A Holistic Approach to Navigating the New Workplace

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 workplace policies have directly affected this. Research conducted by Microsoft and the University of California-Berkeley found that remote work made relationships between co-workers more siloed and reduced collaboration.

However, investigations in 2018 and 2019 revealed that UNICEF’s mission-related “results at all costs” culture had fostered bullying and harassment, and triggered many departures. In our discussions with senior UNICEF officials, there was a recognition that they had unwittingly created a toxic culture by promoting the organization’s purpose in isolation. To fix this, they eventually launched initiatives to balance purpose with employee development and building connection and community.

What should leaders do?

One of the big reasons people stay at organizations is because they’re able to progress in their careers. This is a source of engagement, energy, and fulfillment that companies shouldn’t overlook.

Creating connection and community

This could necessitate the restructuring of internal processes because many organizations currently manage the four components separately: HR oversees growth and development, while the C-suite owns meaning and purpose. Companies also tend to tackle the factors sequentially rather than together, which overlooks how changes in one factor affect others.


A Holistic Approach to Navigating the New Workplace

How to foster a thriving and sustainable workplace culture to contend with the realities of the new office

The end of Covid-19 workplace disruptions has ushered in a fresh set of challenges for organizations. Chief among them has been establishing new office policies for a workforce that has largely embraced flexible work and has expressed a desire for this to become a permanent fixture.

But organizations across various sectors have implemented strict return-to-office mandates, including the tech giants that were quick to make the switch to remote work when the pandemic hit. These have often been met with resistance from employees: Roughly 30,000 Amazon workers spoke out against the company’s back-to-office policy in an internal petition, and employees at Apple, Meta, and Google have also conducted similar protests.

However, someone has to pay for this content. And that’s where advertising comes in. Most people consider ads a nuisance, but they do serve a useful function besides allowing media companies to stay afloat. They keep you aware of new products and services relevant to your industry. All ads in Quality Digest apply directly to products and services that most of our readers need. You won’t see automobile or health supplement ads.

On top of balancing these disparate needs, both employers and employees must grapple with the current uncertainties facing the workplace and society. Although employees seemingly had the upper hand during the Great Resignation, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, looming recession, and mass layoffs may have shifted the balance of power in favor of employers. Meanwhile, employers must juggle economic pressures with growing competition to attract and retain top talent.

As this one example illustrates, these factors are inextricably interconnected. Although the iEVP is no silver bullet, it can help organizations frame, address, and meet employee needs in a balanced and comprehensive way that ultimately benefits all parties involved.

Beyond material offerings

So please consider turning off your ad blocker for our site.

Once you’ve obtained these data, you can use them as the basis for conversations between the different parties. When doing so, it’s important to ensure you’re discussing the iEVP in an integrated way and are explicit about how the factors are related. This can reduce disagreements and misunderstandings around the reasoning behind key decisions.

It may also not be the most effective tactic. For instance, given that flexibility is top-of-mind for many workers, employers who adopt this strategy could be tempted to offer employees hybrid or remote working arrangements and leave it at that. However, we found that most people we spoke to who worked remotely felt less connected to their companies than when they went to the office. Organizations may end up trying to buy loyalty by giving employees something that, in fact, reduces loyalty. This doesn’t work, and it’s certainly not sustainable.

Prior to the pandemic, the most important topic among management thinkers was meaning and purpose. These are the organization’s aspirational reasons for existing and are the answer to the central question of why employees do the work that they do.

But problems could arise if meaning and purpose are addressed in isolation. For instance, UNICEF’s mission to protect the world’s children is arguably one of the most compelling and motivating purposes out there, and has long been a primary asset for attracting and keeping talent.

Quality Digest does not charge readers for its content. We believe that industry news is important for you to do your job, and Quality Digest supports businesses of all types.

These interpersonal bonds matter immensely to people, and neglecting to foster the conditions for their growth can negatively affect retention. We spoke with a young computer scientist who left a coveted role at a large financial services firm because its work-from-home policy meant no one was in the office. She decided to take a job at a tech company that required workers to report to the office at least four days a week because she valued the camaraderie and energy that came naturally with physically working alongside her colleagues.

Developing meaning and purpose

In response to this, we devised the integrated employee value proposition (iEVP) as a way for companies to adopt a more balanced approach to the process. The holistic system comprises four interrelated factors: material offerings, growth and development, connection and community, and meaning and purpose.

