Shaping a workplace that thrives in 2022 and beyond by instigating two-way conversations

Deborah Wilson

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DW blog image Mar 2022 for LI copy | OnTalent

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world in many ways. The relationship between workers and employees has changed immeasurably over the last two years and counting. Some of you may already have felt the wrath of The Great Resignation. While CEOs and other leaders are facing considerable challenges, there’s never been a more important time to lead from the heart and acknowledge that your people are the heart and soul of your business. That said, organisations must also thrive and consider their bottom line. So, where do we go from here?

Consider your business’ current situation

Each day, I engage with leaders from various sectors and backgrounds. Typically, their business’ current and future state is a hot topic, and they tend to run hot and cold. That means these people are sliding up and down an emotional rollercoaster, feeling challenged, empowered and fatigued in any given week. They may even feel all of these emotions in one day. These leaders are acutely aware that their business functions in a world of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity). It’s their responsibility to lead and make decisions that will bring the organisation closer to its short and long-term goals.

Enter one of the biggest challenges

Contingency planning. Two words that most leaders know well. Contingency planning hinges on people, and in a world that continues to experience the consequences of a pandemic, people are looking for more from their employers. Flexibility and meaningful work are two essential pieces of the puzzle. Fun, connection and a sense of belonging are often high priorities. That said, as we’re all unique, the only real way of knowing what your people desire is to keep the lines of communication open. Work is one part of someone’s life. As leaders, we need to get better at acknowledging that the people we work alongside may be in their own world of pain and stagnation. The last two years have been an eye-opening experience for many and highlighted how quickly everything can change seemingly overnight. More and more, I’m encountering people questioning:

• How will 2022 be any different from 2021?
• What impact are we having?
• Can I see myself doing this for another 3, 5 or 10 years?

The current landscape is more competitive than ever regarding talent acquisition and retention

Have you noticed something different when doing your weekly shopping recently? I have. Job advertisements are popping up on windows everywhere, and this is not unique to retail. Generally speaking, people have more employment options than they’ve had in a long time. The companies that take the time to define and implement a strong workplace culture are streets ahead of other organisations. What is your company’s stance on the social issues (for example, climate change, childcare and equity) that matter to your team? Remember, at the centre of a strong culture is people.

Sure, people want more flexibility, but working virtually doesn’t mean you make no effort to engage with your team. Virtual tools are just that—tools. They cannot replace human connection. Taking the time to build and maintain strong bonds with your team will almost certainly translate to less turnover and higher returns.

How to start leading two-way conversations

If you’re new to engaging with your employees on a deeper level, here are some simple ways to get started.

Instigate career conversations

Have you ever asked your team members where they see themselves in 1 or 2 years? Do you make an effort to develop leaders, or are you ‘too busy’ to encourage people to grow? Be clear about how people can progress within the organisation and ask how they see their role evolving and changing in time. If you have team members nearing the end of their career, they may be entertaining the idea of bringing forward their retirement. People are unlikely to engage in a conversation about their thoughts if you don’t create an environment where they can be honest and open without fear.

Get clear on attracting new talent and your employee value proposition (EVP)

As a leader, if you’re unclear on your EVP, how will you attract the top talent? Compare your organisation to a few competitors if you’re stuck. Why should people choose to work for your company? Go beyond the dollars.

Identify ways you can engage with staff

Make an effort to schedule regular meetings with individual team members or, at the very least, management. Question how your management team engages with people. This is even more important with remote work. People need connection, not just a list of instructions and tasks to complete. If you’ve identified that belonging and connection is lacking in your workplace, how can you incorporate this into your existing environment? Team bonding days, ‘pitch your idea’ sessions and so on. How can you lighten the mood and help your team to share a few laughs together?

The future looks reasonably grim for companies that fail to adjust to the current work landscape. High staff turnover increases expenses, decreases productivity, prevents consistency and does not promote a positive workplace culture.

Shaping a workplace that thrives in 2022 and beyond is incredibly complex. Reach out to Deborah Wilson –  Career and Leadership Strategist and the OnTalent team if you need assistance.

Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose.

Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746.

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