Two thirds of executives believe they’re being transparent about their post-pandemic policies but, less than half of their employees (42%) agree. That’s just one example, identified in Slack’s Future Forum pulse survey, of the disconnect that threatens to undermine organisations’ future success.
“The pandemic was a big wake up call that forced us all to question many things about work that we always took for granted,” explains Christina Janzer, Slack’s VP of research & analytics. “Does everything have to happen synchronously in the office, or can we enable more flexibility? Is there a different way in which people can be happier and also more productive? We’ve had this catalyst that, through a combination of needs, requirements and also great employee-driven ideas, will redesign a future of work that is so much better than in the past.”
Mind the gap
“Second to compensation, flexibility is the most important factor for people when they're thinking about where they want to work,” says Janzer. Yet, as pandemic restrictions ease and life returns to some sort of normality, many executives have expected a return to the office. That attitude is not shared by employees, leading to the disconnect that “came out loud and clear in the last round of research we did,” Janzer says. “Executives really need to focus on closing that gap. They need to think about building that connection, taking the pulse of their people and being more transparent.”
Ask Me Anything
“A digital HQ is the foundation that will enable you to be flexible and adaptable,” Janzer points out. Man Group, the financial services firm founded in 1783, shifted everyone into Slack at the start of the pandemic to better align teams and keep them productive while remote. Gymshark, the UK-based fitness brand, launches product lines with an in-house fashion show so that all employees can get up to speed on next season’s focus. The company uses the Zoom integration tool in Slack so that employees can still engage with each other and the products just as they would at a physical live launch.
Digital tools can open those lines of communication and understanding. “You can host Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions which give people the permission and opportunity to talk to executives and ask hard questions,” Janzer explains.
Asking for feedback is one thing but acting on it is another. “It’s important to be intentional,” Janzer notes. “We’ve learned from the research that executives think they’re being transparent when they're not.” Employees who feel their company is transparent are twice as likely to feel excited about their future. And those who don’t have 26% lower job satisfaction and almost 20% lower retention.
The issue of burnout is one example where executives can lead by example. “At Slack, we’ve done a lot to encourage emergency time off (ETO),” says Janzer. “It’s important for executives to partake in those programmes, take that time off and be vocal about it. We also made sure the ETO tool was front and centre for people so they didn’t have to search around for it – it was baked in.”
Flexibility = opportunity
“We have heard from people of colour, from women and mothers, that they are much more satisfied working remotely,” says Janzer. “For people of colour, one of the reasons is the concept of code-switching, where, in a physical office, they feel like they have to put a lot of extra effort into how they act, how they talk, what they wear. Enabling flexible working – both in terms of time and place – is good for so many people and especially for people who have may have been sort of ignored in the past.”
Janzer believes flexible working has the potential to “drastically” increase the amount of time that women stay in the workforce. “Previously, if you couldn’t fit the nine to five mould you just didn’t have a place but I think that is shifting now,” she says.
Get on board
The use of searchable digital channels can markedly improve the onboarding experience. “Digital onboarding is so much better than in-person onboarding,” says Janzer. “It’s no longer about getting into the room with the right person at the right time. Digital onboarding enables all of the information to be there at your fingertips. The information and the knowledge base grows and evolves, and everyone has access to it from day one.”
People have reassessed their attitudes to life, work and their values. Now organisations need to ensure they pay due attention to employee happiness and employee satisfaction - or risk missing out on the best talent.
Learn more about reinventing work and the new imperatives for the future of working with Slack.
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