Z team members bring a fresh perspective that can enhance productivity and problem-solving capabilities. By embracing their need for constant feedback and validation, leaders can create a positive and inclusive work culture that fosters high morale, motivation, and engagement. We have also discussed the challenges that may arise when collaborating with Gen Z employees. However, armed with the actionable strategies and techniques, you will be well-equipped to overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of collaboration with Gen Z team members. If you’re looking for ways to tailor your onboarding, training, and collaboration strategies for Gen Z, we can help.

23 Apr, 2024

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13 Ways to Work Effectively Across Teams
13 Ways to Work Effectively Across Teams

While it makes introverts and everyone who hated group projects in school cringe at the thought, collaboration in the workplace is essential. Still, working effectively across teams can sometimes be a challenge. Different teams may have varying priorities, communication styles, and work methods, all of which can impact how smoothly they work together. However, with the right strategies in place, teams can overcome these obstacles and work together harmoniously towards a common goal. In this article, we will explore the importance of working effectively across teams and share our top 13 tips for achieving success in cross-team collaboration. Why Cross-Team Collaboration is Important No team operates in isolation. In fact, many businesses are supported by distributed teams spread across different states or even around the world. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Rob Cross, the Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College, high-performance organizations are up to 5.5x more likely than lower-performers to incentivize individual, team, and leader effectiveness in collaboration. The study of more than 1,100 companies—two-thirds of which include collaboration as a stated organizational value—found that the difference between productive and unproductive collaboration can be summed up in one word: purpose.  It’s the purposeful pursuit of collaboration that is the primary reason high-performance organizations, such as Patagonia, one of four companies highlighted in the study, can leverage collaboration to achieve desired business outcomes. Effective collaboration results from an effective company culture that is supported by management and embraces the entire organization. Simply think about the best team of which you’ve ever been a part. What made that team work? Was it the project? The people? The interpersonal dynamics? Did you enjoy being part of it? Did it bring out the best in you? Now think about the worst team you’ve ever been on. What made those experiences different? Collaborative teams equal enhanced productivity and results. When teams work, they work in the best of ways. But teamwork takes effort, and the reality is that teams can fall apart, break down and experience disruption for myriad reasons. In this post, we’ve combined the best ways to work within and across teams and put them all in one place so let's get to it. Be Strategic About Meetings to Improve Collaboration at WorkPrepare formal meeting agendas & keep communication styles in mind. If you’re leading a meeting or part of the team that called the meeting, keep in mind that some attendees might have a more reflective communication style, so if you want your meeting to be valuable and productive, proactively reach out to those team members ahead of the meeting to share specific topics in which you'd like them to contribute.  Defining a clear agenda for each meeting and considering the role of each person who is attending will help everyone involved understand how they can participate and what individual expectations entail. Not sure how to determine communication style?  No worries, there are tools for that.Observe and Model Best Practices for Building an Environment to Support Collaboration 2. Collaborate on the issue of collaboration. If the company culture dictates strong teams, take a look at the organization and see who else is doing it well. Talk to other managers about team dynamics, how they get people to collaborate and the behaviors they encourage. And make sure that you return the favor, sharing your own best practices and lessons learned. Don’t forget to look outside your company as well, talking with colleagues and mentors. You’d be surprised at how similar situations seem to come up across industries. 3. Create accountability around team performance, not just individual performance. This helps draw out the lone ranger team member and forces the team to work collaboratively toward common goals. If one person isn’t participating as a team member, the others won’t carry that person and a shift will start to take place. If there is one particular cynic, take that person aside and discover why there is conflict, too much independent work, or general derailing of teamwork. Depending on personality, you can either be very direct here or ask a series of “why” questions to get to the bottom of the situation. 4. Prioritize the employee experience. Seeing things from employees’ perspectives can help you learn a lot about work culture and some of the communication challenges that your company may be facing. Dedicating some time to explore employee experience and finding ways to improve both digital and physical work environments can go a long way towards making employees feel more satisfied and comfortable at work. 5. Create tech-driven collaboration spaces. Internet speeds and improvements in technology have made audio and video conferencing remarkably convenient these days. To foster more meaningful communication among employees, consider adding personalized communication insights to your meeting tools so everyone knows how best to communicate with one another. Making meetings more valuable for everyone involved goes a long way toward developing a strong collaborative work culture. 6. Promote learning and development.** **Many employees desire career advancement for the chance to apply their skills to new projects and learning opportunities, all of which contributes to effective and collaborative relationship building within the company. In fact, companies that encourage mindful risk-taking and learning from mistakes often realize greater innovation and workplace effectiveness. According to the July 2021 Monster Job Index:80% of professionals don’t think their current employer provides growth opportunities.  54% of employees fear they don’t have the skills they need to thrive in a workforce that emphasizes collaboration using technology.  49% of employees expect their employer to support career growth.How Leaders Can Improve Collaboration at Work 7. Set clear goals. Employees are more likely to collaborate with each other when they clearly understand their individual roles and the team goals that everyone is working toward. Well-defined goals give the entire team a sense of shared purpose and can help foster innovation and problem-solving. One clear sign of an effective team is one that can self-assess and identify issues that lead to meaningful improvements over time. 8. Provide team incentives. “The lack of incentives and rewards is the most common and powerful barrier to effective collaboration. Yet, most talent management systems are designed to reward individual achievement, not team accomplishments,” says Kevin Martin, Chief Research Officer, i4cp. “Finding ways to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams who engage in productive collaborative behaviors can pay off in a big way.” 9. Communicate expectations for collaboration. It’s easy to be a cheerleader for collaboration, but without clear direction, it can be challenging for employees to understand what to do. From the start, set your expectation for collaboration as a minimum standard. Even better, it should be part of your onboarding process so that potential recruits know you prioritize teamwork. Employees' job descriptions should include details about their own individual roles, as well as roles they're expected to carry out collaboratively. By differentiating these, you're setting clear boundaries between what they should be taking personal responsibility for, and what they need to work on collectively. 10. Celebrate wins often. Especially when dealing with long-term or complex projects, it’s not always easy for employees to appreciate the achievements they are making along the way. Teams can benefit from taking time to celebrate wins and milestones together in a formal or informal setting. These celebrations can be small, as any chance to recognize and appreciate effective team collaboration is valuable. Focus on Communication to Improve Collaboration at Work 11. Encourage active listening. Part of the challenge in facilitating effective workplace communication is balancing discussions among different team members. This can be particularly difficult when dealing with different cultures, personalities, and challenging topics. Helping employees, and especially managers, develop their active listening skills can help everyone feel heard and more involved. 12. Don’t neglect asynchronous communication. Asynchronous communication involves information that is shared at different times. One example would be a post made on a company message board that others can respond to at any time. Many collaboration platforms include features that enable this form of communication. Asynchronous communication can be particularly effective for remote teams and those working across multiple time zones. 13. Adopt hybrid communication models. One of the best ways to foster communication and enhance collaboration is to give employees a number of tools to communicate with each other. Utilizing several tools such as email, chat or messaging, video, and a company intranet will allow employees to communicate information in a way that is effective for them. And if you have plug-in tools that provide specific tips or suggestions for collaborating with particular teammates, even better! This makes it easier for everyone to share insights at any time and contribute to an individual, team, or corporate discussion. In the end, whether your working within or across teams, following these tips will help you implement the right processes and technologies to enhance collaboration and incentivize effective collaboration among individuals, teams, and leaders. By establishing clear communication channels, fostering a culture of trust and mutual respect, and defining clear roles and responsibilities, organizations can leverage the unique strengths of each team, enhance collaboration, and achieve better results.

Workplace Collaboration...a Problem Costing You More Than You Know
Workplace Collaboration...a Problem Costing You More Than You Know

In a global survey of more than 2,000 workers, more than two-thirds of employees (64%) claim that poor workplace collaboration is wasting at least 3-5 hours of productivity per week -- and some even say more than 6 hours. As a result, nearly half of those employees have left or would consider leaving their job due to poor collaboration.  “Collaboration, in terms of how we work together, and the tools we use to do so, is firmly under the spotlight at present,” said Scott Day, Chief People Officer at Corel. “Prior to the pandemic, we underappreciated how easy it was to collaborate. Now, with the shift to new hybrid models of working, cracks in how we work together have begun to show and the onus is on businesses to actively seek new models of collaboration that suit the way that their employees want to work.” In that same survey, 78% of employees claim their businesses’ leadership could be doing more to promote collaboration within the organization, with 27% claiming that their organization hasn’t invested in the right collaboration tools. But the companies that are promoting, encouraging and investing in workplace collaboration have been linked to reducing employee turnover rates by 50%.  A  workplace collaboration problem costing you money, time and resources can be fixed with a strategic approach to relationship building and a focus on team performance and the employee experience. Collaboration Powers Productivity We are now at the next stage of work where hybrid and remote working have moved from being an employee request, to an employee expectation. Business leaders need to embrace this change, making a concerted effort to create a working environment that makes it easy for employees to work together–and a critical part of this means investing in the right tools. Failure to do so will see businesses struggle to attract and retain their best talent and they will continue to be at a competitive disadvantage. In fact, it's a problem worth fixing when you consider that effective communication and collaboration sparks both creativity, innovation, and productivity -- all which leads to better team effectiveness and hence business outcomes.A recent American study of 1,100 companies carried out by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Babson College found those that promoted collaborative working were five times more likely to be high performing. In 2008, a University of Maryland meta study of 72 different pieces of research highlighted significant benefits from using an agile software development approach – that is, a collaborative approach. It showed significant improvements in costs, reduced timescales, productivity and return on investment.How much does collaboration increase productivity? The benefits of using collaboration tools are real. Collaboration increases productivity by 25% or more. A comprehensive workplace study by McKinsey looked specifically at the effect of improving collaboration through improved internal social tools, so it’s likely that the total effect of collaboration increases productivity by even more than 25%. Source: Raconteur Employees Value Workplace Collaboration More Than You ThinkMore than 50% of workers in the United States say their jobs are reliant on collaboration.       86% of employees in leadership positions blame lack of collaboration as the top reason for workplace failures. About 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as being very important.   Employees are 17% more satisfied with their job when they engage in collaboration at work. Over the last 20 years, workplace collaboration has increased by at least 50%. Top-performing workers spend 45% of their time working collaboratively. Only 9% of surveyed employees in a Deloitte study reported that their place of employment had very effective sharing and collaboration tools. Collaborating on tasks and sharing ideas is valued at $1,660 per employee each year and that quality improvements made as a result of workplace collaboration are valued at $2,517 per employee each year. (Deloitte) Companies that promote collaboration at work have 5x better performance rates.Source: Zippia At the end of the day, focusing on workplace collaboration in the context of the employee experience doesn’t just help your people; it also helps the company. An employee who feels connection to others is an employee who is most likely to engage. And an employee who can fully engage is an employee who feels compelled to stay. That means you stave off the risk of the lost productivity, lower morale, and customer dissatisfaction that can arise when turnover is rampant. If you're looking for a more effective way your team can work together to meet goals, we can help. In the meantime, use these https://www.humantelligence.com/tips-guides/5-strategies-to-supercharge-team-collaboration/ to start improving collaboration on your team today!

