I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

He may have achieved fame as a country music singer in the 1960’s, but Jimmy Dean’s observation could easily have been about the current state of organizational change.

The winds of change have been howling through the working world; the disruptive forces of new technologies, generative AI, the broadening scope of diversity, equity, and inclusion and the assimilation of hybrid and remote working have created a HR hurricane.

These changes are all potentially positive for business, but they are happening at a pace that has been exponentially accelerated by the pandemic. What would have been a gradual integration of the hybrid working format became a sudden and forced shift to remote working which companies either had to adapt to or be left behind.

And yet, although lockdown posed a situation where employers were forced to adjust their sails, the changes that we are seeing now can be best navigated not just by responding to the direction of the wind – but also by anticipating its patterns so to be one step ahead of it.

Here lies the big question: is your organization ready for change?

A recent report from Gartner discovered that 82% of HR leaders believe their managers are not equipped to lead change – and this is exacerbated by the fact that 77% of employees are suffering from change fatigue.

Change fatigue occurs when the volume and pace of change becomes overwhelming for employees. This can have detrimental affects on employee wellbeing and productivity, but despite this only 8% of workers feel confident in their plan to manage their fatigue.

The pace of change in the working world is not predicted to slow, so for those organizations looking to keep in stride – and get ahead of – this new pace, they need to be building change fatigue prevention strategies into their equation for organizational transformation success.

Org Transformation Equation

Currently, most employers will integrate change through clear communication paired with good training. But as we watch the corporate world evolve, so do our approaches to how change is implemented. Weaving change fatigue management into this equation ensures that managers are better equipped to coach their teams on how to effectively identify fatigue drivers, fix any that arise, and start to look at how they can be prevented altogether (this looks like normalizing rest, microbreaks, employee involvement, creating a psychologically safe space, etc.).

What is critical to these prevention strategies being successful is understanding that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to mitigating change fatigue. Different types of employees are going to need different wellbeing support – and if employers are able to look at wellbeing needs through an intersectional lens, then they will be able to efficiently support their people through the intensity of these changes.

An example of this is midlife workers; many of our established wellbeing programs are centred around younger workers (parental leave, childcare support, etc.) whereas older workers will have entirely different needs to this (menopause support, working carers support, etc.). Bridging the wellbeing gap will strengthen your efforts when managing change fatigue and ensure that the other 92% of employees feel confident in their ability to manage their change fatigue as they will have the right support in place.

This will see your business set sail on the high seas of profit, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

If you would like to discuss how we can help implement strategies around wellbeing and change fatigue, please get in touch with me at david@orgshakers.com

David Fairhurst, OrgShakers Founder

David Fairhurst is the Founder of OrgShakers. He is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading HR practitioners and is a respected thought leader, business communicator, and government advisor.

Have you met Harriet?

Co-founders Cecily Motley and David Buxton have recently created ‘Harriet’, an AI tool that is designed to automate human resources processes. It has been specifically created to be smoothly integrated into a company’s Slack channels so to provide certain HR-related services.

AI assistants are not necessarily new – especially if Siri, Alexa, and Cortana have something to say about it. But what sets Harriet apart from these helpers is that it is able to scan users’ data – as well as the organizations policies and best practices recommendations – to answer HR-related questions and complete admin-based tasks. For example, she can pull up a specific payslip or book time off on behalf of an employee.

What is even more interesting is that all messages to Harriet from employees are kept anonymous, and the tool does not store any employee data for training. If Harriet deems that it cannot sufficiently deal with a situation, it will loop in a human HR worker (if granted permission by the employee).

Virtual assistants are continuing to increase in popularity, especially in the working world. With generative AI becoming more and more common in the workplace, and many employers eager to incorporate it into their business practices, it is no surprise to see tools like Harriet begin to make their way into HR’s territory. And considering it is very likely that the next generation of workers (Generation Alpha) will expect to have a virtual assistant, ‘Harriet’ may be the beginning of the era of AI helpers.

However, before companies can unlock all the potential of an AI assistant, they first have to ensure that they are offering appropriate learning and development opportunities to their teams around AI so that its use can be effectively optimized.

Whilst it can seem relatively straightforward to interact with a chatbot and with generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, knowing how to create content that evades potential biases will help to generate the strongest materials.

If you would like to discuss how we can help with developing your company’s knowledge surrounding generative AI and virtual assistants, please get in touch with us.