Material offerings are certainly important and shouldn’t be overlooked. However, approaching this in isolation tends to address only the material aspects of jobs that are relevant to people in the moment. Besides being easy for rivals to imitate or even outdo, they also have the least enduring effect on retention. An overreliance on them can result in a race to the bottom as employers strive to outbid one another for talent. Organizations should therefore integrate these immediate offerings with more long-term solutions.

Providing opportunities to grow and develop

Quality Digest

منبع: https://www.qualitydigest.com/inside/management-article/holistic-approach-navigating-new-workplace-071923.html

If you’re implementing a new or updated policy, clearly explain to existing employees why it’s necessary, how it will benefit them, and how the policy relates to the four factors. This can help employees think about its broader effects and recognize any trade-offs they might overlook. Remember that an organization doesn’t just hand over culture to its employees; it’s something that’s built collectively.

Employee needs are dynamic and should be reassessed on a regular basis. As Covid-19 showed, the world isn’t going to stand still, and organizations must be prepared to adjust accordingly. Ongoing measurement is critical to evaluating how relationships among various elements within the system may shift as tensions or reinforcing loops strengthen over time.

A third aspect of the iEVP is connection and community, the relationships employees form with co-workers. Strong social ties function as a crucial support network, foster mutual accountability, and make employees feel like they are appreciated and valued for who they are. This gives rise to an energizing culture that allows people to express themselves candidly and fosters a deeper sense of belonging.

The iEVP provides a common language to help employers and employees come to the table and facilitate a conversation. However, to implement this effectively requires commitment, time, and effort to ensure that the four factors are being addressed holistically.

Our PROMISE: Quality Digest only displays static ads that never overlay or cover up content. They never get in your way. They are there for you to read, or not.

Paying attention to this aspect of the iEVP can help align employees’ personal values and objectives with those of the company. Several studies support its importance to employee retention. For instance, research shows that some individuals will accept lower salaries for doing meaningful work, something we’ve also witnessed in our analysis of different organizations.

Published: Wednesday, July 19, 2023 – 12:01

A second element of the iEVP is giving employees opportunities for growth and development. This encapsulates the various ways in which a company helps workers acquire new skills and become more valuable in the labor market, such as training, promotions, and assigning them to new roles.

Working in collaboration with Amy C. Edmondson from Harvard Business School, we recognized that the simple strategy favored by many organizations—asking people what they want (be it flexible work, salary bumps, or other perks) and trying to give it to them—unfortunately has a major flaw. Although enticingly straightforward, this method presents a trap by focusing on the single elements that first come to mind, lending a transactional nature to the employer-employee relationship.

Against this complex backdrop, there’s a pressing need to agree on the ground rules of the new workplace and foster a culture and environment that promote employee retention and engagement, as well as organizational performance.

A holistic approach

Take, for example, one of the most significant current demands from employees: to work remotely. While some may be delighted by the opportunity to do their jobs from home (what we call material offerings in our model), for many this may come with associated costs. A Generation Lab poll that surveyed 544 college students and recent graduates in the United States revealed that 74 percent would miss the office community (connection and community) when working remotely, while 41 percent were concerned about missing out on mentoring (growth and development).

When recruiting, be sure you have thoughtful, structured conversations with candidates about the relationships among the different components. By determining whether the needs of potential employees are aligned with those of the organization, you can reduce costly hiring mistakes. Explicitly discussing the rationale underlying your iEVP can also help you craft an offer that is more compelling than those of your competitors. 

The first step is to collect and measure data about what your company is currently offering in terms of the four factors, how employees experience them, and what employees want. Companies invest countless hours and consulting fees in compensation benchmarking but rarely measure what their own employees think, particularly in terms of purpose, advancement opportunities, and community.

The final piece of the puzzle is creating something sustainable. Decisions made regarding the iEVP must not be rigid or fixed. Instead, set an “expiration date” for revisiting them to determine whether certain policies need tweaking. Companies undergoing a major merger or acquisition may need to do this more frequently.

The four factors run along different dimensions: short-term vs. long-term, individual vs. collective. However, they should be treated as interdependent parts of an integrated system and addressed holistically to ensure that a focus on one doesn’t undermine another.

Many companies tend to zone in on material offerings when trying to meet employees’ needs. Besides compensation, this includes aspects such as the physical office space, equipment, commuting subsidies, flexibility, and other perks. These are generally the easiest levers to pull, are the most straightforward to measure and negotiate, and are immediately appreciated. For example, it doesn’t take much to give a bonus, make the call to allow employees to work from home, or stock the office pantry with free snacks.

First published June 19, 2023, by INSEAD.