“WFH until 2021, so how will you as a Leader, create a culture, retain talent and hire the best?”
We have arrived at a new age of adapting to life, not only because we have to, but maybe because we wish to.
A large number of the prestigious global tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, are looking to continue with WFH until the end of the year and possibly beyond that into 2021. Founders, CEO, CFO’s and other business leaders, will need to now start thinking around plans of how to create an united, yet productive and motivated team over the foreseeable future. There are of course, a significant number of articles on how to create a culture, retain staff and hire talent, but do the same rules apply when trying to achieve the same results remotely? I provide my thoughts and observations on how this can be done.
Creating the right culture
It will not come as a surprise to many, but it’s important to realise as a Founder, that it will be harder for you to create a culture, or the right one, when people are working remotely. You will have to work harder at this aspect, and those who don’t will see negative consequences. In my view, there are some key areas that need to be focused in on, such as, good communications, a routine, regular feedback, fun and celebrating key milestones.
When you feel part of a team and a common vision, then naturally you will feel more motivated, so as a Founder or Leader, there needs to be encouragement towards engaging with each of your team members on a daily basis. This could be done each morning, to set expectations for the day ahead, catching up periodically on the wellbeing and of course maintaining contact throughout the day through platforms such as Slack and Zoom. Empowering individuals to take a lead on meetings, will also make them feel they are contributing and kept engaged. This routine and consistent conversation can be done just as well remotely as in the office.
When you’re in an office, it’s easy to celebrate a key sale or a birthday or indeed commiserate when something does not go right. The people interaction part of this is tough to replace whilst WFH, however, it should still be encouraged remotely as it leads to, once again, a sense of belonging and makes the employee feel like they are cared about. There will have to be a shift in how physical meet ups can happen, as many individuals are still WFH, but in-person work socials should still very much be continued and encouraged to ensure comradery and togetherness is maintained.
It’s easier to notice how motivated and happy a person is when they are working from an office, and you as a Leader can quickly pick up this emotion and address it swiftly if issues arise. Yet when someone works remotely, they can quite easily put on a smiley face over a video or phone call and pretend everything’s fine. There is a close correlation with culture and retention, and a lot of candidates that we register who are seeking work, tend to say that the culture was not a right fit in their prior organisation, hence they are looking to leave. So, if we can nail culture, you possibly mitigate this situation.
The key issue is, if you are a firm that is WFH until 2021, and times are tough financially, as they will be for a number of businesses post COVID, how are you going to create opportunities so that employees can still be aspirational and excited by the future? An analysis of company structure and new aspirational promotional targets may be a way forward, as the targets set earlier this year can probably be torn up now due to the landscape changing. Yes, it rights that we all need to take a check on our personal goals and ambitions this year, however there are still businesses and opportunities that can offer strong progression, so you will have to try and evolve to keep hold of the best!
Training & Development, still needs to be invested in, because ambitious employees want to keep moving, so if as a business or Leader you can roll out a remote training programme between now and the end of the year, this would really put a fork in the ground in the eyes of your staff in highlighting that you still care about their future and highlights that as an organisation you place people as central to the business. What success looks like over the next 6 months, may be different to what success used to look like, so my next advice is, celebrate “small successes”, because this will create motivation, momentum, happiness and therefore aide retention!
Employees have always felt more at ease with meeting in person, with their manager to-be, team and to get a sight of the office environment, before making a decision on a job offer. Employers likewise, want to get a gage of personality and chemistry, before extending an offer. So both parties now have to make a judgment via a video call. My thoughts are that WFH will be more prevalent even when we (hopefully) find a vaccine for COVID, so in fact, how well someone engages over a video call should be a vitally important factor to consider, bearing in mind the future could be geared towards more communications in this manner. Furthermore, you can still have a number of virtual stages to safeguard against a poor fit, such as the prospective employee meeting with a few members of the team, getting them to do a presentation and of course fully referencing someone before they start, with possibly more probing questions around their personality. In addition, on top of all that, there is a probationary period or guarantee period if you hire through an agency. There will need to be more upselling of the opportunity, business and team, so if you relied on promoting a swanky office, free lunches on site, with video games and a ping pong table, you will have to think again. That said, going back to culture, you can still create fun events on a weekly basis and highlight to reassure prospective employees that you do work hard and play hard!
Much has changed — but in many ways, with some refinement, the traditional good people management ways still have a role to play.
Written by Dav Masaon| Co-Founder @ Zanda