“The pandemic caused havoc in many people’s lives, but when you evaluate the impact on our industry, it has really caused a seismic shift in people’s mindset to adopt remote work.”
These were Multiplier’s CEO, Sagar Khatri’s words during the Running Remote Conference 2022 held in Montreal, Canada last month. Khatri went on to highlight how the emergence of new technology has enabled businesses to thrive with completely remote or hybrid teams.
With hybrid work gradually becoming the norm, organizations now have new questions to answer – how should companies reimagine team culture to align with the new remote reality.
Employee Needs are More Than Pay and Benefits
Organizations’ priorities are now shifting as employee resignations continue to rage in 2022. While monetary bonuses can make employees grin, it isn’t the only strategy to satisfy them.
Dietra Giles, CEO of ExecuPrep alongside Drew Calin, Global Director of Sales, Multiplier, spoke about aligning employees with companies values:
“Our values are so important because it keeps us all on the same page on what we’re trying to accomplish. And it takes us from the C-suite to the entry-level. And it’s that connection that binds us. Input and impact are more important than the others.”
Today’s employees are more “belief-driven,” motivated by positive influence and personal values. According to a World Economic Forum poll, 50% of respondents are eager to work for organizations that value work-life balance, low stress, and flexible work-from-home possibilities.
Along with beliefs and values, there is a significant emphasis on personal empowerment, such as the ability to make choices. This demonstrates a clear shift in power that was traditionally with the employers.
Flexibility By Way of Trust and Autonomy
After decades of 9-to-5s office routine, more and more employees are experiencing the value of flexibility. But this has come at varying degrees in different organizations – some have provided employees with the freedom to connect and work from everywhere, while others have adopted a “we’ll let you work from home a couple of times a week” policy.
Although employees happily grab any route to better flexibility, what they would be happier about is employers asking them what they really want. None of the above two descriptions accurately reflect what employees mean when they say they want flexibility. Here, what they appear to desire most is autonomy.
During Khatri’s fireside chat with Lila MacLellan, senior reporter, Quartz, at Running Remote, he recalled a situation at a Singapore company, in which the CEO was told by one of their employees, “You claim to be an employer of choice. If you really want to be one, then give us a choice to work from anywhere.”
In other words, flexibility means giving your employees ample autonomy over where, when, and how they want to work, along with trust. Allowing them to make primary decisions about where and when they conduct their work can be essential to any modern employee’s needs.
Strong Sense of Purpose and Belonging
Employers are still amid a talent crunch spurred by “the Great Resignation,” with workers switching to places with more work flexibility, higher-paying jobs, less stress, and/or as a result of pandemic burnout.
Employees today want to work for organizations that give them a sense of purpose, value, and belonging. They are questioning themselves, “Is this still worth it?”, “Have I given more of myself away for little return?”
According to Gartner, 65% of respondents said the COVID-19 epidemic had made them rethink the work they should have in their life. 56% percent said it made them want to contribute more to society.
Employees are more motivated when they feel valued and empowered to show their authentic selves to work.
As Calin highlighted, “The ‘value system’ is really to create a sense of belonging and understanding… a mutual agreement towards how we’re going to operate as a business.”
The key here is for distributed teams to have the same engagement, same opportunities as teams that work on-site. It is not enough to just introduce new tools for meetings and set up virtual check-ins to avoid becoming disengaged. Companies need to show that their employees are prioritized from day one.
Employee Needs Are at the Forefront of Today’s Remote First Future
As Dethra U. Giles, profoundly said in the conference, “Company culture is people and actions, not places and privileges.”
“And so when you look at your culture and you think, oh, it’s declined because we’re now remote. That’s a lie because culture is people and actions, not places and privileges. And so they took those same people and actions to a different location. Now the bad culture is location independent,” she said.
Employee expectations and experiences are intertwined with the state of the world today and are significantly influenced by the macro-economical and social factors in which we live.
Employers need to be aware of the full range of their employees’ needs to ensure their employees are able to perform their best work. Companies must start revisiting strategies to meet and exceed staff expectations by addressing employees’ well-being, flexibility, and growth.