Why Cross-Cultural Communication Is Crucial In The Workplace

Like most countries around the world, the U.S. is a proverbial melting pot of cultures that we encounter almost everywhere. Including at work. The only real response is to embrace it, as cross-cultural communication can and does drive workplace success.

The U.S. already is home to thriving communities from various cultures. According to figures from 2018, more than 44 million people in the U.S. were born in other countries. So, even if there isn’t much cultural diversity in your workplace yet, things aren’t likely to stay that way for long.

Cultural diversity can expose us to aspects of life that we would never have considered, even in our wildest dreams. It also can have significant benefits for your company.

Attract And Retain Top Talent
You can’t have cross-cultural communication without people, and when it comes to the workplace, you want the best people for the job. Your company can attract and retain top talent when drawing from a multicultural pool. A 2020 Glassdoor survey found that 76% of job seekers and employees think of diversity as an important factor when considering job offers, potential employers, or companies.

You can widen the pool of potential employees by including diversity in the recruitment process in a meaningful way. Doing this immediately sets your company apart from many others for candidates based locally, or in other parts of the country or world. A global-minded business not only will attract ambitious, talented employees, it will retain them—and this means lowering the costs of employee turnover.

Inspire Innovation
Our individual worldviews are shaped partly by our cultures, which can be limiting if everyone on the team shares roughly the same perspectives. The cross-cultural communication that happens in diverse teams can introduce different points of view. It also provides a truly eclectic mix of professional and personal experience.

This can inspire creativity and innovation in ways that would not have been possible in a monocultural workspace.

One global brand that can attest to the power of multiculturalism in meeting customer needs, problem-solving, and reaching new audiences is L’Oréal. The cosmetics company has enjoyed tremendous success in emerging markets, thanks to its culturally diverse product development teams.

Improve Marketing
Cross-cultural communication as a driver of workplace success is not limited to product development. The local market knowledge and cross-cultural understanding within a diverse team can lead to the creation of marketing strategies and materials that are effective while being sensitive to local cultures.

If your company needs to translate the website, brochures, and other material into another language, native speakers of that language should tackle the task. Native speakers understand nuances and sensitivities that non-native speakers might be unaware of.

Cross-cultural sensitivities aren’t limited to website, advertising, and brochure copy. The designs and other imagery your company uses in its marketing materials can benefit from communication across cultures too.

Imagery and design that works in one context may be offensive in another. In worst-case scenarios, culturally insensitive advertising could seriously damage your brand. Meaningful cross-cultural communication and diversity in the workplace can help your company avoid those blunders.

Challenges Call For Cultural Intelligence
Cross-cultural communication in the workplace offers the above and other benefits. But it’s not without its challenges. One of those challenges is the differences in the way we communicate—and accents and languages are only part of it.

What we think of as ‘normal’ is largely a product of our cultural conditioning. Things are ‘normal’ because they’re familiar to us. When we encounter something that doesn’t fit into our idea of ‘normal’, we’re sometimes tempted to immediately judge it as something ‘wrong’. We make an assumption before we consider whether there’s a cultural explanation for the behavior.

Developing cultural intelligence and good verbal and non-verbal cross-cultural communication skills is essential for success in a diverse workplace.

Non-Verbal Communication
Most people are aware that people from other countries and cultures may speak different languages. We readily accept that there are differences in language, and we make allowances for that. What some of us might not be aware of is that there also are differences in non-verbal communication. It comes as a surprise to some people to learn that body language is not universal.

Everything from facial expressions to eye contact, and from touching someone to gesticulating with your hands, can mean different things in different cultures.

For example, in European and European-derived cultures, it’s appropriate for businesspeople to shake hands. While in Japan, bowing is the preferred greeting. American job seekers are taught that making eye contact during interviews is respectful. To Ghanaians, however, making extended eye contact in that context is considered disrespectful and aggressive.

Consider implementing sensitivity training if you have a culturally diverse team in which non-verbal communication needs improvement.

Conflict Resolution In Culturally Diverse Workplaces
Given some of the challenges of diversity in the workplace, conflict is bound to arise sooner or later. Especially when employees are under pressure, busy schedules take their toll, and the demands of work pile up. Whether long-simmering cultural tensions get stirred up or a well-meant gesture gets misinterpreted, disagreements are par for the course.