5 Ways to Boost Employee Motivation
5 Ways to Boost Employee Motivation

If your employees don’t seem motivated, it’s not necessarily a sign of a bigger problem, but it may signal that your company could be doing more to support its people. So, how can you instill that ‘let’s go’ attitude? Let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of employee motivation. What is employee motivation? Employee motivation is the level of drive workers invest in their tasks and responsibilities. It’s a measure of how focused and ambitious they are when they’re on the clock. It sounds a lot like employee engagement, but employee motivation and engagement differ. Motivation is just one component of engagement, which is the level of enthusiasm and connection employees have with their organization. You can break employee engagement down into five factors:Pride Recommendation Present commitment Future commitment MotivationMotivation plays an important role in engagement, but the terms aren’t interchangeable.  To keep it simple, think of it like this:Motivation describes employee drive Engagement describes employee interest, commitment, and enthusiasmHow to motivate employees: 5 strategies to boost employee motivation Higher employee motivation is tied to better job satisfaction, performance, and even retention. So, understandably, leaders want to know: How do you motivate employees and reap those benefits? Here are five employee motivation strategies to fuel their sense of drive and ambition. 1. Build your baseline It’s easier to improve employee motivation if you know where you’re starting. Collecting employee feedback can help you understand how motivated they’re currently feeling in their roles, as well as what they need to feel even more motivated at work. You could do a separate survey focused specifically on employee motivation or look at the questions in your employee engagement survey that pertain specifically to their level of drive. Gathering employee feedback is also an opportunity to assess how they feel about other important aspects of your workplace – compensation, benefits, and leadership. All of those impact their level of motivation as well. 2. Connect employees to a bigger purpose Plenty of research shows that employees are increasingly looking for a sense of purpose at work. And when an impressive 70% of employees say their own sense of purpose is defined by what they do for a living, organizations need to be up to the task of helping employees find that sense of fulfillment and meaning. The good news is that this isn’t just a feel-good activity for employees – it benefits employers too, as studies show that meaningful work boosts both motivation and performance. One of the best ways to foster this sense of meaning and purpose is to show employees why their work matters. They may not have the same level of visibility as leaders, so managers will need to connect those dots for them:How does their individual work contribute to team or organization-wide goals? Why are those goals important to the organization? Why are those goals important for the broader industry or community?By tracing work upwards in this way, employees get a much better sense of where and how they fit in – which makes their work feel more valuable and, as a result, more motivating. 3. Build social support Social relatedness – the term for feeling connected to other people – is proven to increase motivation at work. But unfortunately, that feeling of belonging is harder to come by these days, particularly with many teams still working remotely or in a hybrid format. In fact, two-thirds of workers admit that they feel disconnected from their colleagues. Providing regular opportunities for team members to forge bonds with each other might sound like it would detract from motivation, but the opposite is true – it adds to it. Whether you do something small like dedicate the first 10 minutes of your weekly team meeting to personal small talk or something big like scheduling a team-wide offsite, strengthening these relationships can work wonders for motivation. Research shows that simply feeling like part of a team increases motivation for challenging tasks. In addition to these tactics, you can invest in tools that are designed to infuse inclusion and belonging into team’s daily workflows. These tools work to build a foundation of understanding between team members that ultimately make people feel seen, heard and valued. 4. Offer adequate praise and recognition When we receive praise or a compliment, our brains release dopamine. While it’s often thought of as a feel-good brain chemical, it’s actually closely tied to motivation. The gist is that your brain really likes dopamine, and it gives you a major nudge to pursue more of that reward. Even that quick brain science lesson should be enough to show you that a little bit of employee recognition can go a long way in increasing motivation – and engagement too. According to research from Gallup, employees who receive great recognition are 20 times as likely to be engaged as employees who receive poor recognition. Recognition doesn’t need to be complex. A simple shoutout in a meeting or a handwritten note to recognize a job well done can help people feel more seen and valued. Just be careful about keeping things even, because employees will notice if you play favorites. Only 26% of employees strongly agree that they receive similar recognition as other team members with similar performance levels. And while a hearty “Nice work!” from a direct supervisor carries a lot of weight, be sure to encourage frequent peer-to-peer recognition too. Research shows that this type of praise increases engagement, performance, and motivation. 5. Encourage advancement opportunities When employees see a clear path forward, they’re more likely to actually want to take those steps. That’s why career development positively influences employee performance and motivation – employees are driven to move toward future achievements and milestones. Career growth opportunities fuel both types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because of the inherent satisfaction you get, while extrinsic means doing something in pursuit of external rewards. Both come into play with career advancement. Employees get a sense of accomplishment from learning new skills or tackling new challenges, as well as more tangible rewards like certifications, raises, or promotions. Leaders can capitalize on this by outlining a motivating future for employees, including clear career goals, and then supporting employee development with plenty of resources, progress tracking, and regular check-ins. After all, it’s hard for employees to muster the motivation to move toward a finish line if they don’t know what or where it is. Employee motivation doesn’t have to be a mystery The world of work is changing rapidly, and so is what helps employees feel their most focused and motivated. Ultimately, it’s up to leaders and organizations to figure out how to feed that fire.

Managing Distributed Teams: 5 Red Flags & 4 Ways to to Them Green
Managing Distributed Teams: 5 Red Flags & 4 Ways to to Them Green

