Learning & Development, Recruiting

How Freedom and Accountability Drive the Modern Workplace

In today’s highly competitive market, companies of all sizes and industries have to rethink their approach to recruiting top talent and retaining them. At the same time, there is a pivotal shift happening within the workplace: the move toward a boundaryless and distributed workforce. Unless they’re making or providing products in a manufacturing or service environment, the staff’s performance output is achievable outside a business’s four walls.

While salary and health benefits are still core components of attracting and retaining talent, many now view them as complementary to multiple new factors. While searching for job vacancies, modern talent examines work/life balance and other factors like corporate social responsibility on a scale similar to salary. This is for all steps of the career ladder, not just executives.

Paid for Work, Not Where You Work

I’m a fan of all that goes along with the brick-and-mortar workspace, including watercooler chats, meeting room strategizing, desk-side conversations, team lunch breaks, and surprise celebrations.

But technological innovation makes almost all these connections possible remotely. As importantly, technology makes collaboration attainable to the point where it can surpass standard output.

Messaging and meeting software, digital collaboration tools, cloud computing, and more provide us with the same ability to chat with one another during the workday; schedule and meet face-to-face virtually; and share, view, and edit documents in real time. And, Web security makes this interaction as private as closed doors outside meeting rooms.

This remote agility gives employees more time back in their day and decreases the amount of time wasted getting to or from work or preparing to work. Eliminating commute times is a boon for everyone, removes the stress that can come with it, and offers employees time to focus on work and team productivity.

We place no firm demands on hours worked and instead monitor output. This trust in independence is a reflection of our business leaders. Whether a start-up or a large enterprise, there must be trust because nobody can do every job.

This approach adds workplace value at a high rate. Staff and management stand behind the results they produce, and customers are pleased with those results, so what’s not to like?

Communicate Your Culture

Staff and management must know their roles and responsibilities and those of their teams. Regularly communicating them from the onset, as far in advance as during recruitment and then throughout employment, sets everyone up for success.

Put staff in a position to succeed in their roles by implementing intentional communication throughout onboarding. Design it to be an engaging and deliberate process that connects the talent you’ve hired to the outcomes the business requires and what they’re accountable for achieving.

Don’t stop there. A diverse, inclusive, and ethical employment environment is as essential to recruiting as salary, and the HR department’s efforts directly impact this.

Highlighting the work environment and corporate culture characteristics with the same emphasis as job roles, responsibilities, freedom, and accountability expands the viable candidate pool to fill vacancies. Recruiters will tell you this supportive environment elevates companies over their competitors, making them more attractive to talented prospects, who consider more than salary in their decision-making.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) must be more than just talk. The importance is in active support. Partnerships the company aligns with demonstrate its enthusiastic endorsement for DEI and reflect inclusivity in the workplace. Make actions visible by exhibiting dedication to the diversity of staff and prospective recruits, as people inside and outside the organization look for this commitment.

Learning and Development

It’s imperative to engage with employees from the moment they sign your offer letter. This benefits the business and its culture. Here’s what this can look like:

  • What to expect on day 1, on day 30 or 90, and then periodically;
  • How to be successful here step by step;
  • Constantly looking to improve the onboarding process;
  • Consistency in setting clear expectations; and
  • Exhibiting regular, collaborative communication among managers and team members.

HR professionals need to promote and create intentional interaction that is both informative and cross-collaborative. Designing interaction to be safe and engaging results in even stronger connections than small talk while standing at the self-serve coffee urn of former all-day, all-staff gatherings.

Overlooking work/life balance makes companies suffer and threatens The Great Resignation; people resign because of burnout, overwork, stress, and failing to achieve work/life balance and a good mental state.

What’s astonishing is how simple avoiding these resignations can be. Want to work from San Diego for a month? OK. Work from Australia? Address time zone challenges with management, meet output expectations, and all is OK. Now that remote work is a reality, the possibilities in recruiting the best talent regardless of location have exploded. Permitting worksites to change is acceptable. Just remain consistent and set clear expectations.

If work is fast-paced and unrelenting, build in releases. Working 60-, 70-, or 80-hour weeks isn’t healthy. It was visible during COVID, when, for many people, work was all they had. We told our staff to take time to decompress. Experiencing extreme work hours is unhealthy and most likely reflects a skills gap or a resource deficiency that needs immediate addressing.

Remote Removes Boundaries

One favorable result of the pandemic is the widespread acceptance of working remotely. In sales and other fieldwork, a minor adjustment was necessary. But for recruiting new talent and in operations across different areas of the enterprise, it’s a new world order.

Offer staff more freedom. Work with and allow them to provide input on when, where, and how to do the work. Embrace independence, and manage it. Accept that it’s OK to remove outdated demands on hours worked. Emphasize output and outcomes, and manage autonomy by defining roles and responsibilities—guide leadership in applying oversight using modern teambuilding and performance tactics.

Your efforts will add value at an incredible rate if leadership and customers are pleased with the results of these efforts—outstanding! You’re creating a successful model, one with sustainable traction. Most importantly, you’ll deliver successful outcomes for the enterprise, with individuals engaged in a productive, rewarding culture that pays the company back with results.

Ryan Gormley is the Head of People at Nylas.

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