It might be a new year, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the ever-growing importance of effectively navigating hybrid and remote working. That’s why this month we have been reading Remote, Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace by Gustavo Razzetti.

Being the creator of the Culture Design Canvas – a framework that helps organizations map, assess, and design their culture – it’s no surprise that Gustavo’s latest book aims to explore the secrets behind successful remote workplace cultures.

After spending years studying businesses like Amazon, Volvo, and Microsoft, Gustavo addresses the multiple key areas that are crucial for organizations to be able to operate effectively in remote and hybrid settings. This includes examining culture, how to keep a team connected, asynchronous communication, facilitating conversation, and finding and defining the right hybrid model for your business.

Gustavo outlines the five key mindset shifts that companies need to make in order to reset their workplace culture and optimize their remote working environments:

  1. Intentionally design workplace culture – this will see the active involvement of employees in this design process, and will require employers to be open to experimentation. If they are finding that something isn’t working, they shouldn’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and adjust. Involving the team in the process means you will create a culture that works for everyone – and highlight how valued your employees’ opinions are!
  2. Prioritize impact over input – working long hours and being readily available at all times are not the defining factors of an employee; performance should be measured on the results achieved! This shift in mindset will see employers encouraging employees to showcase their accomplishments rather than perpetuating the outdated ways of presenteeism.
  3. Forget traditional work-life boundaries – remote work blurs the lines between home-life and work-life, and in order to successfully operate remotely, employees need to be allowed to embrace the messy reality it can sometimes bring. Normalize interruptions from children or furry friends, and be more lenient to dressing down when working at home. This helps ensure the home remains a sanctuary that still symbolises comfort and rest.
  4. Collaboration doesn’t have to be synchronous – in hybrid workplaces, it’s important to acknowledge that everyone works according to their own timetables. Embracing this flexible and autonomous approach allows individuals to optimize their productivity and discover their peak working hours.
  5. Delegate decision-making to empower teams – get your teams involved with creating their hybrid working policies and empower them to have a say in how and where they work. This solidifies the culture of autonomy that threads through all these mindset shifts and helps to create a more fulfilling workplace experience.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the book, Gustavo explores why the ‘office’ doesn’t equal ‘culture’, and how to build psychological safety in a hybrid working world.

Our OrgEssentials team specializes in start-up and transformation, and so if you would like to discuss how we can help bring these remote working practices to life in your workplace, please get in touch with us!

And if you would like to get your hands on a copy of Remote, Not Distant, you can head over here for the UK and here for the US.

After discussing the world of HR consulting with Sarah Hamilton-Gill on her podcast, Leap Into HR Consulting, we moved onto looking at the four fundamental shifts that I predict we will be seeing in the near future that HR professionals need to be preparing themselves for.

The first of these shifts was the Workforce Cliff, and the second was the importance of the relationship between humans and technology. This leads me onto my third fundamental – the redefining of the workplace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a fundamental reappraisal of both the Place and Time of work. Pre-pandemic, we were seeing the workplace boundaries of time and geography begin to evaporate as businesses were responding to the increasing pace of organizational change. The pandemic, however, catalysed this shift even further and has seen it accelerate on a global scale.

The most obvious impact has been to the Place of work – pre-pandemic, it was relatively unusual for workers to be working remotely, with Pew Research Center discovering that before early 2020 just 7% of workers worked from home full-time. Now, over one-third (35%) are working remotely on a full-time basis, with many more employed on hybrid contracts.

This forced reinvention of the Place of work has now spawned a reappraisal of Time of work. Before lockdown workers synchronized their time with colleagues by working the same set office hours which would be punctuated by face-to-face meetings. However, with the introduction of home working came the ability for these individuals to flex their working hours to accommodate their personal schedules.

This led to the realization that asynchronous work – work that is done independently from others – was not only possible, but often more productive.

So, what are the implications of Place and Time for HR?

Graph showing impact of Place And Time on worker productivity

As Lynda Gratton explores in her book Redesigning Work, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to optimizing Place and Time in the workplace. Instead, HR needs to assess the positives and negatives of each to determine the opportunities that can be created – and the trade-offs that would be made.