Managing distributed teams is challenging, but remote work has become the norm. Globally, more and more employers are embracing flexible schedules for their remote teams leading to new remote work trends and more remote work options. What many companies fail to pay attention to is the impact on culture. With a bevy of savvy job seekers and your current employees evaluating new opportunities everyday, let’s explore a few red flags when it comes to managing distributed teams and how you can turn them green. Managing Distributed Teams as the Norm According to TECLA, 85 percent of managers believe that having managing distributed teams and having remote workers is now the norm. What’s more, the share of online job searches for remote positions jumped 460 percent in the two years between June 2019 and June 2021, according to an analysis by Glassdoor. Trends show that businesses will continue to adopt a hybrid or remote-first approach to their working environment. In fact, 79 percent of the C-Suite would let their employees split their time between corporate offices and remote working if their job allows for it. These digital workplaces and location-agnostic arrangements will allow employees greater freedom and control over their schedules, giving them the power to decide where and when they work. It will also allow companies to save on overhead costs and free up budget to focus on other people-focused initiatives – like creating a more equitable remote work culture. 5 Warning Signs Your Distributed Team Might Be Suffering When it comes to remote work, it can be challenging to maintain or shift company culture in ways that empower all employees. Here are some warning signs or red flags that indicate you don’t have an empowering remote work culture.No onboarding program specific to remote new-hires or for a remote work culture: If your company hasn’t taken the time to learn how to train remote employees — from how to use their technology to best practices for communicating and collaborating with teams — it probably hasn’t spent a lot of time thinking about how to onboard new employees virtually. This signals a lack of investment and, potentially, a lack of support. No social events that mix remote and non-remote employees: If your company hasn’t figured out how to routinely host events that encourage remote and non-remote employees to get to know each other, it’s being the opposite of inclusive – that’s right, exclusive to its in-office employees. Loneliness and a lack of visibility are two commonly cited downsides of working remotely — but they’re issues that are pretty easily overcome with effort from employers. No procedures for meetings that mix remote and non-remote employees: If your team is made up of remote and non-remote employees, and you don’t have standards for how to make sure everyone is included and heard, you’re not valuing the remote experience. Employers who care about supporting their remote employees make sure that meeting rooms have the proper technology and that leaders know how to make the proper space — and they make sure these standards are followed every time. Digital communication tools are not prioritized: In managing distributed teams, people can't have impromptu conversations. However, there are plenty of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools to help address the gaps that can occur when some people are not physically present. If digital tools that support better communication and collaboration have not been set in place or prioritized by management, and teams haven't been advised on how to optimize them, then you’re not setting your teams up for success. No highly visible roles are held by remote employees: If an employer calls themselves “remote-friendly” but doesn’t have anyone in leadership roles working remotely, it’s worth asking why. If working remotely is reserved for roles with no upward mobility — or no organizational weight — you cannot claim to have an empowering remote work culture.Quick Improvements for Managing Distributed Team To turn your red flags green, here are some quick actions to start now. Start:Valuing behaviors, motivators, and competencies Praising innovative thinking and initiative Encouraging people to speak up and provide feedback Building traditions with your team Using team collaboration tools to help team members connect and communicate more effectivelyStop:Valuing titles and position Over-praising rules & punishing for broken rules Allowing information to flow via channels of gossip Creating silos of work and US vs. THEM situations Relying on engagement surveys to identify & measure cultureChange:Communication to a clearer, accountable, and more honest version of its former self. Allow people to ask for the “why” behind decisions, and be patient and open in explaining that. Double down on communication -- just when you think you’ve communicated enough, do more! The physical environment in ways that support your cultural values and help to shape the behavior of groups in a positive way -- now more than ever, this means enabling better remote and hybrid work environments that are rooted in trust. Any practices that are perceived as unfair. It might mean redesigning how you do things -- but remember bullet one...explaining the “why” can be game changing.Below are four long-term recommendations that will help you remove any remote work inequities, so that your remote work culture can thrive. Make Meetings a Place to Connect PWC’s Remote Work survey found that employees and employers alike prize aspects of virtual work, such as flexibility, as well as the office experience, such as in-person collaboration. Ideally, a distributed work environment can offer the best of both worlds. But just know that hybrid environments also carry the real risk of bias in favor of those who are physically working on site — and stigmatize those who are working remotely. As physical offices reopen, employees who come back to offices and prioritize in-person interactions could end up having an edge over others who remain working from home, either by choice or circumstances. It’s a subconscious bias that can lead to managers or other decision makers offering more or better opportunities to the people they see, rather than the employees on the phone or video. That said, meetings are a prime opportunity to level the playing field and create better inclusion. What follows is a short but immediately impactful list of some of the most effective ways you can start fostering a more inclusive approach to conducting meetings:Prep and send your agenda ahead of time: If you’re organizing a meeting, provide your meeting agenda one day ahead of time. By sending out an agenda in advance, you’re designing a more inclusive meeting. Be accessible: Some video conferencing solutions offer live closed captions, which appear as someone speaks, for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. There is also video meeting software available for people who are blind/have low vision and use screen readers that turn text, images, and other elements into audio or braille. Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and BlueJeans all offer live closed captions that are created by artificial intelligence. Zoom offers live closed captioning if you type them in yourself or use a third-party service. All of these programs are also screen reader accessible. Leverage all of the different features your video platform has to make it easier for everyone to contribute. For example, the hand raise feature can allow someone to signal when they have something to say, which can be useful for people who don’t like to interject. Break groups up so that people who have trouble speaking in larger settings have a chance to contribute ideas with just a few colleagues. For instance, if you’re having the team brainstorm for an upcoming project, you could split them up into smaller breakout groups for a set period of time, and then have a representative from each group report back with the ideas. The private chat function is also helpful for managers to help people who have trouble thinking on the spot. Rather than calling on someone without warning, chat them and let them know you’d like them to share XYZ in a few minutes. This will help them prepare, and they can also alert you if they need more time. As a meeting attendee, you can also use the chat feature to encourage a fellow colleague to share an important idea. Gather feedback: You could also deploy a survey that covers video meeting inclusivity. Afterwards, disaggregate the data to look at race, gender, and other demographics, and you might find larger quantities of feedback from particular groups, such as women of color or those who identify as LGBTQ+, common feedback themes or specific issues among particular identities on your team.Invest in Technology for Managing Distributed Teams In the coming year, companies will continue to rely on software solutions to improve engagement and company culture. In addition to the standard team communication and document-sharing solutions, HR teams are paying more attention to team collaboration solutions that integrate with their HRIS. Our list of top must-have tools to manage distributed teams include:Team Chat AppsWhile everyone has access to email and text messaging, businesses need to provide a special venue for spontaneous and seamless communications. Team chat software tools offer improved communication for everyone on your team. The best tools in this category allow for impromptu conversations and the ability to share messages, ideas, documents and videos.Remote Desktop SoftwareEmployees working at home might occasionally run into problems that only IT professionals can solve. It is much easier, efficient and cost-effective for IT team members to access desktops via remote software tools than visit employees’ homes for quick troubleshooting.Video Conferencing ToolsOver the past few years, video conferencing tools have become increasingly popular, helping businesses connect with remote-based and traveling workers. The remote revolution spurred by COVID-19 has brought even more businesses into the video conferencing mix. Business leaders have discovered that video conferencing tools enhance engagement, increase productivity, provide clarification in collaboration, and lower communication costs.Project Management AppsProject management apps are effective tools for in-house work as well as remote work. The best project management tools allow for improved communications and collaboration, better scheduling to keep the project on track, enhanced communication with clients, easier task delegation, standardized processes, and streamlined budget management.Screen-Recording SoftwareScreen-recording software has become an invaluable tool for employees in various contexts. For employees working in customer contact centers, screen recording instantly provides a record of every chat session with customers to help ensure quality service. Employees working collaboratively can share snapshots of online research material snippets to get to the point of an article quickly and carry on the discussion.Screen-Sharing ToolsScreen-sharing tools work in conjunction with several tools listed. Your employees can take screen recordings with screen-sharing capabilities and share them with colleagues and management in chat app sessions, video conferences, and direct communications via email and text.Cloud Storage ServicesCloud storage services help employees maintain more control over their off-site work environment, managing documents and files with more support and ease. Since employees are often responsible to help ensure data is secure and accessible, cloud storage benefits have become invaluable remote work tools.To-Do List ToolsMost of your employees have repetitive daily tasks or steps to complete multifaceted processes that can get lost in the mix without special attention. It’s easy to get distracted in any circumstance — but especially when working remotely. To-do list tools can provide prompts and reminders to keep employees on track.Wellbeing AppsMany companies interested in improving employee retention are focusing on workplace wellness. Why? Because improved health and wellness leads to increased productivity, better employee focus, and company health care savings. Regardless of whether or not your company has an official wellness program, you can still take steps toward healthier habits during your workday. Here are 7 seven wellness apps to consider providing for your team.Security ToolsNo matter how diligent your employees are about peak home security, they might need improved security tools — especially working with your organization’s confidential documents. Key security tools to consider include a VPN, PC threat monitoring, and secure file-sharing and cloud collaboration.Brainstorming and Mind-Mapping ToolsYou don’t want to lose your team’s brainstorming momentum because nearly everyone is working remotely. With online whiteboards and mind-mapping tools, your team can virtually maintain the collaborative nature of brainstorming.Inclusion & Emotional IntelligenceWhat most of these technologies do is connect devices and teams, but they do not build the person-to-person connection. And when your team is hybrid or remote, one of the most important critical components for a team's wellbeing and productivity is a sense of inclusion and belonging. An inclusive approach to communication requires emotional intelligence. That leads us to our next recommendation. Lead with Empathy As a leader charged with managing distributed teams, you set the example. In any team, remote or not, it is crucial to be mindful and considerate of your colleagues as whole people. While this may sound simple, we’re often not great at considering things outside our immediate range of experience. Here’s what you can do to foster this in your team.Create regular virtual opportunities for your team to meet, both formally and informally, and encourage them to share more about themselves, their families and personal interests. As a team, create and nurture an environment where it is encouraged to express a more personal side of yourself. More social communication of this kind is related to higher levels of trust in remote teams. Ask questions...demonstrate that you have listened and that you care by asking questions because you want to learn more. In addition to asking the other person questions, ask yourself questions like, “How would I feel or what would I do in this situation? Assume positive intent. Remote work and the endless flood of information and online communication can easily lead to misunderstandings, turning what was supposed to be fast and easy communication into a source of frustration. Assuming negative intentions where there are none will soon crush a team’s dynamic. Developing your empathy skills will help you escape these negative emotions and work towards better collaboration. Listen more. Encourage open communication between yourself and your remote team and its members, and focus on listening to what your employees are saying -- not just waiting to speak. To be empathetic, you have to key in on what the other person is saying, both nonverbally and verbally. Emotions can be seen and heard. You can pick up on feelings based on what the other person says and how they say it, including their tone. Identify and challenge your biases. We are all biased. People tend to approach situations with preconceived notions. It helps people feel prepared for situations. It helps people to feel in control and more comfortable. But preconceived notions, assumptions. or biases make it difficult to listen fully. Work on identifying them and challenging these biases to improve empathy and become more inclusive of different perspectives. Develop a safe space. The highest-performing teams have one thing in common: psychological safety — the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. Studies show that psychological safety allows for moderate risk-taking, speaking your mind, creativity, and sticking your neck out without fear of having it cut off — just the types of behavior that lead to breakthroughs or innovations. So how can you increase psychological safety on your own team?In the end, one of the easiest ways to practice empathy is to offer your support and tangible help. Sometimes, it is not enough to say, “I’m sorry to hear this.” Instead, say, “I’d like to help.” Or, “How can I support you?” Or, “What can I take off your plate?” Showing that you are willing to take time and energy to do something for someone else can go a long way to demonstrate you’re an empathetic leader. It shows that you are willing to invest your time in them. Empathy and emotional intelligence in the workplace allows employees to better understand each other. When employees understand each other, they can better work together, and teams can be effective and productive. Leaders have the ability to empathize, and by empathizing they inspire others to be caring, and that trickles down. The result: healthier, more inclusive, productive teams. To learn more about how Humantelligence can help you in managing distributed teams, contact us.

