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These are the top 5 strategic initiatives HR leaders are prioritizing heading into 2023.

To help HR leaders better manage and lead during these times, Gartner conducted an annual survey of more than 800 HR leaders and identified the top 5 priorities for HR in 2023. Top of the list is leader and manager effectiveness, but many HR leaders will also prioritize change management, employee experience, recruiting and future of work.

The top 5 priorities for HR in 2023

HR leaders must manage investments in people and technology, cultivate a positive culture and employee experience, and transform HR to be more automated and digital — all while new employee expectations are impacting retention and attraction. But their survey responses reveal their top priorities are as follows.

Priority No. 1: Leader and manager effectiveness

This is a priority for 60% of HR leaders, and 24% say their leadership development approach does not prepare leaders for the future of work.

As organizations and society evolve, so do the expectations for what leaders are responsible for, making their roles increasingly complex. Today’s work environment requires leaders to be more authentic, empathetic and adaptive. These three imperatives represent a new call for leadership: “human” leadership.

Even though HR leaders try to build commitment, courage and confidence in leaders to help them answer the call, human leaders remain few and far between. Leaders do need commitment, courage and confidence to be effective human leaders; however, HR’s typical approaches do not address the barriers that are holding leaders back. These obstacles include their own (very human) emotions of doubt, fear and uncertainty. 

To help leaders deliver on the need for human leadership and prepare them for the future of work, recognize their humanity and directly address these emotional barriers.

Priority No. 2: Organizational design and change management

This is a top priority for 53% of HR leaders, and 45% say their employees are fatigued from all the change.

Digital transformations, economic uncertainty and political tensions have led to much disruption and change. As such, organizational design and change management remain a top priority for CHROs, especially now, as organizations are seeing the fallout of too much change and uncertainty. 

Employees are also growing more resistant to change — in 2016, the Gartner Workforce Change Survey showed 74% of employees were willing to change work behaviors to support organizational changes, but that number dropped to 38% in 2022.

Change fatigue has clear ramifications. HR leaders must help employees to navigate change and mitigate the impact that change may have on their work and, more importantly, their well-being.

Priority No. 3: Employee experience

This is a top priority for 47% of HR leaders, and 44% believe their organizations do not have compelling career paths.

Many HR leaders struggle to identify the internal moves that employees must make to grow their careers. In a recent Gartner survey on employee career preferences, just 1 in 4 employees voiced confidence about their career at their organization, and three out of four looking for a new role are interested in external positions. 

Typically, career development follows three steps:

  1. Set a trajectory and communicate role benefits and requirements.

  2. Find in-role opportunities for potential new roles.

  3. Identify internal roles to achieve goals.

However, that pathway is less clear now that work experience is changing. Career options are less visible with less time in offices; current skills are becoming obsolete and employees aren’t prepared for future roles, and current options don’t satisfy employee needs as people rethink the role of work in their life. This presents new career imperatives for HR leaders to create best-fit careers for employees.

Priority No. 4: Recruiting

This is a top priority for 46% of HR leaders, and 36% say their sourcing strategies are insufficient for finding the skills they need.

Fifty percent of organizations still expect the competition for talent to increase significantly in the next six months, regardless of broader macroeconomic conditions.

This means recruiting leaders must reprioritize recruiting strategies to align with current business needs, plan for multiple potential scenarios in this shifting market and make decisions with great confidence using data.

Focus on three strategies to support strong talent and business outcomes in today’s market:

  • Build an intelligence-based sourcing capability.

  • Create an equitable internal labor market.

  • Build onboarding for engagement.

Priority No. 5: Future of work

This is a top priority for 42% of HR leaders, and 43% say they do not have an explicit future of work strategy.

The “future of work” continues to be synonymous with a remote and hybrid workforce. But while this shift is a seismic change for many organizations, it is only part of the equation. Workforce planning — anticipating future talent needs — is at the epicenter of a future of work strategy and is a top priority for HR leaders. But today’s workforce planning is disconnected from reality and current strategies are ineffective at combating the disruptive landscape. Think: shifting skills, scarce talent, high turnover and a shift in the employee-employer dynamic.