Employees may also have disagreements regarding workplace decisions, tasks, or processes—and it’s important to understand that your employees don’t necessarily see those disagreements as personal attacks. Furthermore, people usually are happy to resolve those disagreements in rational ways. If HR or management needs to intervene, they must do so in culturally sensitive ways.

Tips For Cross-Cultural Communication
The following tips for good communication in the workplace can be effective in culturally diverse contexts.

Be clear in your message—Do not leave things to chance, inference, implication, or interpretation. State your message clearly so that there’s no chance of misunderstandings.
Clearly definite expectations—Ensure your team knows exactly what’s expected of them to avoid miscommunication.
Listen carefully—Give your employees undivided attention when they share feedback with you.
Ask questions—Ask employees questions and encourage them to do the same with you and with one another. Some workers might be reluctant to express their views if they’re not expressly asked to do so.
Give positive feedback—Provide your employees with positive feedback to reinforce your valuing of their diversity.
The Way Forward
Diversity and cross-cultural communication are the way forward for businesses in the U.S. and around the world. Use this advice to help you navigate the topic, increase retention, and boost workplace satisfaction.


Create a virtual watercooler to spark innovative problem-solving

Innovation is frequently associated with product development, whether it was Henry Ford’s mass-production of the Model T leading to vastly improved assembly lines or Steve Jobs building that first Apple computer in a garage in Los Altos. But innovation also plays a role in the seemingly mundane but vital activity of solving day-to-day operational problems. If salespeople are chasing the same leads or if scheduling shifts for care workers is confusing and capricious, it can damage productivity and demoralize staff. And rather than rely on processes or work orders to address such issues, companies often find that spontaneous, interactive, and collaborative brainstorming moments can deliver a solution. When communication suffers, so does innovative problem-solving. And because the forced move to remote working has sharply impacted the capacity for gatherings around the watercooler (or coffee machine or foosball table), the potential to engage in problem-solving has declined as well.
Two things have to happen to remedy the situation. First, you need to identify how communications between colleagues are failing. Second, you need to be proactive to restore them in ways that will encourage people to collaborate, innovate, and share ideas about concerns. There are ways to do both.

Data helps raise red flags. PwC’s internal survey of 599 people working in B2B businesses conducted in April 2020, close to the onset of the pandemic, showed that 40 percent of workers believe that the ability to collaborate across their organization had decreased since COVID-19 began, and 27 percent reported that their ability to be innovative had deteriorated. We corroborated that finding with a separate look at more data from 2,500 people in a range of industries and regions, a representative sample of those using PwC’s Perform Plus collaboration tool, which allows people to log their concerns. We used a machine-learning algorithm to sort thousands of problems into different categories, then cross-referenced the information to understand if teams within organizations were sharing problems. It turns out they weren’t. Before lockdown, duplication of effort happened for about one in five problems raised (21 percent). But during lockdown, when communication was spottier, the rate of duplicated problem-solving efforts increased to 30 percent.

The good news is that structured collaboration tools can help identify when things change. The Perform Plus software platform is designed to get people together regularly in huddles around a whiteboard or virtually during the pandemic to review their performance, and discuss their focus for the day and any issues they want to raise with managers. Among teams that used it, it helped to drive daily discussions about concerns and well-being (among other things), and when red flags were raised, the stats on duplicated effort improved, falling back to 20 percent (see chart below).

Data from 2,500 users shows that although problems went down when COVID lockdowns began, the share of duplicated effort to address those problems rose. By June 2020, the use of collaborative tools reduced incidents of duplicated effort to pre-pandemic levels.

Establishing where there is a lack of communication only gets you so far. The next step is coming up with strategies to solve the day-to-day problems that good communication brings to the surface. Collaboration and innovation are needed to eliminate duplicate problem-solving efforts. As the business world moves to a hybrid working model, there will be fewer spontaneous encounters overall than there were when people were in the office five days a week. Consequently, we need to develop new ways of creating virtual watercooler moments that result in collaborative innovation. Doing so will require new ways of working for all team members and across organizations.

Here are four practical ways to help boost creative innovation in a virtual world that will work now, when people are out of their offices, and when they return.

