Published: January 11, 2022 | Comments
From the pandemic, we learned that the way people work is changing for the long haul, and there’s no going back. Equally as daunting, I find, is that there is no clear roadmap on how things will play out in the office/hybrid/fully remote arena going forward. Both employees and leaders are still figuring out what they want and need, and how they will get it all done, and every company has different objectives, varying ethos, and cultural components to include in this new way of working.
The good news is that as long as we all own that the journey to reengineering the work environment has really just begun, we will be OK. As long as every group has a representative seat at the table, this next year has the potential for positive outcomes in the workplace.
Here are some considerations for the new year:
Health and safety protocols
There’s no right or wrong here. Companies are shaping their vaccine, testing, social distancing and office hygiene policies more around their company culture and objectives, while also aligning with the regulatory environment. To date I haven’t seen any two companies do it the same. One common denominator: remote work continues to offer the safest option at this point, so investing in remote work as a core strategy continues to make a ton of sense.
Many employees stayed on the sidelines long after jobs started opening up again in 2021. Some people decided to run out unemployment compensation as long as they could, some had no options for child and family care, some decided to totally reengineer their careers, priorities, and income streams.
In response, many businesses implemented material pay adjustments in Q2-Q4 2021, and it’s helping. Applicant flow is improving, but competition for employees is still steep in many sectors. Some companies are taking additional steps to improve applicant flow by doing away with pre-employment assessment tools, like drug testing and personality/skills-based assessments.
It’s not that these things aren’t important, but they are less important right now than that which speeds up your process to fill open positions.
2022 is the right time to review all of your hiring requisites and workflows, and ask yourself how much they will help or materially hinder your core business objectives.
People who are hired in a fully remote capacity (vs. in-office onboarding) need a fast ramp up on connectivity and equipment functionality, as well as consistent exposure to company culture and values from the earliest days of employment. That looks different than what used to take place in office. For example, technical orientation is being moved to the first days of onboarding, allowing people to get good and comfortable with equipment and applications before content training begins. And senior leaders are being scheduled and calendared into live and recorded sessions with new hires to set the stage early on company values and beliefs.
2022 is a good time to update your onboarding processes to ensure they are reflecting your work strategies and optimally supporting your work groups (hybrid or remote).
The last two years have taught us that piling people into eight-hour, live virtual classroom sessions is not all that effective. In fact, piling people into on -ite classrooms for eight hours a day has not been that effective, either. Fallout from new hire training for many companies is on the rise, and one culprit may very well be the quality of learning.
Adults learn best with short bites of materials, by changing channels/activities often, and by frequently sharing their experiences with others. Multi-channel, mixed medium learning is mature, and it is easier and more cost effective to use now than ever before. Design platforms like Adobe Storyline, Articulate, and Captivate take the complexity out of developing training. And there are many apps that are available to simply add your own content, using off-the-shelf templates (e.g. EDAPP, Grove by Cornerstone, Biteable).
We are seeing companies invest in incremental support during new hire learning. New hires are being set up in pods with people of similar schedules and work skills (to help establish long term relationships from the get go). Mentor/partners are assigned from day one, and additional support during the first 60 days for on-phone and off-phone guidance is being added.
2022 is the year to take an extremely fresh approach to your content. Fully remote new hire learning should take less time to complete – not more. With a fresh eye to update content, coupled with a mixed media approach to learning, you can speed up the time to proficiency.
Front line leaders and support managers in the contract center environment carry most of the burden of extending company culture and values, and getting employees involved in the business and with each other. Team sizes are large, there is limited time for team building and engagement activities, and there is usually a pretty broad scope of demographics to appeal to in the employee population. It’s super important to get employee input in development of team building activities, particularly when all or most people are remote.
Automating recognition and reward and contests and promotions ensures that everyone receives a similar experience.
The technology that ties it all together
Priorities for 2022 on the remote work front should include making the employee experience as easy as possible and as safe as possible to pass muster of corporate security requirements. Separating voice from data, regularly using video, and figuring out your equipment management strategy are a couple of examples. Moving processing and storage to the cloud offers so many benefits, and possibilities for the future of remote work. Managing a large equipment inventory can be daunting. Outsourcing that to a company like FirstBase or positioning your business to get away from furnishing equipment at all is a sound long-term remote strategy to consider.
What do you think your priorities will be in this next year of uncertainty? If you want to write about it for ICMI, email our editor at [email protected]