Instead of assuming we can predict future skills needs, access enough talent, fill future gaps by buying and building, and dictate when and where employees work, we need a new approach that unlocks new strategies.

In short:

  • HR leaders continue to face an unprecedented amount of disruption.

  • Gartner surveyed more than 800 HR leaders about their top 5 priorities for 2023.

  • At the top of their list is leader and manager effectiveness, but many HR leaders will also prioritize change management, employee experience, recruiting and future of work.

Author: Jordan Turner

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As a business leader, keeping abreast of the current outsourcing trends will help you navigate the outsourcing ecosystem and adapt to the new normal of the post-pandemic world.

The outsourcing trends in 2022 reflect the changes the pandemic brought to the outsourcing market in the last couple of years. It suggests that businesses must look for providers with high-quality services, aim for high flexibility, and leverage updated technology while outsourcing in 2023.

In this article, we’ll discuss the 13 most crucial outsourcing trends of 2022 that you should watch out for in 2023. We’ll also look at the 5 most outsourced services of the year.

Let’s get started.

Outsourcing trends 2022: 13 key trends to watch out for in 2023

Outsourcing gives companies a competitive advantage by reducing operating costs, enabling staffing flexibility, and saving time.

Because of these benefits, more companies opt to outsource business processes, prompting outsourcing market growth.

Businesses expect to spend over $700 billion annually on outsourcing by the end of  2022. This growing outsourcing industry includes IT (Information Technology), healthcare, accounting, and other sectors.

  • IT outsourcing spending will be $519 billion in 2023, a 22% increase over 2019’s numbers.
  • Business process outsourcing (BPO) spending will increase to $212 billion in 2023, a 19% increase over 2019.
  • The HR outsourcing market will be $19.38 billion in 2023.

However, outsourcing can be futile if you don’t plan it properly.

You’ll need to know relevant outsourcing trends to develop a successful strategy.

Here are a few outsourcing statistics and trends of 2022 that can help you make better outsourcing decisions in 2023:

1. Prioritizing quality

Companies now emphasize providing high-quality services to their customers.

For this, they’ll need skilled employees and advanced technology — which can be expensive in most countries.

As a result, companies are switching to processes such as software development outsourcing, HR outsourcing, business process outsourcing, legal process outsourcing, etc.

According to research from Commit, software development outsourcing will increase by 70% between 2022 and 2023,

Moreover, outsourcing enables companies to offer their clients customized solutions. An outsourcing company is more likely to have the time, expertise, and resources needed to customize solutions than an in-house team.

2. Ensuring business continuity

Companies preferred outsourcing with multiple vendors before the pandemic. But now, most want a strategic partnership with one (or fewer) vendors, as recently reported by the University of Cambridge.

Businesses now believe a strategic partnership with fewer outsourcing companies can ensure business continuity and cost saving.

How?

Frequently changing service providers can disrupt business continuity.

And a company is more likely to build a strong relationship with its outsourcing company when it’s working with the same team for an extended period. A strong bond can increase commitment and trust, which makes reaching objectives easier.

Additionally, businesses can ensure continuity with an outsourcing partner through a more extended outsourcing contract.

More extended contracts can ensure you’re provided services even during uncertain times because you’ll work with a trustworthy outsourcing partner.

3. Wanting business flexibility and adaptability

The Covid pandemic and the resulting lockdowns were chaotic and disruptive. Many countries had a hard time recovering from the short term economic shock. According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Outsourcing Survey, these conditions are prompting businesses and service providers to become flexible concerning work.

And to match the growing agility demands of companies, an outsourcing provider will need to:

  • Accept if the company suspends or pauses a project abruptly.
  • Ensure work is completed before the deadline, even if there are sudden obstacles in the outsourcing destination.
  • Increase collaborative initiatives.
4. Hiring niche talent

According to a 2022 ManpowerGroup survey, 75% of employers find it hard to find talent in the US.

Most importantly, there is a shortage of talent specialized in new technology. This shortage is the most significant barrier to the adoption of 64% of modern technology used in fields, like network and security, according to a 2021 Gartner survey.

And since it’s time-consuming to upskill in-house teams, companies are outsourcing services to a vendor with expert talent in a desirable outsourcing destination.

By outsourcing to a skilled vendor, a company can instantly access the expertise it lacks in-house.