1. Quantify the collaboration challenge in your organization. To understand how people in a team solve problems, you need to measure the health of collaborative activities. This is no easy feat. Isolation can magnify tendencies to go it alone. Imagine an office with no break rooms, no canteens, or no corridors for chance encounters. That’s the remote environment. Having regular check-ins and recording outcomes is crucial, since it is the only way management can understand where collaboration is faltering.

More PwC insights

Productivity 2021 and beyond: Five pillars for a better workforce
We saw how a U.K. social care organization was having a hard time optimizing and managing its on-duty (i.e., emergency response) rotation remotely. With a team made up of both staffers and volunteers, all working from home, communication was random. Some workers believed they were only supposed to be on standby, so they did not set their status as “available”; others who were not on the roster that day continued to check in because they were worried that some shifts weren’t covered. Over a period of 11 months, across 13 teams, 120 problems were raised around duty management, an average of 11 per month. When this data surfaced, via the daily check-ins, the group was able to focus as a team on how to improve things.

2. Build a virtual watercooler. Lean into spontaneity. In the 1970s, research studies demonstrated that there was a sharp drop in communication among technical workers as the physical distance between them increased. Even if your organization is transitioning to a hybrid work schedule, the experience of remoteness is likely to persist, because not everybody will be present at the office on the same day. If this is happening, experiment with how to create impromptu exchanges in a world where everything, down to virtual coffees or Friday beer nights, is planned.

Intranet-based chat rooms, like those on chat group apps, where topics can be raised and discussed openly, are one option. And other less structured solutions are beginning to appear that aim to build spontaneity into the virtual world. There are apps, for example that replace the usual on-screen grid of people sitting at home office desks with virtual maps, sometimes superimposed over parks, where people can move themselves around, explore, and interact with others. Such an interface makes online conversations more interesting and makes unplanned watercooler moments more likely. If one solution isn’t working, experiment with others.

3. Slow down and embrace different perspectives. Your workforce is made up of individuals who have both breadth and depth of experience. Give them time during virtual check-ins or meetings to deconstruct the problems they face and reframe them. One advantage of a remote working environment is that geography is a non-issue, so you can include far-flung employees who will bring more perspectives to the exercise. Encourage individuals who may be quiet or shy to share their ideas. Leverage the diversity of thought that surely exists and make everyone’s voice heard.

Collaboration and innovation are needed to eliminate duplicate problem-solving efforts. As the business world moves to hybrid working, there will be fewer spontaneous encounters than there were when people were in the office five days a week.

“There are a range of simple yet powerful tools anyone can use to slow down and increase participation in group ideation,” says Amy Lonton, a facilitator at The Difference, PwC’s specialist group that helps teams solve complex issues collaboratively. Even in a virtual world, use basic online sharing tools or simply ask participants to use pen and paper. Remember, the quality of the idea is less important than the conversation it stimulates. Lonton suggests asking people to write down their first, instinctive response to a challenge. Not only does it give quieter voices a chance to contribute but it flattens hierarchies. “It actively encourages divergent thinking and signifies desire for collaboration over perfection as you look for solutions. We have a saying in our work: ‘Slow down to speed up.’ This is about slowing down and holding back from solutions and possibly even letting meetings go completely off-course if they need to. When we jump to easy fixes without really embracing the complexity we’re facing, we simply delay the problem rather than solve it,” says Lonton.

4. Play with problems. Whether you’re in a remote or hybrid working world, asking people to play with an idea can spark a solution, though it might seem strange or even terrifying to some. “When we play together, space is made for instinct, feeling, and nonverbal responses that charge through our rational filter, revealing how confined we were in our thinking before we opened up to other ways of looking at a problem,” says Lonton. “In this situation, no idea that’s proffered is ‘wrong.’”

She recommends asking participants to look at the problem through a totally different lens, by imagining themselves in a different role in the organization, as an outsider, or as a child or an alien from another planet. “When you are in character, ask, ‘What do I now see, what more have I learnt about this challenge, what questions would I now ask of it?’” Once these exercises have sparked the key attributes of play — empathy, curiosity, humor, and comfort with uncertainty — the team can apply these attributes to the way they approach the real problem at hand.