And now, as Place and Time become more flexible, so do the importance of policies that are applicable on a global scale. With the boundaries of Place and Time being broken down by remote work, employees can now operate from anywhere in the world, meaning that asynchronous working patterns may soon become the normal style of work. Therefore, employers who are actively engaged with optimizing their Place and Time, as well as harnessing AI-driven technologies to help employees become their best selves, are the ones who will find themselves at a more comfortable distance from the edge of the Workforce Cliff. If you would like to discuss how to begin strategizing – and optimizing – the Place and Time of your workplace, please get in touch with me at david@orgshakers.com

David Fairhurst Orgshakers Founder

David Fairhurst is the Founder of OrgShakers. He is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading HR practitioners and is a respected thought leader, business communicator, and government advisor.

Learning and development (L&D) opportunities are a vital ingredient for employers when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Research from the IMC confirms this, with 92% of job candidates using L&D opportunities as a deciding factor when considering job offers, as well as 52% of employees citing that they left a role due to a lack of personal and professional development opportunities.

One skillset that many workers are keen to learn is generative AI skills, with more than 50% of employees stating they were eager to acquire those skills, according to Randstad’s Workmonitor Pulse. However, only one in ten workers were offered any AI training in the last year.

Pair this with Access Partnership’s survey which found that an overwhelming 93% of employers expect to use generative AI in the workplace in five years, and what you begin to see is that employees want to learn to master AI, employers want to implement AI…but there is a significant lack of L&D training opportunities around AI.

In the past year, we have seen generative AI platforms like ChatGPT take the working world by storm – but the narrative surrounding its uses in the workplace have been inconsistent. While some view this technological change as something that will replace certain jobs altogether, others view it as a tool to be collaborated with [AS1] to improve and perfect the human skills that are paired with it.

In order to start getting the most out of AI and offering L&D opportunities that allow for this skill development, employers need to first get a good and clear understanding of what generative AI can do for their specific business and in what areas it should begin to be implemented. While this could be a very effective time-saving tool – freeing up time for employees to focus on more meaningful work – it doesn’t necessarily have to be used just for the sake of using it. Identifying its strengths and weaknesses will allow organizations to create a clear roadmap for navigating generative AI, unlocking its full potential.

But a key part of this journey is offering the appropriate training to employees on how to use these new tools. It can be daunting to attempt to use generative AI without having a proper understanding of it; if employers are able to provide the essential training, suddenly all the myths surrounding AI will begin fading away, along with that initial fear of misusing it. As an example, take a look at this infographic on how best to communicate your requests to ChatGPT in order to get your desired results:

Ai Infographic

As the tools at our disposal continue to expand, it is important for companies to keep in stride with this burgeoning toolkit and offer L&D opportunities that allow for the development of these new skills that are quickly becoming essential ones.

And it is of the utmost importance that these opportunities are made available to all workers; unconscious bias around age can perpetuate the idea that older workers are less tech-savvy and so will be given less opportunities to grow their technological skillset, but as proven by our recent article, this isn’t the case!

This holiday season, one of the best gifts you can give your team is the gift of nourishing their hunger for opportunities to learn and develop! Those employers who do will have the strongest talent as they venture into the year ahead. If you would like to discuss how we can help provide training and workshops around generative AI in your workplace, please get in touch with me at andy@orgshakers.com

In today’s digital age, social media has become an integral part of our lives, both personally and professionally. A global analysis of social media usage found that 74% of North America use social media, along with a whopping 84% of Western and Northern Europe.

It is therefore no secret that a company’s social media strategy can play a huge role in the success of their business. That’s why it is so important for employers to establish and implement a well-defined social media policy, as it will help to provide a clear framework for employees’ online behavior, protecting both the company’s reputation and the rights of its workforce. After all, 68% of consumers follow brands on social media to stay informed about products and services, so ensuring that your message is consistent across the board is imperative for strengthening the bottom line.

Here’s what every employer’s social media policy should cover:

  • Protect Brand Reputation – a brand’s image can be easily tarnished by an employee’s careless or inappropriate social media activities. Ensure that your social media policy establishes guidelines for employees on how to represent the company online, as this will allow for the content being shared to align with your brand values.
  • Legal Risks – there are numerous legal risks associated with social media, including harassment, discrimination, defamation, and intellectual property violations. Your policy needs to be clear and concise about what is considered unacceptable behavior and the consequences for said behavior in order to mitigate these risks.
  • Evolving Trends – your social media policy needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the constant changes and evolutions that take place in the world of social media. With new platforms and trends emerging all the time, it is important to keep this policy regularly updated and refreshed.
  • Professionalism – social media policies should reinforce the importance of maintaining a professional online presence, including clauses about avoiding hate speech, discriminatory language, or inappropriate content that can come across poorly.
  • Privacy Boundaries – privacy is a significant and legitimate concern in the digital era, so your policy must educate employees about respecting company and personal privacy. By establishing clear boundaries, you will mitigate the risk of confidential information being inadvertently shared or mishandled, therefore safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining trust amongst your team.

