Employee expectations are at an all-time high, and employers must adjust their strategies to withstand turnover.
By Anthony Onesto
As The Great Resignation continues, employees at the heart of every company are reevaluating what’s important and how their jobs fit—or don’t fit—into that calculus. That means, many companies should revisit how they support their employees and reconsider workplace culture and norms that can make or break the employee experience. With many companies still uncertain about returning to the office full-time, an opportunity to bolster a relationship with existing employees and strengthen offerings to new talent presents itself. And what worked in the past might not cut it anymore.
Leaders need to take an innovative approach to managing employees in a new era. But before instituting new policies or rolling out new initiatives, integrating effective feedback tools that establish a baseline of employee needs, and regularly gauging their opinions, is critical. Listening to employees was imperative before the pandemic, and now, when teams are working remotely and scattered across time zones, it is even more important.
At Suzy, weekly employee surveys provide a way for leaders to keep a finger on the employee pulse. Insights from these surveys provide the data used to make decisions that impact the entire team. This way, employees can express their preferences about big picture questions like whether to return full-time to the New York headquarters office, and they can keep an open line of communication about that policy as circumstances continue to shift.
Suzy also utilized this data by mitigating new pandemic-related stressors impacting the team. By analyzing quantitative and qualitative trends from these weekly surveys that revealed employee preferences and feedback, leaders were able to identify areas of burnout before they became a widespread issue. The company then worked with a mental health therapist and launched organizational training sessions that covered three key skills: setting and enforcing boundaries, cultivating healing through self-care, and reframing the negative mind. This proactiveness allowed leaders to effectively manage the impact of burnout.
As employees become accustomed to working remotely, and begin making career decisions based on a company’s remote work policies, it’s important that organizations expand their conception of the physical office. In the age of remote and hybrid work, the most effective workplaces will no longer treat the office as a place for employees to clock in and out. Instead, they should function on platforms to collaborate with others, like Slack or Zoom. Shifting toward viewing the office as a collaboration tool will allow employees to gain more flexibility while maintaining the benefits of in-person meetings.
In their surveys, Suzy asked open-ended questions about how employees would like to use an office upon returning to in-person work, the frequency of which they would utilize the office, and whether or not they expected to have a dedicated desk. The company found that most workers did want to return to the office, albeit not every day, and some expected to have a dedicated desk. Other employees expected to use the office as a place to connect and collaborate with colleagues. Survey data empowered Suzy executives to create customized office experiences that epitomized the “office as a tool” concept to serve all employees’ needs.
In addition to more responsive management and more flexible workplace policies, employees are increasingly focused on corporate citizenship. The pandemic, along with the political and social justice movements of the past two years, have spurred employees to revisit what matters to them, and prioritize working at companies that do not contradict their core beliefs. Organizations that take a clear stance on pertinent issues while supporting and empowering their employees will stand out amongst the rest.
In a market that favors candidates and their expectations, companies that do not adapt to the new world of work will inevitably fall behind. As the future of work takes shape and new generations join the workforce, truly understanding and prioritizing employee needs will mark the difference between teams that are fulfilled at work, and those that are not.
Anthony Onesto is chief people officer at Suzy.