5. Using modern technology

Companies keeping abreast of emerging technology can use it to automate processes, increase efficiency, and simplify operations.

But software development, automation, IoT (Internet of Things), and other modern technology evolve regularly. It can be challenging to update technology frequently, so companies are outsourcing to service providers.

A service provider is an expert in their specific field. As a result, they’re more likely to update themselves about the advancements in technology than an in-house team.

Here are the most current and trending technologies used in the outsourcing industry:

A. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions

RPA is software development that helps build, deploy, and manage robots to carry out simple tasks.

The demand for robotic process automation is increasing as companies realize it is more cost effective to use robots to perform repetitive tasks.

A 2022 Grand View Research report states that the RPA market size was worth $1.89 billion in 2021.

This market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.2% from 2022 to 2030.

B.  Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation

Business and outsourcing companies use Artificial Intelligence to automate repetitive tasks, calculations, or replying to messages.

Additionally, Artificial Intelligence helps a provider improve customer service. Chatbots or cloud-based IVR (Interactive Voice Response) are examples of this revolutionary, emerging technology.

A 2022 Grand View Research survey reported that the global AI and Machine Learning outsourcing market size was $93.5 billion in 2021.

The AI and Machine Learning outsourcing market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.1% from 2022 to 2030.

C. Cloud computing

Cloud outsourcing is essential to access other modern technologies like AI, RPA, and machine learning. It also empowers a company to collect and store resources on the cloud and access cloud services.

Companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, and Microsoft are investing more capital into their cloud platform and cloud services.

A 2022 Cloudwards survey revealed that the total value of cloud computing and the cloud platform market will amount to $832.1 billion by 2025.

6. Demanding better cybersecurity

Digital transformation can open up several ways for intruders to access inside data.

A Forbes article revealed that 82% of companies faced cyberattacks in 2022. But managing an in-house security team can be difficult.

That’s why companies are hiring a Managed Service Provider (MSP). An MSP is a third-party service provider that manages a specialized operation, like data security.

Companies are handing over cybersecurity to MSPs as they’re more likely to have cybersecurity experts and advanced solutions. The demand for MSPs is so high that it was worth $152.02 billion in 2020 and will grow to $274 billion by 2026, as per Statista.

7. Outsourcing surge amongst startups and small businesses

Outsourcing allows small businesses or startups to access the best talents and tools at economical prices.

These businesses outsource repetitive tasks to save time and money. Small companies are also less likely to have experienced employees due to their limited payroll budget, and outsourcing enables them to access the best talents.

According to a Clutch survey, 90% of small US businesses plan to outsource a business process in 2022, a 10% increase from 2021.

This outsourcing trend will continue in 2023 and disrupt various industries.

8. Favoring nearshore outsourcing over offshore outsourcing

Nearshore outsourcing involves hiring a third party from a neighboring country to complete a business task. On the other hand, offshore outsourcing is outsourcing to a faraway country, usually in a different time zone.

In the post-pandemic world, companies are nearshoring more than in previous years.

According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), nearshore outsourcing will add $78 billion to the export sector in Latin America and the Caribbean after 2023.

Similarly, a 2022 report by Bloomberg revealed that 80% of companies in North America like the United States, were actively considering nearshoring.

This change could be due to the relative comfort of companies’ experience in managing supply chains over a shorter distance and more minor zone differences of nearshore companies.

Additionally, navigating time zones and labor regulations in distant and culturally different countries, such as Malaysia, South Africa, and the  Philippines, can be a huge business challenge. Nearshoring may empower businesses to overcome some of these barriers without hurting their bottom line.

9. IT outsourcing to Eastern Europe

Although India and China dominate the IT outsourcing industry, many tech businesses today are outsourcing tasks to Eastern Europe.

According to Statista, IT Outsourcing to Eastern Europe will reach $2.69 billion in 2022.

Companies in North America like the United States prefer East European countries, like Romania, Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus, for IT outsourcing due to their proficiency in English and cultural similarity.

Also, Eastern Europe has a high percentage of skilled people (including tech professionals), affordable talent, and strong data security.

Additionally, the salaries in several countries of Eastern Europe are low when compared to that in other countries, like the USA or Canada.