HR's Role in Personalizing the Employee Experience
HR's Role in Personalizing the Employee Experience

Traditionally, HR departments have been the go-to touchpoint for talent acquisition, retention and growth, compliance, and benefits. Today, rapidly changing organizational needs and technologies—primarily AI and machine learning (ML)—are driving HR professionals to take on additional business-critical responsibilities, such as strategic workforce planning, optimizing the onboarding process, and personalizing the employee experience. To rise to this elevated role, HR leaders are unlocking new skills, including data literacy, technology expertise, talent optimization, and more. Taking these five key steps helps ensure your business doesn’t just keep pace with change, but also stays one step ahead of it. 1. Improve your data literacy Organizations collect more financial, workforce, and operational data than ever before. As a result, companies are starting to recognize the importance of breaking down data silos and making data more accessible to those who need it. When businesses democratize their data, they enable employees to deliver more actionable insights, lead organizational change, and drive growth. The ability of HR teams to intelligently interpret and act on that data will be what distinguishes their success rate. You might not find “data literacy” in many HR job descriptions, but it’s an increasingly important skill, ensuring that HR professionals can take advantage of the vast amounts of data available in the modern workplace. Peer-to-peer interactions are a great place to begin improving data literacy. HR leaders should collaborate with subject matter experts within the organization and consider data analytics training options. Investing time and resources in data literacy will pay off greatly in an increasingly data-driven climate. However, accessing and understanding data is just the first step. Next, HR professionals will have to practice storytelling—namely, translating data into actionable insights. To do so, you can expect to take on more robust analytics capabilities in order to connect data points to key business outcomes. For many businesses, this may initially appear like a seismic shift in approach, but if anything, it’s the opposite. The HR teams of the future are already using augmented analytics to deliver smarter story-based reporting, finding the human aspect behind the data. 2. Embrace AI and ML HR has shifted to a skills-based economy—and AI and ML are at the heart of that change. AI is not only essential for building a skills-based people strategy and personalizing the employee experience, but also for automating repetitive manual tasks and driving efficiencies across different company processes. In addition, solutions with natural language processing (NLP) can surface insights surrounding employee sentiment with greater clarity and precision. Any approach to HR that doesn’t take advantage of AI is destined to fail. When it comes to strategy, AI is already driving major changes in how HR teams function. AI can help to identify patterns across vast amounts of data that may otherwise be overlooked. By providing real-time analysis and automated recommendations, AI enables business leaders to pinpoint specific areas for improvement. The most forward-thinking organizations are already using AI- and ML-driven technologies to make more informed decisions and reduce friction across employee workflows. For many businesses, the prospect of integrating AI and ML technologies with an existing product suite can be daunting, which is why Humantelligence uses many of the employee communication tools you already have. AI represents an incredible opportunity to rethink the entire employee experience with new levels of insight and personalization. Over the next five years, AI will reshape how HR teams handle people management issues, predict future skills gaps, recommend career moves, and much more. 3. Take a strategic seat at the table Where HR was once viewed as a trusted partner, it is now looked to as a strategic leader. New technology increasingly relieves HR of repetitive manual tasks, leaving time for more forward-looking responsibilities. The time is now for HR to take on greater responsibility in leading organizations through the changing world of work. HR can now collaborate closely with business partners to:Understand and plan for current and future skills needs Create strategies to build, buy, or borrow requisite talent Provide managerial insight to boost team performance and productivityAn organization’s people can be its most valuable resource but also one of its most significant expenses. As a strategic business partner, HR has the opportunity to take the lead in managing people in new and innovative ways. With increased access to critical data, HR leaders can take a more commanding seat at the table, informing critical business decisions and driving key outcomes by drawing connections between talent and business performance. 4. Master skills-based talent development We’re in the midst of a fourth Industrial Revolution that’s being driven by increased connectivity and automation. As with any major industrial change, there’s been a dramatic shift around in-demand skills. Many skills are becoming obsolete at the same time that new skills are emerging, such as data science or social sourcing, creating a competition for talent. This new skills-based landscape puts HR in a unique position to enact major change. As in-demand skills are changing, so too are career paths. Workers are moving from full-time to part-time work across organizations, frequently shifting into different roles to build truly individualized careers. What once was linear is now circuitous or filled with many starts and stops. As organizations continue to seek out new skills, workers will continue to move laterally to acquire them. That’s where skills-based talent management comes in. By identifying which skills are already present within the organization, which skills are needed, and the strategies necessary to fill those skills gaps, HR will shape our organizational future. By adopting the idea that skills are a currency for jobs and careers, agile HR teams can lead skills-based planning to identify internal supply and demand and create internal development opportunities to cultivate the skills your organization needs most. It’s up to HR to tackle identified skills gaps, engage the current workforce, and use the appropriate AI and ML technologies to bring the organization up to speed. By identifying which skills are already present within the organization, which skills are needed, and the strategies necessary to fill those skills gaps, HR will shape our organizational future. By adopting the idea that skills are a currency for jobs and careers, agile HR teams can lead skills-based planning to identify internal supply and demand and create internal development opportunities to cultivate the skills your organization needs most. It’s up to HR to tackle identified skills gaps, engage the current workforce, and use the appropriate AI and ML technologies to bring the organization up to speed. 5. Strive for a frictionless employee experience Competition for talent is fierce, and your people are your competitive advantage. If you can’t explain what sets your organization apart from other employers, your organization is in trouble. Candidates’ and current employees’ expectations of employee experience are rising higher and higher—and we’re not talking ping pong tables and pizza parties. Employees want to join an organization that invests in its people. A major part of that is creating a frictionless employee experience. Often there is a discrepancy between the technology we use during our “9 to 5” versus during our “5 to 9.” Outside of work, people have the information and resources they need at their fingertips—now, they expect the same when it comes to their workplaces. When introducing new technology to your organization, ensure that it feels as engaging and intuitive as employees’ consumer apps. Personalizing the employee experience isn’t complete without measuring what’s working and what’s not. Keep a pulse on employee engagement with technology that surfaces sentiment insights in real time. Invest time ensuring your employees are engaged and identifying areas for improvement, and informing your employees of actions taken. By being transparent and proactive, you promote an employee experience that’s constantly evolving and improving. Find the right partner for personalizing the employee experience HR is facing constant industry and regulatory changes, shifting business needs, and emerging technology—but HR teams can turn these challenges into opportunities to drive value at their organization like never before. Honing the five key skills in this article won’t happen overnight, but you don’t have to do it alone. Humantelligence delivers technology that evolves as you do, with AI embedded at its core. With this tool integrated into your employee communication tools, you can:Boost employee engagement and team productivity Help team members collaborate more effectively Elevate and integrate enterprise learning into the flow of work Recruit and engage the right talent Personalize the employee experience Empower your employees and match them to the right opportunities Create effective talent and learning plans

4 Ways HR Can Enable Stronger Manager-Employee Relationships
4 Ways HR Can Enable Stronger Manager-Employee Relationships

