With the rapidly changing social climate, it’s important to focus on the ways in which we, as technology leaders, are coming to the table with new ideas on how to consistently improve and cultivate the social culture and approach to diversity at our companies. Salesforce research found that employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to be empowered to do their best work. So how do you transform a business from within to encourage greater communication, support a diverse workforce and improve collaboration and productivity? I’ve outlined impactful changes all businesses should consider as they continue to evolve and reinforce company culture.
Creating A Safe And Open Environment
Last year was challenging, and most people thought that with the beginning of this new year we would see big changes. So far, only a third of the way into the year, it seems that 2021 is not to be upstaged. As the vaccine rollout continues to be a talking point, the country has also already seen some big social events: the capitol riots, the humanitarian border crisis, the shootings in Atlanta and the shooting in Boulder, Colorado.
With the world finally starting to make heads or tails of the virus and how everyone has been affected, mentally, physically and emotionally, companies really need to take the time to recognize that events like this do not happen in a vacuum. When life-changing things happen outside the workplace, especially during working hours, it’s hard to tell employees to handle their emotions outside their workday. In response to that, it may be a good time to encourage employees to talk about their feelings, concerns or conflicts in a judgment-free zone where they can rely on the support of their coworkers and managers.
One of the ways we have done this at our company has been to promote employee-led conversations that help to gauge our internal climate. Having these conversations after major events provides an outlet for employees and provides support during these emotional and trying times. These discussions can also foster honesty and education between employees and levels of management and help build trust and understanding. It is important technology leaders ensure their employees are getting the best experience at their workplace, and to make sure they are being heard, appreciated and supported.
Along with the social climate, we are also seeing the most diverse group of different generational backgrounds in the workforce ever. Consequently, that comes with communication errors, differences of opinion, varying experiences and differences in communication preferences. Just recently a member of our team had a conversation with two gentlemen in our company who just could not understand why younger members of the staff do not call each other to communicate.
Oftentimes the Millennial or Gen Z generations are accustomed to getting information as quickly as possible. Instead of being upset or mad if these coworkers do not have the same preferred method of communication as you do, the best way to move forward is to be mindful of the differences between employees and achieve a compromise on communication. For example, instead of always sending a message through our online collaboration tools, our company encourages employees to try to make at least one of their communications during the day a phone call or a video chat. This is especially true in a work-from-home environment where tone and expression can be just as important as the message itself, and by standardizing video calls, employees are more apt to understand the message and the “ask.” Conversely, encouraging Baby Boomers in the organization to send a chat when they need quick resolution can help improve response times and productivity.
Effective training of these tools provides better adoption on both ends and can be the root of compromise. Communication is the basis of great relationships and can only help to better the relationships people have with each other, which in turn, can make a company even stronger.
Encourage Honest Communication
People frequently underestimate the effectiveness of having an honest conversation — especially in the workplace, where employees can often feel like their coworkers or even managers are out to get them. This can, and most often will, disrupt the effective growth of a company. With everyone guarding their feelings and trying to strategically play their cards, there is an infinite number of things that could go wrong.
Generating change and creating an open, communicative workforce can start out small. Develop a program where employees in different departments can get to know each other, offer up a forum for people to discuss world events and happenings, reward employees with one-on-one time with the executive of their choice to pick their brains and ask for advice — these are all small examples to make impactful opportunities for employees to connect on a personal level. Sharing information is key to creating strong relationships. These strong relationships lead to more empathy, self-awareness and respect for others that just might stop your next conflict before it even arrives.
Improving employee engagement is crucial for creating a diverse environment of change, flexibility, open dialogue and community building. I often say that I spend more time with my work family than my real family, and to ensure that our companies are successful, we as tech leaders must encourage trust, communication and understanding, just like we do at home. Implementing these strategies within your workforce can filter down to better performance, better employee retention and better productivity. And that is a win for everyone.
About Andrew Jornod
With almost 25 years of experience in the energy and utilities industry, Andrew is responsible for leading the organization through transformational growth through organic growth and strategic acquisitions. During his tenure, Andrew has led the organization through many new product and solution releases, securing net new clients of VertexOne, divestiture of non-strategic assets, and securing new capital partners to drive continued growth.
Prior to joining VertexOne, Andrew directed the global energy and utilities business unit at HCL. He was instrumental in helping HCL become the fastest growing, and one of the largest utilities service providers globally. Before HCL, Andrew was a Vice President within Oracle’s Utilities Global Business Unit, with responsibilities that included product management and development, and sales and marketing. In addition, he held key roles at Indus, British Telecom, Syntegra, Control Data Systems and Microsoft.