10. Preferring remote work

Due to the Covid pandemic, remote work has become the new norm.

According to a 2022 study on remote work by SCIKEY, 82% of respondents prefer working from home.

The study further revealed that 64% of employees said that they are more productive working from home and feel less stressed.

This trend is set to continue in 2023 and beyond.

11. Improving customer experience and satisfaction

Customer experience is the key brand differentiator in 2022 and will continue to give businesses a competitive edge in the coming year.

To provide a better user experience, businesses may have to invest in customer support and social media coverage more.

Focusing on customer experience can help companies:

  • Ease customer acquisition.
  • Increase customer satisfaction.
  • Strengthen customer relationships and brand loyalty.

But the unpredictability of customer call volumes can be difficult to manage.

Companies may have to quickly scale up and down and manage the workforce for proper functioning.

This opens up more avenues for outsourcing customer service.

According to the Global Call Center Outsourcing Market’s 2022-2026 report, the call center outsourcing sector will grow by $21.72 billion.

The report also stated that the CAG rate will accelerate by 3.96% during 2022-2026.

Outsourcing services such as customer support improves the customer experience and lowers operational costs significantly.

12. Emphasizing cost reduction

Before the pandemic, companies were moving from cost reduction to prioritizing quality and scalability but that changed with the pandemic.

Deloitte’s Global Survey 2021 stated that 88% of the surveyed companies said cost reduction was now their main outsourcing objective.

Most surveyed outsourcing companies said that although clients wanted agility, scalability, and technology enablement, the reduction of operational costs brought by outsourcing services was the primary decision making factor.

This trend could continue in 2023 while the world economy recovers from the pandemic and recessions.

13. Practicing transparency in workflow

In the past years, most companies had little idea about the decisions made regarding the outsourced project as the outsourcing provider handled it completely. This led to frequent misunderstandings.

However, there’s now a growing demand for transparent communication with outsourcing companies.

A study by the American Scientific Research Journal for Engineering, Technology, and Sciences said that expressive communication is crucial for transparency.

Additionally, a Deloitte study reported that creating an outsourcing contract like an SLA can help increase transparency. An SLA can give your business a clearer idea about the quality of the outsourced work and help enterprises to hold the outsourcing provider accountable.

Now, let’s look at the most outsourced tasks in 2022.

5 most outsourced tasks in 2022

Here are the most outsourced services in 2022:

1. Information Technology (IT)

According to Statista, the IT outsourcing industry is growing at a CAGR of 8.93% and will be worth a market volume of $551,956.3 million by 2026.

Of all the IT services, most companies engage in RPA and software outsourcing.

In fact, the RPA market will be approximately $32.7 billion by the end of 2030.

Furthermore, Latin America is one of the most rapidly-growing regions for software outsourcing. Companies such as Amazon, Google, Uber, and Microsoft are all outsourcing software development to Latin America.

Other IT outsourcing trends include:

  •  Implementation of digital transformation.
  • Mobile app support and management.
  • Search engine optimization.
  • Data center management.
2. Administrative

Commonly-outsourced administrative activities include telephone services, bookkeeping, event management, payroll management, and more.

Companies also hire virtual assistants (independent contractors who work remotely on tasks like scheduling appointments,completing administrative activities, and more).

According to Technavio, the global virtual assistant market size will grow by USD 4.12 billion, at a CAGR of 11.79% between 2021-2025.

3. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)

Generally, companies outsource a business process such as IT services and human resource management to an external BPO company.

BPO has become the ideal cost-effective solution for companies looking to grow their business. BPO service providers help companies bridge need gaps within their structure and cover additional technical or non-technical business functions.

The BPO solutions industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with a CAGR of 9.1% from 2022 to 2030 (Grand View Research 2022).

4. Blockchain development

Blockchain development outsourcing is the process of finding an external third-party provider to take on the development and management of your blockchain technology.

Blockchain development outsourcing can be the ideal cost saving solution when a business needs to develop a blockchain product quickly.

The global blockchain technology market size was $5.92 billion in 2022.

The market is also expected to grow at a CAGR of 85.9% from 2022 to 2030 (Grand View Research 2022).

