For business owners, the past couple of years have been incredibly stressful and chaotic. If you’re like many, you’ve been on autopilot and in survival mode. In fact, you’ve been so busy trying to keep the doors open that you haven’t had a moment to pause and ask yourself, Does what we’re doing make sense for the way the marketplace is now?
Workplace trends expert Rick Grimaldi has a suggestion: Before 2022 gets any older, set aside some time to work on your business instead of in your business.
“There have been so many changes since the pandemic started nearly two years ago,” says Grimaldi, the author of FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace. “Really, it’s a completely different world right now. Now is a good time to ask yourself what you might need to change based on evolving conditions.”
Here are just a few questions you might ask yourself:
1. Does our workforce match our current business needs?
For example, do you need more service staff to accommodate new customer behaviors? Do you need to rethink their duties? We’ve all experienced service snags at restaurants that are struggling to handle both dine-in and take-out customers with too few employees (or with a staff who are assigned the wrong tasks). Is something similar happening at your company?
2. Do we need new hiring practices given the diminished talent pool?
With the talent shortage at a ten-year high, it may be time to rethink how you recruit, how much you pay, what incentives you offer, and so forth. It’s challenging to find good people now, but it can be done. You might need to think creatively, but you MUST ensure you’re a more attractive employer than competitors.
3. Are we putting metrics ahead of engagement?
We’ve long known employee engagement matters. Still, the unspoken “but” has always been that metrics (especially performance and financial ones) matter more. Be sure you’re putting engagement at the center of everything—which means doing everything possible to make sure employees feel cared about and listened to, that they feel a sense of belonging, and that it’s safe to speak up when something is wrong.
4. Are we as flexible as we could be in how, when, and where people work?
Millennials and Gen-Zers in particular value work/life integration. As much as possible, accommodate them. If it works for the position, allow fully remote, hybrid, and flexible arrangements. In light of the Great Resignation, it’s vital to give employees a work life that works for them.
5. Are we making employee well-being a priority?
Mental health issues can no longer be in the closet when so many have moved past stress and into trauma territory. Psychological well-being impacts not just engagement, but also productivity, performance, and every aspect of culture. Keep an eye on this issue as you design benefits, career tracks, and work arrangements. And destigmatize mental health issues. It has to be okay to ask for help.
6. What are we doing to move past DEI and create REAL belonging?
We know diversity, equity, and inclusion matter. But don’t just use DEI as a buzzword. Instead, work toward what DEI expert Tristan Higgins calls metaclusivity. Find ways to cultivate a true sense of belonging.
7. Is it time to rethink our vendors and partners?
Supply chain disruptions are wreaking havoc in almost every industry. If shortages are hurting your business, it may be time to consider switching suppliers. Think carefully before jumping ship, though: You may realize preserving a relationship matters more in the long run than easing what are (hopefully) temporary shortages.
Do we have the right legal advisors (and/or HR policies) in place?
The past two years have forced companies to walk a tightrope between worker safety and individual rights/preferences around returning to the office, vaccine mandates, etc. Beyond the pandemic, there are legal issues to navigate around gig workers and employment status, DEI and sexual harassment practices, and so forth. How you handle these complex issues has a huge impact on your culture. Don’t skimp in this area.
“The start of a new year is a good time to think about what you’re doing right, what you could do better, and what needs a total overhaul,” says Grimaldi. “It’s easy to get so buried in the day-to-day grind that we overlook huge problems. Getting intentional about auditing yourself and setting aside a little time to flex as needed can change everything about your future.”
Rick Grimaldi is a workplace trends expert and the author of FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace. Rick’s unique perspective comes from his diverse career in high-ranking public service positions, as a human resources and labor relations professional for an international hi-tech company, and presently in private practice as a partner with Fisher Phillips, LLP, one of America’s preeminent management side labor and employment law firms. Day to day, Rick works with companies to help them adapt to the ever-changing business environment, achieve their workplace goals, and become better employers. Rick is an internationally recognized writer and keynote speaker, and has been selected through a peer review process as one of The Best Lawyers in America© in three of the last four years.
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