Managers are the conduit through which employees receive important communications, understand company values, and experience belonging, growth, a sense of purpose, and so much more. Their influence is impactful — and the manager-employee relationship is perhaps the most important one in an organization. Many of us are probably familiar with one of the most profound Gallup finding that managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. What can HR leaders do to assist and positively influence  manager-employee relationships? Manager-employee relationships: Managers are struggling and want help from HR A report from UKG earlier this year found that 46% of managers said they were likely to quit because of job-related stress. Like everyone else, they are affected by accelerating change at work and economic uncertainty. But unlike individual contributors and even leaders, managers are caught in the middle — expected to deliver on the demands of the business and to guide, coach, and relate to their reports in very humanistic ways. Hybrid work environments, along with employees’ changing expectations of their employers, have altered the manager’s role. At the same time, organizational support of key drivers of managerial effectiveness is declining. A 2023 study from Red Thread Research showed that organizational clarity on what employees need to do to succeed in the future fell 10 percentage points to 38% from 2021 to 2022. Data-based insights about team engagement declined by 7 points to 33%. According to Red Thread, this lower level of support drives employees’ view that their managers are less effective, even though employees view their manager’s behaviors as mostly unchanged year over year. Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement research shows that managers want more help from HR, but only a quarter always get the support they need. Just under half receive some support, and about a third receive support either rarely or not at all. The bottom line is that organizations — specifically, the people in charge — have the responsibility and ability to adopt practices that will strengthen manager effectiveness and, ultimately, the manager-employee relationship. The outcomes are well worth the effort. In fact, Red Thread’s research reveals that companies with effective managers realize a higher NPS and greater engagement. Employees trust managers the most Without transparency and accountability, there is no trust. And without trust, everything becomes a steep hill to climb for the employee, the manager, and the employer. Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement report shows that while employees trust their team members the most (68%), managers are a close second at 63%. It makes sense to continue to build on this trust by strengthening the manager-employee connection. Great conversations are a cornerstone of healthy manager-employee relationships. And research shows satisfaction with performance and career development conversations correlated to higher engagement, productivity, and intent to stay. To distill all this research to its essence, if HR leaders can, with the support of leadership, provide the support, resources, and tools to foster healthy manager-employee relationships, their organizations stand to reap positive outcomes — in engagement, productivity, and retention — far above the effort they put in. The key is communication, and here are 4 ways you can help your managers improve communication with their teams. Have managers set a clear vision for the team to sustain manager-employee relationships Managing challenging behaviors – such as steamrolling or overanalyzing – takes planning and communication on your part. It’s important to play to your people’s strengths and direct their energy toward common goals. The tone of your workplace has a lot to do with setting expectations – and that’s your job. When beginning a project, gather the right team members together to talk about objectives and goals. How does the project support the company’s values and vision? How does each person’s role support the goals? Everyone should be on the same page, working toward the same outcome. How the team arrives at the final goal may look different to each person because of their individual work style or energizer. So, it’s up to you to focus or redirect their strengths, make sure they understand their roles, give feedback along the way, and give them the support or independence they need to do great things. Remind team managers to assume nothing. You know what they say about assuming things! So as hard as this may be, come into the conversation with a clear head and an open mind. Giving the conversation’s participants the benefit of the doubt will help prevent them from getting defensive, which of course, will make conversation even more difficult and work to strain manager-employee relationships. This is an opportunity to practice compassion. Ask questions about people’s experiences and listen to what they say. Important things will be said and the better you listen, the better the people having the conversation will listen to each other. We all want to be heard and recognized, and this approach will put you in the right mindset to more effectively listen to your colleagues, even when it’s things that are hard to hear. You'll start to see stronger manager-employee relationships blossom. Use GRIT to approach conversations No, not grit…but GRIT: Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth. According to Laurie Sudbrink of Unlimited Coaching Solutions, “No one likes to be confronted. Most appreciate being helped. When engaging in a conversation to help, our intent will come from a better place. We won’t feel like we’re confronting the person, and our disposition aligns more naturally. I find it helpful to have an opening statement that portrays my intent. And then commit to being fully present and helpful throughout the dialogue.” Make work more human through technology Role play, or at minimum, putting yourself in the other’s shoes is an effective way to prepare for and practice tough or potentially uncomfortable conversations. Write down what you want to say and be clear on the goal of the conversation — what do you want someone to leave with? as an “a-ha” or action item? Rehearsing what and how you want to say something will help you keep the conversation direct and on track — avoiding distraction and saying hurtful things that may cause further issues or conflict. Further, this is where technology can come in to help. The basis for many interpersonal conflicts at work is poor communication; and poor communication often results from misunderstanding or a lack of truly understanding your conversation counterpart. If you had personality insights for the person with whom you’re communicating, you’d be able to take a more custom approach to the conversation. Whether it be in video meetings, on the phone, via email, or chat, you could have the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another right at your fingertips – taking all of the guesswork out of it. Here’s how it works. Every team member takes a scientifically validated, 12-minute personality assessment. The plug-in then delivers those insights through the tools you use everyday: think tools like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Gmail, calendars, Zoom, Slack, Webex, and more. When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this plug-in automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication with peers. Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers in an easy-to-understand way. As a team leader, you’re able to lay a strong foundation for more inclusive and efficient communication and for team members, along with:Creating more balanced, diverse & agile teams Optimizing team members’ impact by tapping into the unique behaviors, motivators & work energizers of each person. Experiencing the increased productivity that comes from improved team effectiveness.As a team member, you’re able to:Gain deeper understanding of one another, allowing better connection and ability to work through conflict Create deeper, more meaningful connection that translates into more effective collaborations and higher quality relationships at work Feel more engaged in your daily workProvide your team managers with tools that allow them to better understand others’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers, along with preferences and tendencies related to communication, learning, and influencing, you can better craft your delivery — taking their style into consideration before you engage – customizing communication in ways that increase your chances of a positive outcome. That’s going to be your key to more engaged employees, strong manager-employee relationships, and better team performance.

Mastering Collaboration: Your Guide for Working Effectively with Gen Z
Mastering Collaboration: Your Guide for Working Effectively with Gen Z

In today's workforce, collaboration -- specifically collaborating with Gen Z -- is key to achieving success. And as organizations become more diverse, it is essential to understand and effectively work with team members from different generations. In particular, Generation Z (Gen Z), which refers to individuals born between 1997 and 2012, has unique characteristics and work styles that require HR professionals and team leaders to adapt their strategies. From embracing AI tools to providing training tailored to Gen Z, this article will help you navigate the challenges of working with Gen Z team members and foster intergenerational dynamics for a more collaborative and productive workplace. Understanding the Gen Z mindset Understanding the Gen Z mindset in the workplace is crucial when it comes to collaborating with Gen Z. As digital natives, Gen Z individuals have grown up surrounded by technology, which has had a profound impact on their thoughts and behaviors. This generation values instant gratification, diversity, and individuality. They are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and desire for meaningful work. Understanding these characteristics will enable HR professionals and team leaders to tailor their approach and create a collaborative environment that resonates with Gen Z team members. One way to understand the Gen Z mindset is by recognizing their desire for continuous learning and growth. This generation thrives on new challenges and opportunities to acquire new skills. By providing ongoing training and development programs, organizations can harness the full potential of Gen Z team members. Moreover, acknowledging their preference for a diverse workplace will foster an inclusive and collaborative environment. In the next section, we will delve deeper into strategies for effectively communicating with Gen Z team members and how to leverage their digital skills to drive collaboration. Stay tuned for an in-depth exploration of the Gen Z mindset and practical tips for working collaboratively with this generation. How to create a collaborative work environment Creating a collaborative work environment is essential for effectively working with Gen Z team members. This generation thrives in environments that promote teamwork, communication, and collaboration. Here are some strategies to foster collaboration: 1. Encourage open communication: Gen Z team members appreciate transparency and value open communication. Create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their ideas, opinions, and concerns. Regularly schedule team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and one-on-one check-ins to facilitate open dialogue. 2. Embrace flexible work arrangements: Gen Z individuals value work-life balance and appreciate flexibility. Consider implementing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible working hours. This will help them feel empowered and motivated to contribute their best work. 3. Utilize technology tools: Gen Z team members are tech-savvy and comfortable with various digital tools. Leverage technology platforms and collaborative software to streamline communication, project management, and document sharing. This will enhance productivity and efficiency. 4. Foster a supportive culture: Create a culture of support and empowerment, in which team members feel valued and encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives. Recognize and reward their achievements, and provide constructive feedback to help them grow professionally. By leading with these strategies, you can create a collaborative work environment that engages and motivates Gen Z team members, leading to increased productivity and better outcomes for your organization. Leveraging technology for collaborating with Gen Z Leveraging technology is paramount for effective collaboration with Gen Z team members. This generation is highly skilled in utilizing digital tools and expects to have access to the latest technology in the workplace. By incorporating technology into your collaboration efforts, you can enhance communication, streamline project management, and foster a sense of connectedness among team members. For example, it is wise to invest in a psychometric-based tool that helps teams better understand each other so they can collaborate and connect more meaningfully in meetings, on Slack, or via email. Utilizing technology doesn’t only bridge the generation gap but also makes the younger generation feel valued and needed in the workplace.  Investing in collaboration platforms and applications will also enable real-time communication and document sharing, eliminating the need for back-and-forth emails and increasing efficiency. Gen Zers are accustomed to instant messaging and video conferencing, so consider implementing tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams for seamless communication.  Fortunately, it’s also easy to leverage AI tools to kick your training and internal communication up a notch. Say you have a new Gen Z hire that needs to email the head of sales, John, every week with reported leads. The problem is, they hardly know John, and have no idea how John likes to consume information. With an AI tool that utilizes your company's previously recorded psychometric data, the new hire can use pre-supplemented suggestions to ensure their emails are comprehensive and useful for John, despite having never interacted with him before. This AI-fueled approach to “on-the-fly” training can extend beyond emails to all communications, ultimately helping Gen Z employees learn new skills and making their contributions to the business more impactful. Additionally, project management tools such as Trello or Asana can help keep everyone on track, assign tasks, and monitor progress. By utilizing technology in these ways, you can create a collaborative work environment that aligns with the preferences and expectations of Gen Z, ultimately leading to improved teamwork and successful outcomes. Communication strategies with Gen Z team members Effective communication is essential for successful collaboration with Gen Z team members. This generation has grown up with instant messaging and social media, and they prefer quick and concise communication methods. Here are some strategies to enhance collaboration through communication: First, establish clear expectations regarding communication channels. Discuss with your Gen Z team members which platforms they prefer for specific types of communication, such as formal emails for official updates and instant messaging for quick questions or updates. Second, encourage open and transparent communication. Gen Z team members value authenticity and appreciate when their opinions and ideas are heard. Create a safe and inclusive space where they can freely express themselves. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of visuals and multimedia in your communication. This is, after all, the video generation! Gen Z team members respond well to visual content, so consider incorporating infographics, videos, and images to convey information in a more engaging way. By implementing these communication strategies, you can foster a collaborative environment where Gen Z team members feel valued and can contribute their best work. Nurturing a culture of inclusivity and diversity Nurturing a culture of inclusivity and diversity is crucial when working effectively with Gen Z team members. This generation values equality and appreciates a diverse and inclusive work environment. Here are some ways to promote inclusivity and diversity within your team: First, educate yourself and your team on the importance of inclusivity and diversity. Understand the different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences that each team member brings to the table. Encourage open dialogue and discussions about diversity-related topics. Second, establish inclusive policies and practices. Consider implementing initiatives such as unconscious bias training, diverse recruitment strategies, and equal representation in decision-making processes. Celebrate and recognize the contributions of every team member. Encourage a culture of appreciation and respect for diversity by giving credit where it is due and acknowledging the unique skills and perspectives that Gen Z team members bring. By creating an inclusive and diverse work environment, you can foster collaboration with and innovation among Gen Z team members, leading to better overall team performance. Recognizing and appreciating Gen Z contributions Gen Z team members are incredibly talented and innovative individuals who bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table. Recognizing and appreciating their contributions is essential for fostering collaboration and maintaining a positive work environment. Here are some ways to ensure that Gen Z team members feel valued and appreciated: Firstly, provide regular feedback and recognition. Gen Z employees thrive on feedback and appreciation for their work. Take the time to acknowledge their achievements and skills, whether it's through a simple thank you note or a public commendation in team meetings. By doing so, you are not only boosting their morale but also motivating them to continue delivering exceptional results. Next, provide opportunities for growth and development. Gen Z employees are keen on continuous learning and professional development. Offer them opportunities to attend workshops, conferences, or training programs. This investment in their growth will show that you value their career advancement and are committed to their long-term success. Lastly, involve Gen Z team members in decision-making processes. Their fresh perspectives can offer valuable insights and innovative solutions. Encourage them to participate in brainstorming sessions or include them in projects that require creative thinking and problem-solving. By doing so, you are empowering them to contribute to the team's success and instilling a sense of ownership in their work. Acknowledging Gen Z team members for their contributions is crucial for creating a collaborative and productive work environment. By offering feedback, providing growth opportunities, and involving them in decision-making, you are not only fostering their professional development but also maximizing their potential to drive innovation within the team. Overcoming challenges working with Gen Z While Gen Z team members bring immense talent and a fresh perspective to the table, it's important to acknowledge that there may be some challenges in working with them – just like any generation that’s entered the workforce. Understanding and addressing these challenges can significantly enhance collaboration and teamwork. One common challenge is the need for constant feedback and validation. In fact, new studies show that at least a couple of times a week, more than half of Gen Z, 54%, want praise from bosses for their efforts at work, according to data by Australian research firm McCrindle. Almost three in five Gen Zers seek constructive feedback about how they can improve in their role at least a couple of times per week. Gen Z is also accustomed to receiving instant gratification and may expect constant praise for their work. As a leader, it's crucial to set clear expectations and provide constructive feedback regularly while balancing praise to maintain motivation. Another challenge lies in effectively managing their technological reliance. Gen Z employees are highly tech-savvy and prefer digital communication channels. It's important to establish clear boundaries and guidelines for communication to ensure effective collaboration while also providing opportunities for face-to-face interactions to foster stronger relationships within the team. Additionally, Gen Z employees value work-life balance and prioritize flexibility. To ensure their productivity and satisfaction, consider offering flexible work hours or remote work options whenever possible. By addressing these areas, leaders can create a collaborative environment that maximizes the potential of Gen Z team members while maintaining productivity and teamwork. The benefits of effectively collaborating with Gen Z In the end, collaborating effectively with Gen Z team members can bring numerous benefits to an organization. Harnessing their unique skills and perspectives can lead to innovative solutions and fresh ideas. Gen Z employees are often tech-savvy and can offer valuable insights into utilizing digital tools and platforms to streamline processes and enhance productivity. By encouraging collaboration, leaders can tap into the creativity and resourcefulness of Gen Z team members, leading to increased efficiency and problem-solving capabilities. Furthermore, effective collaboration with Gen Z team members fosters a positive and inclusive work culture. By embracing their need for constant feedback and validation, leaders can build a supportive environment where individuals feel heard and valued. This, in turn, boosts morale, motivation, and engagement among Gen Z employees, resulting in higher job satisfaction and decreased turnover rates. Embracing collaborating with Gen Z for organizational success Collaboration is an essential component for organizational success in today's fast-paced and evolving business landscape. This is especially true when it comes to working effectively with Gen Z team members. In this article, we have explored the numerous benefits that come from collaborating with Gen Zers in the workplace, along with different tactics that can empower you to build successful partnerships with this talented generation. From their tech-savviness and ability to offer valuable insights into digital tools and platforms, to their creativity and resourcefulness, Gen Z team members bring a fresh perspective that can enhance productivity and problem-solving capabilities. By embracing their need for constant feedback and validation, leaders can create a positive and inclusive work culture that fosters high morale, motivation, and engagement. We have also discussed the challenges that may arise when collaborating with Gen Z employees. However, armed with the actionable strategies and techniques, you will be well-equipped to overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of collaboration with Gen Z team members. If you’re looking for ways to tailor your onboarding, training, and collaboration strategies for Gen Z, we can help.