5.  Legal process outsourcing

According to American Lawyer Media research, 93% of legal departments rely on several legal service providers to handle a wide array of tasks.

Outsourcing can differentiate your legal department and improve capacity without increasing overhead.

It enables companies to delegate time-consuming and mundane tasks such as document review and contract drafting to an outsourcing service provider.

In house legal teams can then focus on more meaningful work such as mitigating legal risks by designing and implementing suitable company policies and procedures.

The global legal process outsourcing market size was USD 10.77 billion in 2022.

The market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.9% from 2022 to 2030 (Grand View Research 2022).

Wrapping up

Outsourcing has been witnessing several progressive trends post-pandemic.

Studying these trends can guide you to develop successful business plans for 2023. Learning more about an outsourcing trend can also help you handle uncertainties in your business and manage internal stakeholders effectively.

You can go through the top outsourcing trends listed above to develop a strategic plan for successful outsourcing for the coming years.


Use these 10 strategies to attract and retain skilled workers.

 

  • Writing good job descriptions can help you find the best employees.
  • Job seekers want comprehensive salaries and benefits, inclusive company cultures, and ample career development opportunities.
  • Training management can have a big impact on employee retention.
  • This article is for business owners and hiring managers looking to attract and retain top talent. 

Every business wants to attract and retain the best employees, but this is often easier said than done. A 90% retention rate and a 10% turnover rate are considered “good,” but a 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics report found an average annual turnover rate closer to 57%. This means that the fight for talent is tougher than ever before.

Simply offering a large salary isn’t enough anymore. Job seekers want to work for inclusive organizations that offer great salaries and benefits, inclusive company cultures and ample career development opportunities. They also prioritize companies that align with their goals and values. Employers should keep this in mind as they think about which strategies they can use to not only attract the best workers, but also keep them long term.

Although your recruitment and retention strategy will be unique to your business, here are 10 ways you can attract and retain skilled workers.

1. Write good job descriptions.

The first step to attracting skilled workers who match your needs is writing a good job description. A well-written job description can make a big difference in finding qualified candidates.

  • Content: A job description is much more than a simple list of employee responsibilities; it is often one of the first impressions a job seeker has of your organization. As such, an effective job description should not only include skills, tasks, expectations and role requirements, but also give the reader a feel for your company culture. A recent study by Skynova showed that 7 in 10 job seekers find salary to be the most important aspect of a job posting, followed by the benefits package. As such, it can be beneficial to include this information as well.
  • Tone: The way you write your job descriptions should match your company and brand. For example, if you have a lighthearted, goofy company culture, consider using words that convey the silly nature of your workplace. However, steer clear of words such as “guru,” “ninja” and “wizard.” The Skynova study found that many job seekers respond negatively to these terms.
  • Format: Format your job descriptions in a way that is easy to read. Use headers and bullet points when writing out details like requirements and responsibilities, as this will make the job description easier to scan. You will also want to include a clear call to action so that applicants know how to apply.
2. Be intentional with your hiring process.

According to a survey by BambooHR, 31% of workers leave a job within the first six months, and 68% of those depart within the first three months. A strategic recruitment and onboarding process can reduce these high turnover rates by helping new employees feel connected to their roles.

Employee recruitment

Find out which websites and job boards most align with your organization and the employees you are looking for. Asking employees for referrals is also a great strategy for finding reliable talent. You can use recruitment software or applicant tracking systems to manage your talent pipeline from start to finish.

Employee interviews

When hiring new employees, it helps to have a recruitment process that is uniform and consistent across the board. Train your HR and hiring managers on how to conduct effective employee interviews, including which types of questions they can and can’t ask. This will make your hiring process more productive and equitable.

Employee onboarding

Your hiring responsibilities don’t stop when you offer an applicant the job and they accept. You will also need a comprehensive onboarding process that reviews all required paperwork, welcomes and trains the new employee, and quickly integrates them into your team.

3. Offer competitive compensation.

Although it’s not the only thing that matters to employees, a competitive salary is still top of mind when job seekers look for a new job. If you want to hire skilled workers, you must be prepared to pay them what they are worth. Start by reviewing the industry average for employee salaries. You can also use salary benchmarks based on location, role and experience.

