On Thursday, June 6th I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Wellbeing @ Work event in New York. It was an eye-opening day filled with exceptional speakers and interesting perspectives on wellbeing were shared.
Havas was invited to talk about Meaning in the Age of the Employee and how the consumerization of the employee experience is intrinsically linked to your people’s overall wellbeing.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll highlight some of our top-level thinking around that subject with some key thought starters worth mulling over!
Today, I want to share a few thoughts from the day that I keep coming back to. Things that were mentioned across a few of the different speakers’ topics that I believe are fundamental to employees feeling ‘their whole self’ at work and for employers to concentrate on when looking to build an environment where their employees’ wellness is a priority.
Homogenization isn’t just about looks.
As keynote speakers go, we were extremely fortunate to have Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia kick off the day. Claude shared personal anecdotes about her journey with VaynerMedia and the steps she took to forge a career that matched her principles and allowed her to lead and build in the way she wants.
A lot of great content and advice was shared, but I keep coming back to Claude’s point about a homogenized workforce. It’s natural for a company that was founded by a few friends to grow and employ friends of those friends – then friends of those friends, but as growth increases that friend network can become very harmful to company culture, morale, and ability to innovate.
Now, if we park the inevitability that these employees will all most likely resemble one another and look at some other issues of ‘going with who you know’ we can see that all of a sudden you have a workforce that has a relatively similar profile. They have all the same reference points, they approach opportunities and problems in the same manner, and probably view the purpose, meaning and value of work in a pretty uniform way.
For a current employee, is this environment going to give them the confidence or freedom to shake things up and try something new – to be who they are, not just another version of everyone else? For a candidate, are they going to feel like they can add anything to your company, or that they’ll need to compartmentalize elements of who they are to fit in?
Essentially, it’s another way to look at the move from hiring for cultural fit to cultural add, but I would say we need to go a step further and begin to start hiring for cultural miss. What types of people are you missing in your culture, what types of skills, approaches, ways of working and thinking will unlock your people’s potential further? Every new hire is an opportunity to add a little bit of a change agent to the mix to keep pushing your culture further.
Rethinking indicative proof points for future performance.
I’ll preface this by saying, I’m not sure how many of us are ready to ditch degree requirements from our job roles, but when Annette Alexander of WP Engine and Ann W. Marr of World Wide Technology spoke in their session about removing degree requirements from a large chunk of their jobs, it made me wish that we could!
This is something that’s been on my mind for quite a while. I’ve been talking with friends and colleagues and asking them if they could do it all over would they have gone to their alma maters and studied the same subjects, gone elsewhere to learn something else, or even skipped school and just gone into the workforce sooner. Very unscientific, but these conversations have been interesting. Very few people would have taken the same path they did. Most would have gone to different schools to study different topics, but a few (like me) would have been happy to just get right into the working world.
When I was looking for a job in advertising, the thought of getting an opportunity anywhere without a degree or some internship experience was crazy to me. But in the (relatively) short time I have had a career the whole landscape of advertising/media/content has shifted. Some high-school aged students have a better grasp on branding and forging meaningful connections with people than folks who’ve spent their lives doing that work.
And this is something we’re seeing across industries. There is this massive pool of self-starters out there who are being ushered into a 2-4 year holding pattern before corporations deem them worthy of contributing. This seems like a huge waste to me. Capturing their passion for work, for creating things, for building communities bigger than themselves shouldn’t be put on hold.
Every aspect of the working world is transforming today and will transform again completely in the next decade or so. If how we evaluate people, identify who can contribute, or even where we look for the next big hire doesn’t completely change too – we’re going to be training and hiring people to enter a workforce that no longer exists!
Walking the floor matters so much
Interestingly, this point was mentioned by a handful of speakers at the Wellbeing event – and it’s something I’ve certainly heard at other events and from some of my mentors over the years. Yet, it’s so important when creating a meaningful environment where your employees can feel healthy that it’s always worth mentioning again and clarifying what this is and what it should not be. As a leader, a colleague, a new joiner, or even someone who thinks they are the lowest rung on the ladder ‘walking the floor’ is one of the greatest things you can do. It’s about stepping outside of your work for a moment and appreciating your environment, your coworkers, and your place. It’s a moment to build camaraderie, to check in on a human level, and to celebrate, commiserate and experience all the wonderful emotions that come with being a human being!
