Yesterday, we spent time with some of Silicon Valley’s Most Influential Business and People Leaders on the state of employees and company culture at the From Day One’s Event: A Forum for Corporate Values. Human-Centered Business is Here to Stay! Originally motivated by the Pandemic and the Great Re-Evaluation, orienting your leaders, teams, and culture to this fact will secure your organization’s survival into the future.
Leaders from Google, PayPal, Applied Materials, EA, various technology companies and education institutions gave us a sneak peak of what’s going on in their organizations. Topics included covid recovery, hybrid work plan results, mental health, and the emerging role of business in meeting the needs of our employees, our communities, and society at large.
As you read through, I’m curious if you sense yourself in any of these insights. Feel free to reach out, I would love to hear your thoughts. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s are are some of the key takeaways:
- Leaders are Learners – We all need to be learners. Gather employee feedback and take action from data to innovate solutions; both people and business. There is no blueprint, focus on understanding issue (not reacting), gather input, and innovate a solution to what’s emerging.
- Leaders must ‘LIVE’ and ‘MODEL’ their stated company values, otherwise employees see any work as perfunctory.
- Be brave to look at what is not going well in your organization. It’s okay to admit what is going wrong. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Bravery to face it, courage to do something about it demonstrates your character and heart as a company.
- Business is not separate from social, cultural, financial, or political events in our world – When people don’t feel safe, their work is impacted. Business leaders taking more care for workers overall well-being. ‘What’s our role?” How will we demonstrate our values?
- Re-invention taking place for ‘HOW WORK GETS DONE!” Have open discussions for how this happens in your company, in this time, given the needs of your clients, employees and business. We are playing an ‘evolving game.’ Implement what works for today, evolve it tomorrow.
- Employee Listening: understanding and underlying interest. Distinguish interest from expressed preference. Take action on preference.
- Consider the age of your employee population and preferences that exist between Boomer, Gen X, and Millennials. 2/3rds of PayPal’s workers are under 35.
- Disciplines of meetings shifting from business to human connections, relationship building, and understanding where people might need help.
- Scale culture by connecting your values to your ‘lived’ experience. Define your Leadership principles to shared values and assign 5 key leader ambassadors and a leadership committee to define the modeled actions, mindsets, and behaviors reflective of your leadership principles. This will serve as the surround sound of your culture.
Training and Leadership Support
- Leaders need support and more training to manage their teams, especially around DEIB. Many don’t want the distraction or to take time away from work, yet if people are feeling unsafe, discriminated against, this IS blocking growth and revenue.
- Leaders need more training, $$, and Education focused at the TOP, especially around DEIB. Must start at the top, so rest of organization can rally around it.
- Managers and Leaders need to be coaches, yet not all leaders are good coaches. Investing in coaching themselves along with coach/mentoring skills.
- Behaviors that model Inclusivity MUST start at the TOP – Empathy, Respect, Trust, Transparency.
- Inclusive cultures must precede diversity. Diversity can’t exist without Inclusion. Inclusive cultures are mandatory for retention.
- We all need to assume responsibility for ‘Allyship’ of all kinds, everyone is responsible for creating culture.
- Narrative or story telling of people’s journeys and backgrounds is important foundation for empathy building and understanding.
- Many organizations linking bonus structures to DEIB metrics, such as acquisition and retention of more women leaders.
- Product Development must include lens for DEIB so diversity, social awareness and impact and cultural sensitivity are embedded into product design and delivery. For example, when reviewing pricing, if you’re already making 60% margin, are price hikes necessary for the consumer?
- Inclusion includes the ability for leaders to connect employee contribution to bottom line impact. Employees want to feel they are ‘doing’ something meaningful.
Return to Work + Hybrid Work Plans
- 37% of Google employees are in hybrid/work model.
- Companies are asking employees what works for them and making that their policy.
- Plans are a set of agreement that include parameters around availability and productivity. If they are not met, the agreements are rescinded.
- Watch for bias and privilege around ‘the way work should happen’ this is being reinvented.