Pay isn’t the only way to compensate employees for a job well done. Consider other forms of compensation, such as employee retirement plans, bonuses, paid time off and stock options. Offering a diverse combination of compensation can make a job offer more attractive.

4. Build a comprehensive employee benefits package.

Although you are legally obligated to offer only a few employee benefits (e.g., family and medical leave, health insurance, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation, as well as FICA contributions that fund public benefits like Social Security and Medicare), creating a comprehensive benefits package is essential to attracting the best employees. Employee benefits are a great way to improve your employees’ health, well-being, job satisfaction and productivity.

The most popular employee benefits fall into five categories: health and wellness, financial well-being, work-life balance, professional development, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Create a benefits package that offers some combination of these elements.

5. Provide employee development opportunities.

A Work Institute survey found that a lack of career development opportunities is the biggest reason why employees quit their jobs. If you want to retain your most valued employees, you must provide them with a clear path to future development. Each employee should have their own career development plan that is unique to their strengths and interests.

Here are a few ways you can foster career development:

  • Identify clear goals to work toward. Have your employees clearly identify their career goals and then come up with a development plan to achieve them. Periodically measure employee success to see if they are progressing toward their goals or if they need assistance.
  • Offer training courses. Offer in-person or online training opportunities for employees to learn and build their career knowledge.
  • Create a mentorship program. Identify less experienced employees who show potential, and pair them with mentors who can help guide their careers with the company.
  • Offer stretch assignments. Provide internal staff with challenging projects just beyond their comfort zone. It will expand their skill sets and build their confidence.
  • Promote from within. Although you won’t always find the right candidate for a senior role from your current pool of employees, consider hiring from within when a position becomes available. If you know you will need to fill a position in the future and it aligns with one of your employee’s development goals, create a cross-training program that will enable them to earn that spot.
6. Recognize your employees.

Make your employees feel appreciated and valued. You can do this by creating an employee recognition program. Although your recognition program should be fair and equitable to all employees, it’s important to note that not all employees want to be recognized in the same way. Therefore, you should be strategic about how you create your program.

One way you can create an employee recognition plan that is unique and meaningful to each employee is to use a points system. For example, employees can earn points for their achievements and then spend them on the rewards they value most (e.g., gift cards, company swag, experiences). You can also survey your employees to learn which incentives are most engaging to them.

7. Prioritize company culture.

Company culture can impact employee job satisfaction in a big way. Many people want to work for an inclusive workplace that values and celebrates staff diversity. This all starts at the hiring process. Be intentional about whom you hire. Your company leadership also plays a huge role, as company culture usually flows from the top of the organization. For example, if your team leaders constantly show up late to meetings and talk negatively about staff members, other employees will also think it is okay to treat people this way in the workplace.

8. Monitor employee engagement and burnout.

One key to retention is employee engagement. High employee engagement can reduce employee turnover and absenteeism, as well as increase productivity and company morale. You can improve employee engagement by encouraging open communication and feedback, among many of the other tips mentioned in this article.

In addition to keeping employees engaged, you want to ensure they are not experiencing workplace burnout. Your best employees can often be saddled with the most work, which can quickly result in fatigue, negativity and reduced productivity. Bring in skilled temporary professionals to relieve overburdened staff and support resource-intensive projects.

9. Communicate your company mission and vision.

Another way you can attract and retain employees is to clearly communicate your company mission and vision statement. These are the goals and values of your organization. People want to work for an organization that they identify with. They want to know that the organization is acting in a way that they trust and support. Not everyone will click with your mission and values, and that’s okay. That’s why you want to clearly communicate these from the start, so you can build an organization filled with people that truly support your purpose.

10. Train your management staff.

It is important that your company leaders are properly trained on how to successfully manage their teams, as good managers can have a big impact on employee retention. In fact, Gallup found that 52% of departing employees claim their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from resigning.

Perhaps these managers were thrown into the fire without the proper tools. In a study by Udemy, 60% of respondents think that managers need more training, and 56% of respondents think that people are promoted too quickly. Effective leadership training programs can help your team build their leadership skills and better manage employees, resulting in a higher employee retention rate.