Toxic Workplaces: What, Who and How to Fix it
Toxic Workplaces: What, Who and How to Fix it

At many companies, workplace culture is becoming increasingly toxic, and recent layoffs in the tech industry are only worsening the problem. In fact, 45% of employees agree that recent layoffs have intensified a climate of toxicity across companies, according to a new research report on toxic workplaces by TalentLMS and Culture Amp. But what exactly leads to the development of a toxic workplace culture – and what can be done to address the toxicity? In this article, we’ll explore what constitutes toxic workplaces, how to address it, and the main drivers that lead to toxic workplaces.  What Do Toxic Workplaces Look Like? Many of us feel frustrated or stressed at work from time to time, but there’s a difference between a frustrating work environment and a toxic one. “Toxic” is a powerful word, but it’s also ambiguous, so we’ll start by defining what we mean by toxic workplaces. A report, which surveyed 1,000 employees across U.S. tech companies who self-identified as working in toxic workplaces, leverages MIT Sloan’s The Toxic Five framework. This framework examines a toxic work environment through the eyes of employees working at a toxic company. While each company has its own set of unique challenges, MIT found that these five culture attributes have by far the largest negative impact on how employees rate their company culture: disrespectful, non inclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive. Employees who believe they work in a toxic environment also agree that their organization is:Disrespectful: Employees want – and need – respect from their managers and peers. 42% of respondents experiencing toxic culture at work agree that managers are often disrespectful to employees. Non inclusive: Even in 2023, inclusivity is still a challenge. 40% of respondents who work in toxic workplaces state that there are still barriers to overcome due to discrimination. Whether it’s on the basis of age, race, gender, or something else, discrimination is commonplace in toxic work environments. Unethical: Ethics and trust go hand in hand, and in an unethical workplace, a lack of trust surfaces. 43% of those surveyed agree they’re expected to work outside of what they’re recognized – or contracted – for. When consistently treated unethically, employees are far more likely to criticize the culture and eventually leave the company. Cutthroat: Throwing a colleague under the bus, stealing credit, and refusing to collaborate are all indicators of a cutthroat, competitive environment. 44% of respondents working in toxic workplaces agree that it is common for employees at their company to be left out of key projects, calls, and decisions. Abusive: More than 60% of survey respondents claim that abuse at work happens regularly or sometimes.What’s even more confronting is that 49% of those surveyed in the TalentLMS & Culture Amp survey say they don’t really say or do anything when falling victim to toxic behaviors – and 29% say it’s because they don’t believe it will make any real difference. How to Address a Toxic Workplace Culture Your corporate culture is the heart of your organization. A toxic culture will only yield dire outcomes, so it’s important to take proactive steps to identify, address, and mitigate any signs of toxicity at work. It is important to recognize that the toxic behaviors described in this research can have serious negative impacts on both employees and organizations. In their most extreme form, they can put the mental health of employees seriously at risk. But even moderate levels of these toxic behaviors can severely impact organizational performance by undermining employee motivation, diminishing the strength of the employer brand, and increasing regrettable attrition. The best way to address a toxic work culture is to start at the top – with leadership. The Role of Leadership Leadership plays a critical role in shaping culture at work. Leaders have a considerable influence over employees, as they are responsible for cascading desired behaviors or decisions across the company. When leaders are honest, accountable, kind, and considerate, employees will strive to embody those characteristics. But unfortunately, the survey found that:43% of survey respondents feel that leaders are turning a blind eye to toxic behaviors 45% believe executive-level leaders promote unhealthy competition among their workforce 47% agree that there’s a lack of leadership and accountability within their companyWhen leaders lack accountability, aren’t considerate to employees, or exhibit distasteful behaviors, employees will amplify these actions across the organization. Senior leaders are role models, whether they like it or not. The way they behave at work creates powerful social norms that can impact how the rest of the organization behaves. Additionally, their decisions can lead to the creation of structures and incentives that result in, often unintended, harmful consequences to employees. What is a Toxic Leader A toxic leader is a person who has responsibility for a group of people or an organization, and who abuses the leader–follower relationship by leaving the group or organization in a worse condition than when they first found them. Toxic leaders must not be confused with leaders who make mistakes. We all make mistakes and get things wrong from time to time. The difference is whether we treat it as a learning opportunity or keep doing the same thing over and over again. According to Leadership Forces, toxic Leaders are self-serving. They do not care about the organization or the people within it. They treat them as a vehicle to help them get where they want. They are motivated by personal ambition and usually lack self-awareness. Leadership Forces categorize the following six key characteristics of toxic leadership: Autocratic The leader makes the most out of their position and authority to make things happen. They impose their will without stopping to consider the ideas and opinions that come from their team. They are focused on maintaining tight control and are intolerant of mistakes. Communication tends to be directive and top-down rather than ‘two-way’. You can spot people who have a tendency towards these characteristics through their language. They might say things like:‘We don’t have time to discuss this…’ ‘This is the situation and this is what you are going to do’ ‘I’ve got so much on my plate…’They complain about not having enough time because they are poor at delegation. The only jobs they delegate are the ones they don’t want to do. They view delegation as a way of ‘making life easier for me’ rather than developing their team members. Narcissistic Narcissistic leaders have an exaggerated sense of their own importance. They believe that they are special in some way. They have an excessive need for admiration from other people and lack empathy when dealing with others. They might say things like:‘I did/achieved this…’ They rarely point to the work of the team that contributed to the success. “Your personal problems should be left at home, you’re here to work.’ Like all toxic leaders, these traits can deliver success in the short-term.Manipulative The manipulative leader is similar to the narcissist as their focus is still on themselves. These individuals will abuse their position, relationships, and organizational systems for their own gain. They’re harder to spot than the narcissistic leaders as they are often sneaky and hide their activities. They know deep down that what they are doing is wrong but they will justify their behavior by saying things like ‘it’s not personal, it’s business.’ Intimidating The intimidating leader will bully their subordinates and those around them to achieve their aim. They are manipulative and have a tendency towards ‘ruling with an iron fist’. Their subordinates will not offer ideas or challenge them for fear of disapproval or ridicule. Overly Competitive The overly competitive leader has a ‘win at all costs’ attitude often leaving a trail of damaged and broken individuals who have failed to keep up with their pace. They have a win at all costs attitude that means that they are quick to make decisions and rarely have time for input. They think that they have high standards and are inspiring. In reality, they create more losers than winners. Discriminatory The last toxic characteristic is that of the discriminatory leader. They do not value diversity and surround themselves with people of the same ilk. These leaders do not want to be challenged by people with different points of view so they surround themselves with ’yes’ men. Damian Hughes describes these people well. In his work with professional sports teams, he’s found managers who surround themselves with ‘truth tellers’ or ‘time tellers.’ When down 1-0 in a 60-minute game, a coach might turn to his coaching staff and say, ‘what do you guys think?’ The time tellers will purse their lips and say ‘there is 30 minutes to go.’ The truth tellers will tell them what they think they should do – even if it is the message they don’t want to hear. For example, ‘take your son off, he’s having a bad game…’ There is a significant difference. One of these people has courage and provides value. These six characteristics rarely live in isolation. Toxic leaders tend to lean towards being a combination of a few of these behaviors. Either way, they are focused on the short-term game and what they can get out of a situation as opposed to the long-term game and what is best for the organization and the team. If left unchecked, toxic leadership is what leads to a toxic culture. Fixing Toxic Workplaces Fixing a toxic work environment requires leadership to intentionally reverse toxicity. In other words, to develop a healthy workplace culture, they need to model healthy behaviors. However, toxic behaviors and norms can be hard to unlearn, especially if they’ve become ingrained in the wider culture. That’s where training can help. Employees upskill and develop as part of their roles, and many expect leaders to do the same. Training specific to managers and leaders would effectively combat toxicity, which could potentially inspire other employees to change behaviors, too – leading to a company-wide transformation. For example, Humantelligence is a tool for daily coaching that uses behavioral science to drive real change by helping managers better understand their own and their team’s behaviors, motivators, and ideal work energizers. Managers often have busy schedules, so HT embeds these insights into existing workflows (like Slack or email) to make learning a daily practice. The Keys to Culprits of a Toxic Workplace We’ve explored what a toxic workplace looks like and how leaders can step up to address toxicity at work – but what causes this toxicity? With 46% of software industry employees suffering burnout due to a toxic work environment, it’s critical to understand how toxicity surfaces. Understanding what leads to a toxic work culture is crucial to preserving your bottom line, keeping employees engaged, and retaining your best talent. Although toxicity emerges in different ways and from different places depending on the organization, research has found that the most common drivers are:Off-the-clock work: Work-life balance is crucial to employee wellbeing, and when employees are expected to be available at all hours, their trust and motivation diminish. They feel like their humanity isn’t being recognized, and stress begins to mount. Without the ability to truly disconnect from work, employees’ behavior and mindset will likely become more negative. This negativity slowly grows and spreads, creating a toxic environment. Poor leadership communication: A highly toxic environment is created when leaders withhold information. Without transparency around the business, employees may become anxious and lose direction and trust in the company. They feel like important decisions are being made without considering their viewpoint, which can leave a big divide between employees and leaders. A lack of consideration for colleagues: When employees feel that colleagues aren’t considering their feelings, the work environment can quickly turn toxic. A lack of empathy in interactions can translate into dismissive or rude behaviors, leading to animosity among employees.All this said, the best way to take action and identify the drivers of toxicity in your organization is to survey your employees. The only people who can tell you how your employees feel are the employees themselves. When provided a channel for feedback, employees are more likely to share candid thoughts about their experience at your organization. If toxicity is brewing in certain areas, a survey with open-ended questions and free response fields can be a safe space for employees to let you know what’s going on – beyond the simple ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ that most surveys offer. If you’re looking to create a more positive employee experience, we can help.