While a social media policy can at first glance seem restrictive, it can actually have positive effects on employee engagement. By providing guidelines for online interactions, employees can feel more confident in their social media usage knowing they are representing their employer in a good light, subsequently leading to increased job satisfaction and fostering employee loyalty.

Additionally, in times of crisis, a social media policy can be an invaluable tool. It can offer guidance on how to address and respond to negative situations (such as customer complaints or public relations challenges).

If you would like to discuss how we can help your company craft a strong and effective social media policy, please get in touch with us!

Buzzword lovers, rejoice. There’s a new phrase circulating the corporate social media sphere: grumpy staying.

If you are yet to come across it, ‘grumpy staying’ refers to an employee who remains in their current role while being openly frustrated, less productive, and visibly agitated with their working environment – but avoids doing anything to improve their situation or attitude. With the cost-of-living crisis still continuing, many workers do not feel at liberty to just up and leave their job, hence leading to a rise in this trend.

At first glance, this would sound like the diagnosis of a ‘bad apple’ employee. But if we dig a little deeper, it is highly likely that an employee isn’t just frustrated for no reason – even if they are reluctant to (or don’t know how to) communicate this.

What might be more productive for employers to do is view ‘grumpy staying’ as a symptom of a larger issue – by diagnosing it at its root, they will be able to remedy it and ensure that other employers do not spiral into these same feelings of frustration. So, what are some possible causes of ‘grumpy staying’?

  • Toxic work environment – this requires looking at the culture of the organization; is it inclusive? Is there constant conflict? Are there a number of complaints about bullying? Having HR conduct a culture audit is a great way of getting to the bottom of this.
  • Lack of career development – 75% of employees believe that it’s important that their employer invests in their personal development. If an employee feels that they don’t have a clear path for development because of a lack of developmental opportunities, this may be leading to them feeling stuck, and subsequently ‘grumpy staying’.
  • No work-life balance – in the modern working world, especially with the post-COVID carpe diem mindset – work-life balance has become a swaying factor for many employees’ contentedness at work. This is confirmed by Randstad’s 2023 report which found that 94% of employees believe work-life balance is important – so if they feel they are not being afforded it, this may lead to ‘grumpy staying’!
  • Personal issues – if, as a manager, you notice an employee acting out of character, this may be a sign that something is going on outside of the workplace. This would be a great opportunity to schedule a one-to-one and discuss how you have noticed a change and wanted to check-in, creating a space for an open dialogue where the employee will feel more comfortable being honest.

Of course, there are instances where someone is frustrated because they feel unfulfilled at work, and this can be tricker to approach as an employer. However, one strategy we have found for this is the idea of creating ‘squiggle room’ – that is, offering job crafting opportunities where suitable to foster innovation and allow an employee to bring some of their personal passions into their working life. This can be a great way of boosting morale and warding off the ‘grumpy staying’ attitude.

If you would like to discuss how we can help your company find the source of this ‘grumpy staying’ and prevent it from affecting productivity, please get in touch with us.

In an era of escalating cyber threats, the symbiotic relationship between Human Resources (HR) and cybersecurity has never been more pivotal. Typically seen as the custodians of employee wellbeing and organizational culture, HR professionals are crucial in reinforcing a company’s defence mechanisms against cyberattacks.

By facilitate regular training sessions and workshops, HR can help to ensure employees are well-versed in recognizing and addressing potential cyber threats. Cultivating a security-aware culture is foundational to minimizing vulnerabilities, such as phishing attacks and social engineering tactics.

Below are a list of different ways HR can bolster cybersecurity initiatives and maintain robust enforcement:

  1. Strengthening Recruitment Protocols:

By implementing rigorous recruitment processes, HR can ensure that candidates possess a sound understanding of cybersecurity principles. Evaluating a candidate’s cyber hygiene can be as essential as assessing their professional skills, fortifying the organization against internal and external threats.

