One thing has become evident since the pandemic: our workforce wants something different. The Great Resignation has shown us this much, and while some sectors have been worse hit than others – retail and hospitality, in particular – no industry has avoided it altogether. Indeed, education has been highly impacted, with teachers leaving the profession citing unmanageable workloads and thousands more projected to go in the next two years.
Yet the so-called Great Resignation has a successor – the Great Redefinition. Most humans still need to work to tick a financial box, but many are finding new ways to do so.
Whether it’s a complete career change, moving abroad and connecting to our teams remotely or retraining, employees are keener than ever to fulfil their job on their terms. Those responsible for placing and managing people must align with this shift, redefining our methods to recruit and retain staff in the current climate and minimise the churn.
How can you nurture the talent your business needs to continue progressing? By asking your employees what they value most. When Arden University went through this exercise recently, it was clear what mattered to them had changed significantly, and if we genuinely wanted the best from our teams, we had to address their newfound priorities and adapt to meet them.
As an online and blended service provider, our teams primarily worked remotely before the pandemic. Still, based on our people telling us flexible working is key, we’ve extended this to allow more employees to work from any UK location where operationally possible.
Yet a hybrid model alone doesn’t tick the flexibility box, with the location only one piece of the puzzle. Working hours can also challenge many people based on their commitments outside of work, and creating an inclusive workplace means considering each individual’s needs. Asking your staff what works best for them, focusing on outputs not inputs and introducing a schedule accordingly will do wonders for improving their productivity.
As people specialists, we’re seeing major changes in employee expectations, and it seems nowadays, they want much more than a free bowl of fruit! Beyond the benefits of a flexible workplace comes more tangible solutions your teams want to tap into and not just their salary.
“One thing is clear, though – what works for one team member won’t suit the next”
One thing is clear, though – what works for one team member won’t suit the next, and you can use a rewards budget in many ways. Give your people choices. Do they want a subsidised gym membership or an extra day’s annual leave? Perhaps the option to volunteer in the community? These are conversations to have with your people and new hires to show you value their individuality and personal objectives.
Wellbeing has become a vital component of an effective people strategy. While the mental health stigma has reduced and people are generally more open to discussing issues, staff need clear guidance on how to seek help – and we need the right people to give that support.
Arden has chosen to provide some level of mental health training to all employees, many of whom are now supporting colleagues in need, while others are made more aware and help to champion the cause. To help combat the lack of social interaction caused by remote working, we have increased our all-colleagues calls to occur monthly and physical catch-ups facilitated through local and global hubs, allowing more connectivity and inclusivity.
In the new world, culture matters more than ever. Most of us appreciate company values’ critical role in telling a story about ourselves, our culture and what we stand for. Yet all too often, they become lost, merely a set of words with zero impact.
By giving your organisational values real meaning, you encourage your people to understand and live them, in turn, creating a unified workforce and culture. In the midst of Covid, we realised our values were out of date and in need of a reset. Running a series of employee workshops helped us create SPARK – Stand out, Progressive, Accessible, Resourceful and Kindness – a set of values that are clear, reflective of our organisation today and, consequently, more meaningful to our employees. It also meant everyone had a part in shaping our values in a genuinely inclusive way.
About the author: This is a sponsored post by Tracie Greenhalgh, Chief People Officer at Arden University. An incredibly successful HR sector specialist and people pioneer, Tracie has transformed the culture within multiple commercial and education businesses over a thirty-year career, awarded key accreditations including IIP Gold Champion status and Employer of Choice at Learn Direct Limited in 2009.
Tracie firmly believes in putting the person before the process, and accounts her successes to date to creating real company values people understand, relate to and live.
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