How to Lose an Employee
How to Lose an Employee

While certainly longer than the 10 days from the movie, did you know that your employees will decide in just a short 45 days if your organization—your team—is right for them? And sadly, more than 20 percent usually decide it’s not. In this article, we're sharing how to to lose an employee in the hopes that you don't! Spoiler alert: Don’t worry, this isn't a how to lose an employee article...we also give you 3 ways to save an employee in 45 days if you keep reading. In most cases, the number one reason a team member leaves is because of the manager-employee relationship. In fact, a GoodHire survey found that 82 percent of workers would quit a job because of a bad manager or friction with their boss. When you factor in the loss of productivity your team experiences when they leave, the gut punch to morale, and the time you invested in finding your new hire—which is often double the amount of time they actually spent on the job…we’re talking upwards of a 90 to 120-day hiring process—it’s really expensive and painful to lose new employees, or any employee, to issues like this. So here's how to lose an employee fast. Here’s How to Lose an Employee Quickly Play hard to get… As a people leader, your job is hard. You’re both a strategic leader and have to balance the day-to-day tasks and goals for yourself and your team members. Most of your day is consumed with 1:1s, team meetings, project-specific meetings, and reporting up to executive management. Your time is stretched thin, so while you’re not eluding your new hires intentionally, it could come off that way to them.  The first 45 days of managing a team member is like the honeymoon phase. You’ll have to set aside time each day to check in with them, while scheduling formal meetings. Add in a series of exploratory conversations and key questions so you can gain insights into your new employee. Find out what they like (or don’t) about their new position, learn about their expectations, and solve budding problems quickly. Serve up cookie-cutter training & onboarding… Of course, the administrative, IT, and general company overview are entirely necessary components of any onboarding process. But, when you stop to consider that every new hire is a unique individual with different ways of learning, communicating, and retaining information, it only makes sense that training and onboarding is personalized to each individual. Does it take more time, effort, and planning? Sure, but it also ensures your new hire feels valued—like they belong and are worth investing in—which results in increased employee satisfaction and motivation and a higher likelihood of retention.  Undervalue diversity of thought… Many of us are creatures of habit and doing something ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ just feels comfortable. But being closed off to different ways of doing things, new ideas, or other ways of working is a surefire way to create conflict between yourself and team members. Plus, managing people in ways that are comfortable to you, in ways that expect people to adapt to your working and communication styles, usually doesn’t lead to innovation, breakthrough ideas, or creative problem solving. When you create a team dynamic that allows people to bring in diversity of thought, the unique experiences of their background—and they know you’ll be open to it without fear of penalty—you’ll create a strong foundation of belonging and begin to achieve team goals in ways you might not have considered before.   Why the Manager-Employee Relationship Matters So Much You are the conduit through which employees receive important communications, understand company values, and experience belonging, growth, a sense of purpose in their work, and so much more. Your influence is impactful and often underestimated — and, in fact, the manager-employee relationship is perhaps the most important one in an organization.  According to this Gallup finding, managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. When there’s a focus on improving the employee-manager relationship, the outcomes are shown to be well worth the effort. For example, RedThread’s research revealed that companies with effective managers realize a higher NPS score and greater engagement. Positive manager-employee relationships management can increase productivity, creativity, innovation, and collaboration, while reducing employee absenteeism and turnover. Similarly, a report from UKG earlier this year found that 46% of managers said they were likely to quit because of job-related stress. Unlike individual contributors, managers are caught in the middle — expected to deliver on the demands of the business and to guide, coach, and relate to their reports in very humanistic ways. Hybrid work environments, along with employees’ changing expectations of their employers, have shifted the manager’s role and level of support needed. In fact, Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement research shows that only a quarter of managers get the support they need to manage distributed  teams. Under half receive some support, and about a third receive support either rarely or not at all.  The bottom line is that organizations — specifically, those leaders with the most authority — have the responsibility and ability to adopt practices that will strengthen manager effectiveness and, ultimately, the manager-employee relationship. Besides that, why run the risk of losing good employees to something so solvable? 3 Ways to Save an Employee in Less Than 45 Days When you don’t make the time, provide templated training, and undervalue diversity of thought, you’re sure to create friction—and it can show itself in a variety of ways. If you find yourself saying things like:‘We don’t have time to discuss this…’ ‘This is the situation and here’s what we’re going to do…’ ‘I’ve got so much on my plate…’ ‘That’ll never work…’You are probably building friction with your employees, damaging the manager-employee relationship, and don’t even know it—that is, until they quit. When employees pick up vibes that you don’t like them or their ideas, that they’re not being treated fairly or feeling valued, or the differences in communication styles are causing misunderstandings, they’ll start to think of an exit plan. And who can blame them? It’s simply self-preservation. So before all that happens, consider that these three things can help you build positive manager-employee relationships that will encourage better productivity and collaboration among teams. When there’s mutual respect between a manager and a worker, there’s more willingness on both ends to offer support and perform well. Understand what makes your employees tick It’s no great secret that everyone works in different ways and that diverse working styles or work energizers can often clash and lead to conflict. Nothing hurts productivity and growth like a manager and employee who don’t know how to work together. All employees have different styles of working that draw on their strengths and weaknesses. And these different styles or work energizers make up a team dynamic. For teams to work together effectively, they should be aware of each other’s ways of working, and leaders need to be able to manage different work styles to their advantage. As a team leader, you have to understand and manage a variety of work styles every day to be effective. So let’s start with a quick little assessment. This test might sound a bit like you are at the eye doctor, but we promise it will be painless. Simply pick option 1 or 2 for each of the following questions:When it comes to solving problems, do you tend to be more  (1) Deliberate or (2) Decisive? When it comes to relating to people, do you tend to be more  (1) Reflective or (2) Outgoing? When it comes to your work pace or level of urgency, do you tend to be more  (1) Steady or (2) Spontaneous? When it comes to processes and procedures, do you tend to be more (1) Cautious or (2) Freeform?Now count up your ONEs and TWOs. If you end up with 3 or 4 ONEs, your overall work style is oriented toward stability. If you end up with 3 or 4 TWOs, your overall work style is oriented toward change. If you end up with 2 ONEs and 2 TWOs, you bring a balance between stability and change orientation. On any given team and depending on size, you may want at least two different types of work styles present. At minimum, you’ll want to understand a person’s work style and then figure out how to use it best.  There’s a popular decision-making practice where employees assume different thinking hats. For example, one employee may be tasked with coming up with new ideas. They’re encouraged to bring unpredictable or possibly outlandish ideas to a meeting. Another employee is then tasked with being more discerning. They ask questions and assess the risks of different ideas. By assigning team members a specific hat, at different times, for different projects, it opens up space for more inclusive discussions where a variety of ideas and perspectives can have a seat at the table. It’s a great way to bust dreaded group-think that often stifles innovation. This approach shows that every work style is a strength when expressed in the right situations. Tailor training to your employee’s personality When it comes to training, the old “one-size-fits-all” tactic just doesn’t cut it anymore. Just as in other facets of their lives, they expect a personalized experience. With a more tech-savvy workforce than ever before, online learning platforms are a big hit. Some organizations are even rethinking training content altogether and how they can better cater to diverse learning appetites, ensuring greater effectiveness in the long run. Fortunately, training and creating an environment that values continuous learning doesn’t have to take a ton of time and is easy when you leverage AI.  For example, say you have a new Gen Z hire that needs to email the head of sales, John, every week with reported leads. The problem is, they hardly know John and have no idea how John likes to consume information. With an AI tool that uses your company's previously recorded psychometric data, your new hire can use pre-supplemented suggestions to ensure their emails are comprehensive and useful for John, despite never meeting or hardly interacting with John. This AI-fueled approach to “on-the-fly” training can extend beyond emails to all communications, ultimately helping your employees learn new skills and making their contributions to the business more impactful. When you support your new hires like this, you’re setting them up for success and building a strong relationship out of the gate. Foster a sense of belonging When a team can see and understand how each person brings unique work-style strengths to the team, their capacity for better collaboration increases. Use a psychometric-based assessment to measure your team’s unique culture and determine the shared strengths of the team, as well as each individual team member. Then use your team meetings to talk about how those differences have benefited the team. Ensure you actively bring in your more reflective team members, as they may not readily volunteer what they are thinking. Tap into people who are wired for a specific topic. For instance, ask your freeform team members to come prepared with some new ideas. Leading team meetings with intention makes the meeting outcome more productive, and it allows you to draw on different team members’ strengths.  Here’s an example of how you can better manage a real go-getter on your team. You’ll want to be very direct with this employee. Tell him where he stands, what needs to be done, then get out of his way and let him do it. He’s all about getting it done. This team member will appreciate knowing where he stands with you. Meeting each employee where they are when you interact with them in meetings will go a long way toward fostering the trust you need to execute on the vision you have set for the team. How to Lose an Employee: “It’s like a Manager's Cheat Sheet for Working with Others” But we know what you’re thinking…how can you possibly expect me to keep track of everyone’s learning styles, communication preferences, and work styles? The good news is that you don’t have to. With every interaction, with any employee—new hire or not—you can see the personality traits of your colleague to understand what motivates them and how to best communicate with them.  We told you earlier that we know how to find out these things about your coworkers. We asked employee Ray to take a 10-minute assessment, and we learned that Ray is inquisitive and likes to gather as much information as possible. Now, when you reach out to Ray, you won’t feel defensive or bombarded by all of Ray’s questions because you know he thinks like a “Scholar” and that’s what scholars do. What’s even better, you don’t have to track, monitor, or remember any of this. With every email and interaction, you can simply write your message and then have generative AI re-write in the way that best suits Ray’s personality. No more friction. Just productive conversations and meaningful connections. 