Author:Skye Schooley

 


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Author: Clara Shih

In sociology, the “proximity principle” describes the tendency for people to form interpersonal relationships with those who are nearby. We often become friends with people we encounter regularly, energizing and bringing joy to each other and sharing a smile, an inside joke, or drinks after work.

Then Covid happened. These days, proximity is harder to come by than ever. Even employees who do go into the office may find it empty or populated by coworkers they barely know due to hoteling or hot-desk arrangements. As evidenced by employee engagement surveys, burnout, and attrition across industries, employees’ social and emotional needs are no longer being met. People feel isolated and fatigued working from home, yet most (81%, according to a Harvard Business School survey) don’t want to give up the flexibility of not having to come in every day.

In this new reality, how can leaders fill their employees’ cup? How do we provide autonomy and flexibility while fostering togetherness? How can we balance social interaction with efficiency, since no one likes long meetings? We need something to replace the daily social dopamine hit we used to get from interacting with coworkers in the office — but as we’ve experienced over the last two years, more emails and Zoom happy hours aren’t going to do the trick. So, what will?

The Growing Importance of One-on-One Interactions

Employee experience can be viewed as the combination of an “air game” (of one-to-many interactions) and “ground game” (of one-to-one and one-to-few interactions). Leadership teams set the strategy and provide air cover with corporate brand, culture, values, and policies such as compensation philosophy, parental leave, return-to-office mandates, and more. The ground game is what employees experience day-to-day with their managers, peers, and direct reports. The ground game involves managers going out in the field, walking the talk, meeting with people, and confronting real problems on the ground. Contrast that with air-game tactics like company-wide email blasts.

While companies need to have both an air game and ground game, it’s very hard, if not impossible, for a corporate leadership team to facilitate deep connection from the top down. In today’s virtual and hybrid work reality, employee engagement and human connection are a person-to-person ground game. To illustrate the point, imagine an electrifying in-person company all-hands, or the last live concert you went to. Now try to imagine watching the same all-hands or concert on your computer. Even if you’re lucky enough to not have distractions or disciplined enough to not be multitasking, the online experience is nowhere close. In a remote work environment, the ground game becomes more important than ever in driving employee experience, engagement, and loyalty.

How Managers Can Keep Teams Engaged in a Hybrid Environment

Once managers have the support they need, they can take steps to foster emotional connection, team bonding, and fun to compensate for the loss of proximity in the office. Here are a few:

  • Have shared commitment and mutual expectations.

In the highest-trust relationships and highest-performing teams, each person commits to what can be expected of them so that the other can support, amplify, and help hold them accountable. In a remote setup, this extends beyond metrics like OKRs to include explicitly where, when, and how individuals prefer to work. Earlier this year, every team across Salesforce Service Cloud created a working agreement to document each team member’s needs and preferences. Often, an individual may belong to multiple teams: a team of peers (their manager plus their manager’s direct reports), their team of direct reports (if they’re a manager), and perhaps a scrum team. A working agreement should be created for each and may differ — for example, a scrum team needs to meet more often than a team of managers each running separate projects.

