(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)
We’re interrupting our series on burnout this week to share a few highlights from a panel discussion I participated in on Tuesday hosted by the Kenan Institute-affiliated Entrepreneurship Center and the Research Triangle Foundation. I was joined by Jami Stewart, vice president of customer experience for Cisco Systems Inc. and Arvind Malhotra, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Professor. We discussed Designing Work for Attracting & Retaining Talent.
If you missed it, enjoy a few of the highlights captured by Rob Knapp, External Affairs Associate at Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.
Hybrid work scheduling is here to stay, and it points to a broader incentive that companies can offer as part of employee recruiting and retention.
“’Hybrid’ is the word we use, (but) I think the real thing is ‘choice,’” said Jami Stewart, Cisco Systems Inc.
Offering choices requires trust, however, and it’s something that consultant, coach and author Jes Averhart says can be in short supply between leaders and their employees.
The panel’s moderator, Arvind Malhotra kicked off the discussion by asking whether hybrid has become a permanent addition to the workplace.
Averhart, founder and CEO of Jes & Co., said the answer is yes, even if we don’t yet know exactly how that workplace should look.
“I have a client right now who’s still trying to imagine what it might look like to bring people back … and also acknowledge that there is a department that is thriving at home because they’re numbers-focused and they need that quiet time and they are at the top of their game,” Averhart said.
Stewart, who oversees teams at Cisco that handle customer care, spoke of the uncertainty that came after a workforce accustomed to being in the office began working from home.
“We had people that went to live with family, changed their entire lifestyle, got dogs, and they’ve been waiting for the last 18 months that one day we were going to say, “You need to come back to the office today,” she said.
“And so relatively early on, I’d say maybe a year ago, I declared to my organization that we are going to offer a choice. You choose.” Offering that flexibility, she said, was the only way for the company to retain talent and attract new talent.
The Great Resignation, which participants agreed was more of a “Great Reshuffle,” has prompted more talk about how to attract workers who have already left their old jobs or are willing to consider something new.
Averhart said women she is working with now are thinking about leaving their companies “because it’s exciting. It’s a little bit of an adrenaline rush, the idea of change.”
Her advice to leaders seeking to retain talent: “Communicate and be transparent about what you have to offer. Don’t hide the ball.” Keeping employees in the dark while plans for the future of the company are being perfected doesn’t help retention because it creates worry and uncertainty.
Next week we’ll pick up with our series on burnout where I’ll share insights from corporate executives who are navigating burnout management while leading global teams.