While there hasn’t been much that was great about Covid, there were some silver linings. One silver lining is that some employees and some companies discovered that work could be done in places other than a brick and mortar building.
Clearly, there are many professions that must return to the workplace. Brain surgeons, pilots, hairdressers, and restaurant workers, just to name a few. But, what about the office workers? Should all of them return five days a week? Should employees split their time between home and office? Should some return but not others, or should everyone work from home?
During the Pandemic Versus Post-Pandemic
As leaders are contemplating this decision, be advised that working from home during a pandemic is much more challenging than working from home will be post-pandemic. First of all, there has been a tremendous amount of stress and uncertainty brought on by the disease and experienced by almost everyone.
Childcare and Working From Home
Second, for working parents and working caregivers, the pandemic upended existing caregiving arrangements. During the pandemic, childcare collapsed. Children previously at school all day were suddenly home for remote learning. Young children in daycare were sent home, and even those with private caregiving arrangements suddenly found themselves making different and difficult decisions to preserve the health and safety of their family.
As our communities open back up, childcare is reopening as well, and in-person learning is returning. Working from home while our children are safely learning and playing out of the home or in another appropriate situation is far different than working from home during a pandemic. This cannot be understated.
Several companies are leaving it up to managers to decide. I have never seen this work well and it opens the door for discrimination and equity issues. Why does Angela in marketing need to come in every day but Sahid in accounting doesn’t? If it’s only because Sahid has to pick up his kids from school, then the organization has just created its own equity issue.
Most employees are requesting a hybrid situation. They would like the flexibility that comes from working from home for 2-3 days a week, and also the mentorship and collaboration that is gained from being in the office the other 2-3 days a week. And no, let me be clear, they don’t want to start working 6 days a week!
While this sounds great in theory, it requires flexibility in work spaces as well. Brick and mortar building costs are expensive, and if they are routinely at only two-thirds capacity, that’s unnecessarily costly. Likewise, if managers come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays and employees come on Mondays and Wednesdays, well, collaboration just went out the door.
So, how can you find the right fit for your organization? Hopefully some of the articles below will help you identify your specific needs and possible solutions. Of course, if you choose to check in with your employees, you should be prepared to make some of the changes that they recommend rather than just continuing with the work arrangement you established. There’s nothing worse for culture than to ask employees, receive a clear directive, and still go in a different direction.
Return to Work but Not Return to Normal
Back to the Workplace: How to Plan Your Reopening
As Offices Reopen, Hybrid Onsite and Remote Work Becomes Routine
Employees Could be Heading Back to the Office Sooner Than They Think
One of the managers with whom I work regularly, Steve, reminds me that he does compliment his employees. He does! It’s true and I hear him. The problem is, when he does compliment them, his employees are so downtrodden that they barely hear him. They are so accustomed to being ridiculed and yelled at, that there’s not trust or mutual respect.
The nine-to-one ratio is a ratio I have developed to help your feedback be heard and valued. The ratio is not based on statistics and there’s no scientific analysis to back it up. It is, however, derived from many years of experience engaging with clients and witnessing human behavior in action.
As it turns out, I am 30% over the needed amount. According to a Harvard study, the average employee ideally needs six positive pieces of feedback for every negative review received.
I believe that in order to accept any negative feedback, emotionally healthy people need to hear nine genuine compliments from the giver, before even one piece of constructive criticism will be accepted. Nine to one! That’s a lot.
There are some guidelines for these compliments. First of all, you cannot rapid-fire nine random compliments in order to get to the criticism part! “I like the font you use in your documents, the way you start your emails with a greeting, your organized desk, the plant on your credenza, the picture on your wall, your coffee mug, the color of your shirt, your haircut, and your glasses. Now let’s talk about the awful job you did on your last assignment.” Instead, recognize the positives, small and large, at every opportunity.
Another ground rule is to watch out for boomerangs, or statements that start out as a compliment but are quickly undermined by a gibe. “I appreciate the work you did with our client…if only you would have worked this hard last time, maybe we would not have lost the other account.” “Thank you for taking out the trash…hopefully next week I won’t have to remind you.” Just say the compliment, and then STOP!
When we give feedback, we also want to be completely authentic. Find the things that you truly appreciate about the other person. It may seem difficult at first, but there is always something you can recognize. And when you deliver constructive criticism, consider starting with something that can be quickly and easily corrected. Some of the people in your life still may not be able to respond appropriately. The ratio might be a thousand-to-one for the short term. Recognize the situation you are working in and the person you are speaking to.
The nine-to-one ratio isn’t just for subordinates and co-workers. Do you know that CEOs, directors, and managers of organizations often feel like no one appreciates them? And, of course, remember those people closest to you as well – significant others, children, roommates, friends, and neighbors.
Let me know how the nine-to-one ratio works for you!
I have heard that once you are having an affair, it’s too late to save the marriage. I don’t know about this personally, but it makes sense.
Likewise, once an employee is actively looking for a new job, it’s hard to get him or her to remain in the existing position. One way to solve this dilemma is to conduct “Stay Interviews” every year in your organization. It can be done separately from the performance appraisal. If possible, about 6 months after the appraisal.
A Stay Interview is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an interview to ask current employees at all levels what it would take to make sure they stay.
Stay Interviews are conducted to help managers understand why some employees stay and what factors might cause others to leave. Employee turnover is costly for organizations.
In an effective Stay Interview, managers ask standard, structured questions in a casual and conversational manner. Most Stay Interviews take less than half an hour.
Click here to find a sample Stay Interview. Please modify it to fit your organization’s needs.
One word of caution: If your organization gathers this information, but doesn’t make significant changes recommended by the employees, the best employees will leave to find an organization that will value their expertise and listen to their needs.