Most organizations are considering the transition from remote work back to the office in the coming weeks and months. This is a difficult decision for many employers, as there are several crucial factors that must be considered.
Do you bring 100 percent of your employees back, or limit the returnees to those associates who are absolutely needed in the office? What is the impact on culture without daily face-to-face interactions? What about those star performers who do not want to come back to the office?
Economic indicators predict that we are about to see wage inflation which, according to the experts, will almost certainly create a hiring challenge for companies. Additionally, most employees in the next few years will be under the age of 34. These factors present tough challenges and complications for leaders or managers of growing companies.
Another critical point to consider is personal values. The pandemic has caused us to re-examine our values and our wants. It sharpened our focus on what we do not want and made us aware of what we may have been missing out on in life and with our family members. It provided us mental space, in many instances, that made us question the “why” of our lives.
We also learned more about our colleagues’ personal lives, the concerns of their partners and their children’s woes from lack of social interaction. All of these issues weave into the cultures of our respective organizations.
How do you effectively navigate these real factors of change? While there are many who believe that the world will very soon look the same as it did before the pandemic, the idea of a hybrid workplace seems to have become very real for many leaders. So how do you prepare for that?
One possible answer is to live by or refine your company’s core values that you can follow daily. Out of necessity, Mace Security International established a culture code last year to help us guide our behaviors and meet our goals and commitments. Having a culture code for the entire organization to orient to has provided a great framework for hiring, acceptable behavior, decision-making, onboarding and essentially being the very best at what we do. Our culture is also part of the quarterly employee evaluation process.
Sara Harvey, an executive coach, recently mentioned a quote by her former mentor at a leadership summit that I recently attended. Deepak Chopra, author of several books on well-being and alternative medicine, says that we are in the era of “the survival of the most flexible.” This is clearly becoming a core value worth examining.
The iconic martial artist Bruce Lee famously said, “Be like water.” Water flows and yields. Water responds, rather than reacts. It is not firm or dogmatic like our thoughts and opinions can sometimes be. Many people use water as a metaphor for our emotional state, and as leaders, we must be mindful of the larger perspective of how our employees’ and their families’ lives have been impacted in the last 12 months. This, coupled with your organization’s core values, may help you address the post-pandemic challenges in the workforce.
Brad Dickerson, president of Bombas and current member of the board of directors of Mace declared, “As leaders, we must look at our own wiring first before we look at that of our associates.”
Be like water.
Sanjay Singh is executive chairman of the board of directors at Mace Security International