I had the opportunity to be a part of a panel at a Future of Work Summit with colleagues who know much more than I do about advances in technology. However, we were talking about how to connect the future of technology with the future of how we work and interact together, especially when we are remote or partially remote. How do we build a strong culture? The success of building a remote culture should not land squarely on the shoulders of our technology colleagues. Building a strong culture is a leadership challenge.
Why should we care about having a strong remote working culture, or an engaging and resilient culture in general? If we don’t, there will be huge consequences.
An exodus of people.
As people get more confident in our economy, you will have an enormous number of talented people leave their current workplace. Many have spent time reevaluating their personal happiness and job satisfaction with their current company, and they think they can be more fulfilled or successful somewhere else. They are rethinking their careers to make sure that they can handle work, home or life challenges. If they don’t feel like they can get their needs met at their current place of employment, they will bail. The war for talent has only gotten more intense, and leaders can help to hold on to their employees by creating a team bond through similar priorities, interests, and attitudes.
Burnout is a big issue from the last year, caused by stress, isolation, worry and overwork. Those burned out are four times more likely to leave their workplace when confidence returns. Lower engagement also means lower performance day- to- day. We all know that building a culture where people feel connected and a sense of belonging is the key to having them go the extra mile in their work.
Strategy not realized.
A leader’s primary responsibility is making sure all of their direct reports understand the business strategies and how they can support those strategies. Then, leaders must develop each team member’s current and future talent gaps. Easily said, right? When employees are disconnected from the company’s focus areas or don’t have the knowledge, skills or abilities to do their job, they certainly will miss on execution. If enough employees miss, the company will not hit established goals and the senior leaders’ teams will be left wondering what happened. We won’t succeed without people feeling connected in and capable of helping the C-Suite go from point A to point B.
CEO’s and other C-suite executives are stressed around decisions and the specifics on where people will work. It is top of mind for employees, and they are asking for, and worried about, those details. Leaders, as a whole, are ready to get back to some sort of in-person/remote hybrid model. However, employees are not so sure if they want to, or are able to, with other obligations in their life. Anxiety is certainly present and sometimes can be debilitating. Not focusing on the future of your workplace setting has huge consequences.
As much as the last year’s business landscape has been frustrating, tiring, difficult, and even sad, it is also a time for reinvention. As much as reinvention brings challenge, many people are exhilarated through change and are looking for the upside and the opportunity out of hardship. Working remotely and leveraging technology are two of the biggest changes that continue to evolve. Creating the right company culture that addresses the anxieties of this transition, while exploring the opportunity to reinvent how organizations and their employees work is the most pressing demand of leaders. For leaders unwilling or unable to navigate this demand, the consequences will be dire. But, for those skilled to have these conversations and begin the challenging work of connecting their business needs to their people needs, and accommodate the growing role technology will play in this union, the future may offer profound benefits we are only just now starting to explore. Have I built a bit of a case for why leaders need to be prepared and should create a culture where people want to be a part of the organization?