  1. Policy Formulation and Enforcement:

HR is integral in crafting and enforcing policies that delineate acceptable use of organizational resources. Transparent, comprehensible policies related to password management, use of personal devices, and data handling can significantly diminish the risk of security breaches.

  1. Encouraging Responsible Digital Behaviour:

Promoting a culture of responsibility and accountability regarding digital actions is paramount. HR can champion this by conducting regular reviews and updates of cybersecurity protocols, emphasizing the importance of adherence to established procedures.

  1. Employee Exit Management:

When employees leave an organization, HR should oversee the proper offboarding process, ensuring the revocation of access rights and the return of company assets. This mitigates the risk of former employees misusing sensitive information.

  1. Collaboration with IT Department:

By fostering a cooperative relationship with IT departments, HR can promptly address employee needs and concerns related to cybersecurity. This collaborative approach aids in maintaining a secure and resilient digital infrastructure.

  1. Addressing Insider Threats:

Insider threats, whether malicious or unintentional, are a substantial risk to organizations. HR can mitigate this by conducting thorough background checks, implementing strict access controls, and maintaining a vigilant approach to anomalous employee behaviour.

  1. Confidentiality and Data Protection:

HR is often the custodian of sensitive employee information. Upholding stringent data protection measures and ensuring the confidentiality of employee data is pivotal in maintaining trust and thwarting potential breaches.

  1. Fostering a Reporting Culture:

Encouraging employees to report suspicious activities or potential threats without fear of reprisal is essential. HR can develop precise reporting mechanisms and assure employees that their concerns will be addressed promptly and discreetly.

  1. Proactive Risk Management:

HR can assist in identifying and assessing potential risks related to human factors. HR contributes to developing a proactive risk management strategy by conducting regular risk assessments and audits, enhancing organizational resilience.

Integrating HR in cybersecurity initiatives is not just beneficial—it’s imperative. HR professionals can significantly enhance an organization’s cybersecurity posture by fostering an environment of awareness, responsibility, and collaboration. The convergence of HR and cybersecurity strategies ensures the alignment of human potential with technological resilience, creating a robust defence against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. In this interconnected age, where the human element is both the first line of defence and the most significant vulnerability, the role of HR in maintaining cybersecurity is undeniably pivotal.

At OrgShakers, we can help you usher in a new era of collaboration between HR and cybersecurity teams by synergizing your efforts, strengthening your defences, and building a future where the security and wellbeing of your organization is mutually reinforced. If you would like to discuss creating a cybersecurity roadmap in conjunction with your HR function, please get in touch with me at sayid@orgshakers.com

Recognised globally as the ‘Father of Modern HR’, Dave Ulrich’s thought-leadership has shaped our profession for decades. His most recent book, Reinventing the Organization – written with Arthur Yeung – maps out how employers can reinvent their organizations to flourish in fast-paced and fast-changing markets.

At OrgShakers we think this book should be on every HR practitioner’s bookshelf. However, being published just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that some may have missed it during the challenging months that followed.  That’s why, for International Read a Book Day, we wanted to shine the spotlight back on Ulrich and Yeung’s ideas at a time when they have become more relevant than ever.

In brief, Reinventing the Organization explores a six-step framework for leaders to transform their business into a Market-Oriented Ecosystem (MOE) – a fluid, fast-moving organization unified around a compelling, market-oriented purpose.

In order to start reinventing an organization into an MOE, there are six dimensions that need to be considered:

  1. Environment – very successful companies will appreciate and anticipate the trends and changes in their business context: social, technical, economic, political, environmental, and demographic.
  2. Strategy – simply put, how entrepreneurs aim to grow their businesses and through what paths. Successful leaders don’t just seek market share, they anticipate and create market opportunity.
  3. Ecosystem capabilities – companies that are taking advantage of and sharing information about each person’s or team’s knowledge and other strengths and becoming truly customer-centric, innovative, and agile.
  4. Morphology – the most successful companies have created new organizational forms that enable their teams to capture market changes, quickly generate ideas, experiment, close unprofitable trials and make big businesses out of the successful ones.
  5. Governance mechanisms – the best organizations make their ecosystem truly connected and collaborative by sharing culture, performance accountability, ideas, talent, and information.
  6. Leadership (at all levels) – the top leaders redesign the organization’s morphology and set the context and rules for self-driven units to operate, as well as facing the challenge of encouraging a culture that empowers and orients employees.

