There are constantly articles in the news that rank the employee experience at one company over another. Years back it was cool to have casual Fridays, frequent team events and a budget to spend on personal development. Those goodies have become more of the norm and don’t make a good differentiator anymore. So, what’s next? What should you do as head of talent development, as a recruiter for young talent or even as the CEO of any growing company that is in need of high performers? Sometimes the solution can’t be found through reviewing hard facts or looking to the outside world. Often, it has to come from the inside. The solution lies with you as the decision-maker of an organization! What a company has to offer is important in today’s workforce, but what will set you apart is your organization’s ability to showcase agility. That’s what I believe will attract the next generation of talent.
A company that provides an agile way of working makes for happier, more engaged employees and less turnover. If you want to improve the employee experience your company offers, you need to know what today’s workers want, and you need to make sure that your leadership team is aware of how big of a role they play in gaining and retaining high-performing talent. Let’s take a look at some of the more common “wants” shared by this new workforce.
Wanted: Agile leaders … but please make it authentic and real!
An agile leader is someone who wants to include every member of their organization so that they can work together and strive for the company’s highest goals while remaining flexible to what people need. Leaders like this are inclusive. They want more feedback and ideas from every person they surround themselves with. The goal is to take knowledge from everyone and create the greatest possible employee experience because that translates into the greatest possible experience for everyone involved. That boosts how clients feel and get treated, which makes the company better as a whole.
Wanted: Transparency … but please make it go both ways!
Many people in supervisory or leadership roles want to know what their employees are up to every moment of the workday. However, they are not willing to provide the same transparency in return. Employees want to know that they are part of a bigger goal. They want to become part of the organization’s culture and be able to respect the leaders of the company. An agile leader will be transparent. They will respond when people ask what projects are being worked on. That way, the employee can see how his or her project relates and feel as though they truly are part of the bigger picture.
Wanted: A coach … but please make it a good one!
In order to create the best work environment possible, agile leaders look at themselves in a more unique perspective. The goal of an agile leader is not just to lead, or even to instruct others, but to coach others on how to grow. When leaders begin seeing themselves as coaches, role models and guides, they approach their employees differently and see higher performance, more passion and happier employees in return.
Wanted: The chance to learn … but please let me make mistakes first!
There is an old saying along the lines of, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying.” This is true when it comes to employee experience as well. True leaders want their employees to reach out, try new things and learn from the experiments they conduct along the way. Some of the things they try will produce amazing results. However, there will also be things that fail and this is a good result. This teaches the employees and the leaders what to avoid in the future while allowing for team building as the experiment goes along.
Wanted: Good old feedback … but please make it open!
When an outstanding employee experience is the goal, thoughtful feedback is a must. People want the chance to talk about what is imperfect about a company so that it can be fixed. In my experience, if there is a constant circle of feedback and you’re able to fix what’s not working, your people’s jobs become their passion and their individual performance will rise even higher — so will your company’s overall performance! It goes from a way of earning a paycheck to a dream career. Agile leaders strive for more feedback at every turn. They use the feedback given to help iron out any bumps in the organization’s culture and create a happy, healthy environment full of inspiration.
I believe the digital transformation is less about technology and more about people and their ability to thrive and perform at their best. Make sure that someone in your leadership team has a hard-coded goal to create an agile organization where young leadership talents have space to thrive and find their passion. Teach your existing and more seasoned leaders how to become more agile, more inclusive and resilient in today’s business world and nudge them into more and more self-reflection. The question should be, “What can I do personally to be the leader my company needs, so I can have some of the happiest, healthiest employees around?” The time to show an agile way of working is now. Not yesterday, not tomorrow — now!