How to Use Employee Listening to Guide Your Return To Office Strategy
How to Use Employee Listening to Guide Your Return To Office Strategy

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced a mass adoption of remote work, little attention was paid to the long-term implications of a new model for work, and what a return to office strategy might look like. Many celebrated the rise in remote work for the increased flexibility it promised. Increased remote work offered a bigger talent pool, more work-life balance — particularly for caregivers — and the end of onerous commutes. And early numbers showed that remote work increased productivity. As the immediate threat of COVID-19 recedes, will more companies start to question the wisdom of long-term remote work and institute return to office? Making the case for return-to-office Power Home Remodeling, No. 13 on the 2023 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® List, is currently on a hybrid work schedule with a majority of its corporate employees in the office three days a week. The company, headquartered in Chester, Pennsylvania, has been slowly adding days of in-person work to its schedule, one day at a time, ever since the immediate risks of COVID-19 subsided — a transition that has been necessary for their employees' well-being. Power Home Remodeling hopes to one day make the transition back to full-time in office when the time is right for their people. “I think that people are happier and healthier and thrive when they are in-person and when they are sharing the same space with one another,” says Asher Raphael, co-CEO of the full-service exterior home remodeler. A big part of the philosophy for Power Home Remodeling is in response to the impact of remote work on younger employees. Researchers told The New York Times that remote work enhanced productivity for senior employees, but reduced feedback and oversight for more junior employees. Young employees are not getting the mentorship and training in remote roles that can be found from in-person work. When asking its 3,700 employees to return to the office, Raphael focuses on the responsibilities that co-workers have for one another. “We spoke to employees about what their role in our community is, and that what the data clearly showed from virtual work: people that were the most hurt were newer people,” Raphael says. “For those people, their overall happiness wasn’t as high … their retention wasn't as good, and it’s because they weren’t receiving the type of mentorship, they weren’t creating the types of relationships, they weren’t being led the same way.” Power Home Remodeling has strong values around service and working for something that is bigger than oneself, which the company has invoked when asking employees to return to the office. Even if it was more convenient to work remotely, employees were open to a message about the importance of coming into the office to support their colleagues. “The overwhelming majority of people felt either an initial want to come back, or they felt a level of responsibility for the other people around them,” Raphael says. Listening and responding Even though the company is adamant about its desire to bring employees back to the office, leaders are making a concerted effort to listen to employees. Raphael boils it down to one essential question: “What were the things that employees didn't enjoy about being in-person every single day that are in our control and are not mission-critical?” Power took time to investigate company norms that no longer served its needs, even down to the dress code. “Our dress code was corporate attire — I wore a suit and a tie to work literally every single day for 18 years,” Raphael says. “That was something that people really didn’t want to go back to, and that’s an example of something that you can change to make people more comfortable.” Power also saw an opportunity to support working parents by helping to subsidize $416 a month of childcare costs. “It doesn’t go far enough,” Raphael says, “but it was a really big help in supporting people that had no childcare costs while working remotely … so that they don't feel like they’re having to make a decision between putting their kid in daycare or making a living.” Letting the lease expire Creative Alignments, a small recruiting firm based in Boulder, Colorado, was no stranger to remote work before the pandemic. A portion of the company’s total headcount had already been remote prior to the pandemic, and flexible schedules were the norm, said Shenna Fitzgerald, marketing director for Creative Alignments. “During the pandemic, obviously we pivoted to working remotely and staying safe,” she said. “And we really found that it worked well, and there were a lot of benefits to it as well.” Work-life balance is one of the strongest reasons for the change, Fitzgerald continued, with an all-remote setup enabling employees to better manage their schedules, focus on work and take care of their personal lives without needing to commute. “I think people really do cherish that flexibility,” she said. The company also has benefited from a recruitment standpoint, as remote work has allowed it to expand its reach beyond the Boulder area. That, in turn, has allowed Creative Alignments to attract a more diverse talent pool, Fitzgerald said. She noted that, given the company’s experience with recruiting candidates for other firms, its staff were aware of the importance that candidates place on flexibility in the current market. For the duration of 2020, the company kept its office space open to those who wished to attend while instructing employees to communicate with each other so as to ensure sufficient space for social distancing. Few took advantage of the opportunity. “Our lease was up in January and we decided not to renew,” Fitzgerald said, “because remote work was working well, and that’s what people wanted.” But Creative Alignments still recognizes that in-person gatherings have a place; the company meets every other week at a local club for an all-hands meeting, followed by lunch and additional team meetings. And in the future, Fitzgerald said the company has not entirely ruled out opening a physical space that employees can use if they so choose but there are no plan for a return to office policy. Going slow for return-to-office The most important thing when deciding on your workforce arrangement is going slow. Leaders should continue to listen and work with employees as companies attempt to add more in-person workdays to the weekly schedule, or decide if a full return to office is what employees want. As a workforce, we had to upend people’s routines when we were forced to go remote. We now have the freedom to not do that and give people time to build up a new routine and to embrace change, however that looks for them. Whether you end up introducing hybrid or permanently remote work environments, be sure the technology and resources you provide employees is designed to foster human connection, effective communication, productive collaboration,  and meeting effectiveness -- that could spell the difference between a satisfied and engaged team or one heading for the door.