Ulrich and Yeung take a deep dive into this framework throughout the book and share how organizations across the world are reinventing their workplaces to become Market-Oriented Ecosystems that are able to not only survive in an ever-changing environment – but thrive in it.

If you would like to discuss how we can help support you in structural transformations and organization dynamics, please get in touch with us!

With today marking the start of World Breastfeeding Week, now is the time that organizations should be ensuring they are providing a positive workplace environment for those nursing that will benefit them all year round.

People that are still breastfeeding when returning to work will need to express breast milk between 8-10 times over a 24-hour period. In the US, it is a legal requirement for employers to provide a private space to express, as well as allowing their breastfeeding employees to take breaks as frequently as necessary. These facilities must be available for at least a year, and this set of policies are known as the federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law. However, there can be regional differences to these laws; for example, in the state of Colorado there is no set amount of time a company must cater for the needs of those breastfeeding.

New Zealand and parts of Canada follow a very similar approach, with employers required to provide the appropriate facilities for anyone breastfeeding.

In the UK, however, there is currently no formal legal requirement for a workplace to provide such facilities. As a result, it was reported last year that a Member of Parliament, Stella Creasy, had been criticized for bringing her baby son to her workplace – the Houses of Parliament in London – while she was still breastfeeding him. Shortly after, Ms Creasy received an official notice stating that she should not take her seat in the debating chamber with a child – a notice she subsequently published on Twitter to highlight the issue surrounding the lack of support for women in this same position at work.

While there is guidance from the Health and Safety Executive which recommends that a clean environment (that is not a bathroom) be supplied, there is an opportunity for employers in the UK to take responsibility for supporting the needs of their nursing employees.

The importance of women having a space to breastfeed at work is vital for their health and safety. There is a risk of swelling and soreness if a woman doesn’t express when needed, and in extreme cases this can lead to a bacterial infection called mastitis.

The embedding of inclusion policies for breastfeeding can help remove the pervading stigma that is clearly still attached to those nursing in some workplaces and, in turn, help create an even safer and more inclusive workplace culture overall. Whether there are laws in place or not, it is also about employers ensuring they are adopting the right attitudes towards breastfeeding, and that their teams are as well.

There are common misconceptions around breastfeeding a lot of the time, one of these being that when women go to express, they are ‘taking a break’ and/or ‘wasting time’ at work. But it is important for staff to be educated around the realities of expressing, and how it can be a tiring and somewhat uncomfortable thing to be doing multiple times a day (to the point where women are burning an additional 500 calories a day when breastfeeding!).

This ideology also completely undermines the fact that those expressing are not able to multitask while doing so. Considering there are a wide range of breast pumps available on the market now – including hands-free pumps – women are able to work on reports, catch up with emails, make calls…all while pumping. So ensuring that your teams and your managers are educated around the realities of expressing is just as important for creating a safe space for female colleagues to do so.

This is without mentioning the business case for this support, which can lead to a reduced absence rate and higher retention rates from those working mothers who feel recognized and valued.

With the US, Canada, and New Zealand leading the way in accommodating the needs of breastfeeding workers, executives around the world should seize the opportunity to show leadership in their countries. For advice on how to approach the implementation of these strategies, you can contact me directly at stephanie.rodriguez@orgshakers.com

July is Global Enterprise Agility Month. July is also – more importantly – the month that the Barbie movie comes out in cinemas around the world.

Now, these two things may not seem like they have a lot in common, but walk with me a minute. Before Barbie was brought to life by Margot Robbie, she was one of the most popular toys on the market, spanning all the way back to 1959 when the first doll was launched by Mattel. Since then, she has become the embodiment of agility – in 1961, Barbie was an air stewardess, a ballerina, and a nurse. Since then, she has had over 200 different careers in her lifetime.

But Barbie’s impressive CV doesn’t just highlight the need to be able to adapt to change, but rather to push even further and become proactive instead of reactive. Barbie became an astronaut years before man had even walked on the moon, she became a CEO in the 1980s and President in the 1990s – the first female President the United States has seen thus far. She isn’t just a symbol of agility, she is a symbol of dreaming bigger, and this ethos is one that all employers need to consider adopting.