  • Check in Often.
    The tidbits of life news and body language we’re used to picking up from physical proximity are now gone or drastically diminished, so managers need to be more deliberate about creating space for team members to share — perhaps dedicating part of staff meetings to checking in on life updates or having a Slack prompt inviting everyone to share a photo from their summer. One of the Service Cloud leadership team’s highest-engagement (and most fun) Slack threads last year was everyone sharing a photo from Halloween.Because so much meaning can get lost or easily misinterpreted in text or email, I’m also a big believer in picking up the phone. I make it a point to call or text each person on my direct team (or vice-versa) at least once every few days, even if it’s just to say hi and let them know I’m thinking about them. Bring the team together to decide what kinds of updates, requests, and sharing should happen over email or Slack versus in real time over the phone or on video.
  • Meet in person regularly.
    Always have the next in-person meeting planned so the team has something to look forward to. Save contentious debates and collaboration-heavy work for those meetings. Spend extra time planning offsites, which are higher-ROI than ever, as they now need to generate enough team social capital to last between in-person meetings. I’ve found that first-time managers often need extra coaching and support to plan and execute their first offsite. Leaders should invest the time in sharing best practices as well as providing input, feedback, and encouragement.
  • Show appreciation frequently in large and small ways.
    Without the smiles, nods, and other nonverbal cues we used to give our coworkers in the office on a daily basis, we now have to be more deliberate about giving praise. This was a lesson I learned when starting a new job during the pandemic in late 2020. Due to stringent Covid policies at the time, I didn’t meet any of my coworkers in person for over six months. At one point, one of the highest-performing VPs in my organization asked me during a one-on-one whether I thought he was doing a good job. He was (and is) doing an incredible job, and I told him so, but I was taken aback by the question. I realized then how little he must have felt he knew me and what I think, especially in contrast to if we’d been in the office together day-in and day-out. Thanks to this experience, I try to be much more deliberate now about giving out recognition frequently, celebrating the small wins, and encouraging all the managers across my organization to do the same.
  • Find a way to be together while apart.
    Shared context bonds people together, and Covid has forced us to take a fresh and creative approach to team building. One of the most enjoyable evenings I had during the pandemic was a virtual Italian dinner with my team and our cross-functional partners. Though the 12 of us live in seven different places, we all enjoyed the same bottle of wine (shipped to each person ahead of time) and menu (from a local Italian restaurant in each person’s city). It was almost as good as being together in person and something we can do much more frequently than flying everyone to the same location. Another memorable moment was celebrating the holidays together last December with a beautiful virtual musical performance by one of our team members.

Not only are new methods required to address employees’ social and emotional needs, who carries out these methods is shifting from traditional corporate structures (air game) to the line managers running important ground plays. Providing employees with space, flexibility, and psychological safety isn’t enough — companies need to go beyond these table stakes to offer today’s remote and hybrid workers experiences that address their human need for the authentic connection, team bonding, and fun that used to come with in-person proximity at the office.

Culled from https://hbr.org/2022/08/keeping-hybrid-employees-engaged

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Corporate culture can be tricky to define. Every leader knows the importance of developing a thriving corporate culture, but the concept can mean many things to many people.

Here’s what culture is — and how to build a robust and thriving one.

1. Culture is about leadership.
A leader sets an example for others to follow. In fact, the first words that every leader should speak to their team is “follow me.” An organization’s leader is always the first to define the culture. As the leader acts, the people will act. What the leader embodies, the organization will embody. One thought that effective leaders should always consider is, “What if the corporate culture looked exactly like I do as a leader?” This question is both penetrating and convicting. A leader should strive to lead in such a way that the corporate culture is a direct reflection of their leadership.

2. Culture is about storytelling.
Great corporate cultures develop through storytelling. Stories shape the identity of the organization. They teach people how to make better decisions and illustrate where people should be focusing their time and attention. Good leaders are master storytellers. Influential leaders craft stories to make essential points that his or her followers will always remember. If you want to shape a great culture, be a grand storyteller.

3. Culture is also about experiences.
Good leaders know that healthy cultures develop when people not only hear about the values of the organization but experience them firsthand. Every CEO and leader should focus on becoming their company’s chief experience officer. Experiences create memorable moments that employees will remember for years.

4. Culture is about sacrifice.
Leaders inspire their people to give more than they think possible. They challenge their employees. They ask employees to sacrifice for the greater good. It is the leader’s job to remind followers that there is always a bigger why. Every leader must examine if they have created a more prominent call to their people so that the people understand the value of their sacrifice.

5. Culture is about community.
Companies today consist of different people from different backgrounds with different skills. In spite of their differences, great leaders call people to work together in unity. Leaders of great cultures role model humility and service. Servant leaders model an example of thoughtfulness. Great cultures call people to serve each other, and employees see themselves not as individuals but as a team. Don’t sabotage your culture by only rewarding individual effort. Learn to reward both individuals and groups for company breakthroughs.

6. Culture is about commitment.
Great cultures are built by a team’s commitment. Leaders who are striving to develop a thriving culture should consider what commitment they want from their people, and ask them to commit to that greater cause.

Today, we may never be a leader who changes the world, but we can change our world by changing our culture. When leaders follow these core principles, they begin their journey of building a great culture and a thriving business.

Source: Forbes | https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/06/06/six-steps-to-building-a-thriving-company-culture/?sh=6303e8f62c20


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