As businesses around the world prepare for a new year of hybrid working, the integration of and reliance on technology continue to deepen.
“During the pandemic, we saw a rapid and tremendous upheaval of restructuring within our organizations,” says Dr. Matt Poepsel, VP of Professional Services at The Predictive Index, a leading talent optimization platform.
“We required teams to work together in new ways, and businesses pivoted their investments to demystify internal dynamics. This major shift continues to this day in the face of hybrid work, employee wellness, culture and a multi-generational workforce, and it’s imperative for businesses to get these people practices right in order to successfully empower their staff.”
Disruptive changes to the world of work have left many employees demanding flexibility and seeking purpose.
“The pandemic has forced people to ask profound questions about their purpose […] It’s not just assumed anymore that people will work simply for a paycheck,” says Poepsel. “This notion is front and center in the mindset of today’s employee.”
Poepsel identifies six key pillars of workplace success that every business leader should be addressing: freedom (the ability to control schedules and time), purpose (finding meaning in the world of work), growth (new capabilities and personal development), safety (ensuring wellbeing and personal matters are addressed), community (welcoming all identities and experiences), and equity (promoting inclusion and transparency).
“Purpose became a wake up call for employees who wanted to ensure their jobs aligned with their personal choices. It became an even bigger wake up call for employers,” he adds.
However, businesses must ensure they articulate their purpose within intent. After all, any business can be purposeful, but for it to resonate with staff it must be intentional, with full transparency and passion behind it, according to Poepsel.
Freedom and flexibility
With employees increasingly demanding greater freedom and flexibility from their employer, many organizations are attempting to combat this issue by overhauling often outdated company cultures from the top down.
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Addressing the topic of freedom needs to be relevant at all levels of the business, says Poepsel.
“Then we reestablish trust, because the trust factor is a prerequisite for freedom; without it, freedom can’t happen. And one of the greatest ways to build trust is through transparency.
“If your team has access to your work, it’s seen as being transparent. They can see the status of your projects, your location, and the where, how and what you do in a working environment,” he adds. “But to really be agile, the success lies in building a collaborative system where all levels of the business are given autonomy and freedom.
“Then the trust goes up, followed by freedom and autonomy. And everybody gets their needs met.”
Supporting multifaceted growth
Purpose-driven leaders with business acumen are valuable to any organization. Therefore, team managers and leaders should consider providing the right resources within the workplace to promote growth, collaboration and engagement, and ensure that this is embedded at the core of the company’s vision.
“Business leaders need to ensure workplace safety, in all aspects, in any given situation,” says Poepsel.
As a result, businesses that provide a resilient workforce with a safe, inclusive and diverse workforce will be more productive, and can reap the financial benefits that follow.
“We’re all highly interconnected and creating an environment where different opinions are welcomed to be voiced is key,” he says. “If you ever want to understand someone’s behavior, you must first understand their needs. If you’re in an environment where there’s no trust, then there’s a need that’s not being met.”
Adding synchronicity throughout all levels of the organization is also vital to promote growth.
“Growth and personal safety are experienced at the local level. If a company CEO creates tremendous safety and says it’s perfectly fine to fail, then the workforce should fail, and feel safe to do so. But if your direct manager punishes you for every mistake, then that disconnect will undermine the objective.
“If permission to fail isn’t embedded at every level in the workplace, then it’s basically giving the message that it’s something that we talk about, but not something we necessarily do.”
Workplace safety and inclusion
When addressing workplace safety, Poepsel highlights how challenging it has become for business leaders to cultivate a working environment that safeguards the mental health and physical wellbeing of employees.
“A lot of business leaders are being challenged right now,” he says. “Don’t assume your people feel safe; ensure that they do.”
Poepsel believes that the trends around remote working and inclusion built a similar impetus for mental health and physical wellbeing.
“Mental health has always been present in the workplace, but it was never talked about due to western cultures labelling it as taboo – now it’s at the forefront.”
“The latest generation to enter the workforce, in terms of a generational cohort, is more adamant about wellness, fairness and purpose than we’ve ever seen before.”
The power of community
As businesses look to create a culture-driven work environment with societal accountability, creating an inclusive workplace built on transparency is more important than ever before.
Poepsel believes that building a successful community includes promoting inclusion and identity, two aspects that go hand in hand.
“A community-focused workplace means having a connection to your work where your identity is welcomed. A successful organization with a collaborative workplace means that there’s a shared identity happening.”
He continues: “We need diversity to build a community as part of the global populace. Diversity creates higher levels of safety, retention, idea generation, creativity and innovation. These business drivers are all enhanced by inclusivity, and diminished by ignorance.”
With the conversation centered on building an impactful community, Poepsel advises businesses to prioritize making the investment to acknowledge and accept the universal right to inclusion.
“[Businesses] will then be rewarded for that effort in the form of a better business, a safer environment, and a more dedicated and committed workforce.”