However, building your company into a Dreamhouse doesn’t just happen overnight. Simply wishing to become agile is not enough, and if businesses want to embody Barbie, they need to be approaching agility from three different angles:

  1. Top-Down Approach – this focuses on the leader’s role in agility. Essentially, managers need to be well-versed in change management, and not afraid to dive headfirst into something new. This is of course within reason; they also need to be able to map out a trajectory of their decisions so to ensure that they are achievable from a business perspective and from an employee perspective.
  2. Bottom-Up Approach – this focuses on the empowerment of your team; if a manager is trained to make the company culture more agile and proactive, it can’t be assumed that their team members are also going to be well-versed in this. Agility is a profound thing, it doesn’t have one set definition or look one particular way, so it is important for leaders to ensure that they are supporting and empowering their people during this process so to achieve the desired cultural fluidity. This is also applicable to an organization’s consumer base, too – you want to empower your consumers as much as you want to empower your employees, and being agile allows for the empowerment of multiple consumer markets.
  3. Side-to-Side Approach – this looks at the actual structure of the business and its processes; the ‘practical’ side of agility. If employers want to become more agile, they need to have the right structures in place to be able to do so. This ties into the other two approaches, as this is what allows them to actually take place. Does the structure of the business allow for leaders to take risks? Are there processes in place to correctly recognise and reward those staff who are putting forward ideas and contributing to the agility of the company? The concept of agility is like being in a constant state of flux, it is the idea that businesses should try to be ever moving and ever-changing and be ahead of the curve as much as possible, but if the processes and structure isn’t there to support this notion then it will be very hard to achieve.

There is no set way to become an agile company, but even this is a lot like Barbie herself. There is no set way for what she does, who she is, or how she looks – it’s all about the context she finds herself in.

If you would like to discuss strategies to help make your company more adaptable and agile to future trends, please get in touch with us!

An employer’s paid time off (PTO) policy is critical when it comes to attracting new talent – a recent study found that PTO was the second most compelling benefit a company could offer.

This can inevitably lead to the consideration of unlimited PTO. It is already a particularly popular policy amongst US tech, media, and finance companies (a recent survey of 200 of these businesses found that 20% of them were already offering some form of unlimited PTO). As well as this, from a more generalised perspective, workplace discussions of unlimited PTO have risen by 75% since 2019, highlighting its increasing popularity.

But is it the best policy for your organization?

The problem with unlimited PTO is that it can easily sound better than it actually is. The prospect of having no set vacation days is an attractive one – it implies that the company values employee wellbeing – but this may be more in theory than in practice. A lot of the time, employers will probably find staff actually taking less time off then they usually would if they had been allotted a set amount of vacation days. This is primarily because employees don’t know how much is too much, despite the policy indicating that there is no such thing. No one will want to look like the person who takes a lot of time off, as this may reflect badly on their work ethic, and so staff can end up working more.

However, this doesn’t mean that unlimited PTO cannot be successful – but it has to be delivered in a certain way in order for employees to actually feel comfortable and entitled to take it.

For one thing, leaders who lead by example are going to set the cultural tone for their workforce. If employees see their line-managers, team leaders and executive staff enjoying the benefits of unlimited PTO openly, they are going to feel much more relaxed in indulging in this perk.

Secondly, if a business is going to adopt an unlimited PTO policy, a great thing to do would be to also enforce a minimum amount of vacation days every employee must take. This demonstrates how taking time off for oneself is a value that the company holds, and means that everyone is getting time off and not overworking themselves.

Lastly, this policy also requires effective performance coaching to be in place. If a manager notices someone falling behind on their work who is also taking a noticeable amount of PTO, this can lead to missed deadlines and output issues. Leaders having the ability to coach individual performance means shifting from an ‘hours someone is putting in’ mindset to an ‘output someone is producing’ mindset. This way, employees will understand that their vacation time is unlimited, but has to be worked around project deadlines to ensure output remains consistent. This offers staff autonomy and flexibility over their time without a loss in productivity.

It is also very important for employers to be clear about how an unlimited PTO policy goes hand-in-hand with their absence policies – establish the difference between things such as maternity and other leave of absence programs otherwise extended leave may just be taken in paid vacation.

Something to note is that in an increasingly remote and hybrid working world, unlimited PTO may not necessarily be something that’s needed. Instead, companies could look at endorsing flexible working patterns – have a set amount of days whereby an employee can fully check-out from work and be off the grid, but then outside of that, companies should work with their staff to be flexible to their individual needs. This way, PTO can be made to work for everyone, and avoids those feelings of guilt about taking too much time off.

If you would like to discuss how to optimize your PTO policies and overall benefit packages, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at Brittany@orgshakers.com

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