It has nothing to do with making sure people are working, are at their desks, are getting their job done. We have other ways to measure and observe that. “Walking the floor” is the opportunity to foster community, to humanize yourself and your teams. To check in and show you care – and maybe get a little care back in return. It’s building that connection between others and yourself. A chance for everyone to show they’re not just automatons working away, but that we’re all people looking for a little extra love in a crazy world.
And this just isn’t about the people you are in the same physical location as. ‘Walking the floor’ with your remote workers is just as, if not more, important. Are you checking in with them in the same way? Are they able to virtually ‘walk the floor’ If needed in other locations or departments?
It only takes a few minutes to check-in with someone and wish them well – to show them you appreciate them. It’ll take much longer to invoke that appreciation if all you’re ever doing is asking them for work or work-related updates.
Agency Director, Havas People USA
Onboarding can be a tricky task – boiling down every bit of a person’s career into a consumable experience without overwhelming them is quite a thin line to balance. Even deciding where to start can be overwhelming for the *lucky* soul in charge of the onboarding process!
But onboarding doesn’t have to be a challenging mountain to climb, so long as you stick to the three bones of onboarding:
Your new hire is coming into your organization with a unique background and experiences, which will shape their experiences and interactions with your organization. Gather information about their background and how they may apply their experiences to understanding your organization. Once you do this, it will help you position the onboarding process in a way that’s specifically relevant to them.
2. “Just in Time”
Now that you’ve boiled down a person’s career into one L&D platform with 30 hours of compliance training loaded, compiled a 100 page PDF of resources, and set up 15 meetings with key stakeholders for new hires, you’re done right?
This is way too much information for anyone to absorb, much less apply. But it’s all critical information, so what do you do? You deliver the information when it can be utilized. This method of learning is shown to be more effective – applied knowledge is stored and remembered more easily than unapplied knowledge.
Getting your team involved in the onboarding process not only takes the pressure / onus off you, but it also creates a more immersive experience for your new hire. With the full team involved in their onboarding, the new hire will feel like they’re part of the team more organically and, ideally, faster.
This also helps the team empathize with the new hire’s experience, and allowing everyone to be accountable for the new hire’s success.
These three bones are the foundation to an effective onboarding process, but there’s much more that goes into fleshing these out to build an experience that is relevant to your people.
Interested in learning more? Contact us!
Late last week I started to see a number of tweets and posts from “prominent” sports journalists lamenting another round of layoffs at a major sports entertainment company. These layoffs affected everyone from longstanding on-air talent, to new, emerging data whizzes, and the support staff behind the scenes who make everything possible.
In total, something like 100+ people were let go. A big chunk in an ever-shrinking industry. The company doing the layoffs hasn’t always had the best reputation as an employer and certainly was catching backlash for this most recent cost-cutting manoeuvre. And that’s worth mentioning because what I saw in the posts from the actual ex-employees was rather impressive. Sure a few folks took the opportunity to stick it to their old employer, but the majority were actually very sincere about the time they spent there, the work they did, and most frequently the people they worked with.
Many of these people are obviously media trained and would never publish something that could jeopardise their career, but the amount of honest love for their colleagues whom they wouldn’t share an “office” with anymore was really astounding.
For all the faults of their former company, the people who were and are still employees built something important there. What they built was a community of coworkers who grew into a family. It’s because of that familial feeling that I wasn’t reading a bunch of nasty gossip or negativity about the company. I was reading and hearing genuine positivity that even in light of layoffs put the company in question in a fairly good light.
The reality of business is there are times where costs are going to be cut or hard calls have to be made. If we can cultivate a culture of togetherness and camaraderie those tough decisions won’t be any easier to make, but those individuals who do move on will hopefully do so with positive memories and impressions of their time.
Tim Middleton, Agency Director