- Avoid orienting work hours around home office, select windows of time that work across time zones.
- Employees looking for direction and parameters from companies AND want to have a voice in shaping.
- Creating NEW compelling WHYs? For people to come into the workplace. CONNECTION is the #1 reason, so how can work spaces and collaborative events facilitate our need for connection?
- Offices ARE the New Off-sites! – Wellness, Self-Care, and Connection.
- How do you lure people in? – Be a Customer Champion and define the nature of your work and design your team work plan around this. Each team defines.
- Bring people together for certain important rituals, discussing personnel/staff planning, quarterly strategy, etc. Have team rituals and experiences done in person.
- At peak commercial office spaces utilization in the Bay Are prior to covid was at 60%, seeing this drop to 30%. Shift to remote, increase in sub-leases.
Mental Health/ Stress / Burnout
- “Burnout is about your Organization, Not your People!” – Jennifer Moss, author of Burnout Epidemic
- Conversations around employee and human Mental Fitness are happening more frequently, yet there’s still a stigma surrounding ‘not being okay.’ Conversations with managers around “how are you?” often surface dialogue that managers are not trained in and sequence about when to get HR involved are still being worked out.
- More employee centric support through On-Demand, Mobile Accessible Support: On Demand Coaching like Bravely, mental health coaching like Nivati and Sage Health and concierge health journey service, like Quantum Health.
- Educating whole organization around mental health so peer-to-peer support is enacted.
- Mental Fitness and Employee Well-Being is way of the future from a Leadership, Company and Culture Standpoint.
- Leaders need to model doubling down on Self-Care. Don’t send emails after 6, gives perception that a response is required during family time.
- Self-Care Activities include: Sleep, Eating Healthy, Exercise, Support System, Read/Journaling, Turn Phone off, Healthy Boundaries, Time to do things you enjoy, Relaxing in nature, regular physical and mental health check ups.
- Establish work/life boundaries, younger generations more likely to require and adhere to boundaries.
- Many companies closing 1 day/quarter, 2 Fridays off/ month, Wellness Wednesdays, No Meeting Thursdays, etc.
- HR is never more important, more strategic, leading indicator function of a company. Data driven convos at C-Suite, more forward in leading employee/culture experience.
- Employee surveys, feedback loops capturing Data and analytics using AI platforms like eightfold are the rise as they provide actionable data to empower and retain talent. Data revealed for one company, many workers felt they were not having check in conversations with their direct supervisors and this was meaningful, company quickly requested managers to weekly checkins.
- Use skills you already have in your workforce, use AI tools to understand how to harness and cross-pollinate skills across functionally areas. Many companies moving talent around functions within company for career path and economies of new hires.
- Layoffs not seen as an overall trend, still many job openings.
- Training in general is seen most effective when done company wide, leaders on down. Secondly, having training/skill building tied to what we are doing as a company, applied and coached to real-life business and team dynamic situations engrains learning more long-term.
- HR leaders invite other business partners and functional leaders into what training is important so everyone does the work together.
- Skills-based learning, upscaling and talent mobility, human decision making combined with AI.
What Intune is Working on:
- A Human ‘Code of Conduct’ that spans across all races, religions and identities. Brings us together vs. points to our differences. Not in lieu of honoring our stories, yet offering new fundamentals for building of a more compassionate and loving human race.
- Intune Leadership Program: Customized Learning Programming that targets specific areas of leader/team growth. Skill Building combined with Coaching to apply learning in real-life business situations, and Team Facilitation to work thru roadblocks where learning can be applied to open pathways to growth.
- Coach/Mentoring Skill Building for Leaders and Managers skill building for managers who are supporting their employees and teams as whole-humans and require new skills and awareness to see and sense themselves and then be able to extend energy and support to those they manage.
- A Framework for Businesses of the Future a new model for leadership, operations, organizational structure, and process for generating growth and value that designs around human wellness and and thriving. A model to evolve to existing outdated structures, coupled with consulting, coaching, and resources.