Not all forms of productivity declined when we moved overnight to a virtual working world. But the change did impede innovative problem-solving. And because you can only monitor what you measure, having data is remarkably important. The creation of remote watercooler moments now and in the future of hybrid work needs to be carefully and thoughtfully orchestrated. In PwC’s 24th Annual CEO Survey, 30 percent of CEOs said that, when it comes to workforce strategy, they wanted to drive competitiveness through workforce engagement and communications. Those organizations that master the art and science of spotting what has fallen through the cracks because of disruption will be able to ensure that productivity, innovation, and well-being don’t drop. They will be able to act early to repair or maintain the vital but surprisingly delicate communications web among colleagues.


Facilitate collaborative breakthrough with these moves

Early in my career as a facilitator of multi-stakeholder collaborations, my colleagues and I led a two-year strategy project for a Fortune 50 logistics company. The company’s established way of doing things was vertical: the CEO managed by giving forceful, detailed directives, which had produced coordination and cohesion that enabled outstanding business success. But the COO thought the company’s situation was dangerous. Globalization and digitization were changing the competitive landscape, and he wanted employees from across the organization to collaborate more horizontally to create innovative responses.

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My team worked with the COO and his colleagues to agree on a project scope, timeline, and process, and to charter a cross-level, cross-departmental team. The process we designed for the team was more egalitarian and creative than what they were used to. They immersed themselves in the changes in their market by spending time on the front lines of the organization, going on learning journeys to successful organizations in other sectors, and constructing scenarios of possible futures. They participated in workshops that emphasized full engagement on the part of all team members and that included structured exercises designed to generate, develop, and test innovative options.

This transformative process enabled breakthrough by creating a space in which the company’s command-and-control culture—which assumed that the bosses knew best—was suspended. This in turn enabled greater contribution by participants from different departments and from different levels in the hierarchy. The project team cut across the siloed organization, where lines of communication ran up and down rather than from side to side, so the process enabled greater connection. And the company had a steep hierarchy of privilege, with senior people having much greater compensation and agency, so the process also enabled more equitable contribution and connection. By enabling contribution, connection, and equity, our transformative facilitation helped this team come up with and implement a set of initiatives to launch new service offerings and to streamline company operations.

A facilitator enables greater contribution, connection, and equity—and thereby forward movement—by alternating between two types of moves: vertical ones that focus on the unity of the group as a whole and horizontal ones that focus on the plurality of the individual members of the group (see table).

These moves help address five questions that participants and facilitators in all collaborations—regardless of the particulars of the situation—need to work through.

• How do we see our situation? In other words, what is actually happening? This question is about the reality that the group is working together to address. If we can’t understand our reality, we can’t be effective in transforming it.

• How do we define success? What outcomes are we trying to produce through our efforts? If we don’t know what our finish line is, we can’t know whether we’re making progress.

• How will we get from here to there? What is our route from where we are to where we want to be? This question is about the way we will move forward—the approach, process, methodology, and steps.

• How do we decide who does what? What is our approach to coordinating and aligning our efforts? This question is about how we will organize ourselves to collaborate across our differences, without necessarily relying on our usual roles and hierarchies.

• How do we understand our role? What is our responsibility in this situation? This question is about how we each position ourselves with regard to our situation and our collaborative effort to address it.

These questions all arise right from the beginning of every collaboration, but they usually don’t get answered all at once or definitively. Facilitators and participants need to deal with them repeatedly and iteratively over the duration of the collaboration, whether that is days or decades.

Vertical facilitation Horizontal facilitation
Primary focus The good of the whole of the group (group is singular) The good of each member of the group (group is plural)
Strategy for moving forward together Pushing from the top down (compelling)
Relying on expertise and authority Pushing from the bottom up (asserting)
Relying on participants choosing what they will do
Organizing principle Hierarchy of the higher over the lower and the larger over the smaller Equality
Upsides Coordination and cohesion Autonomy and variety
Downsides Rigidity and domination Fragmentation and gridlock
Examples Corporate planning exercise
Policy formation process Team training
Community dialogue
Multi-stakeholder alliance
How transformative facilitation works
Vertical facilitation is common and seductive because it offers straightforward and familiar answers to these five questions. In this approach, both the participants and the facilitator typically give confident, superior, controlling answers to the five questions (i.e., they identify one way to reach their goals). In horizontal facilitation, by contrast, participants typically give defiant, defensive, autonomous answers, and the facilitator supports this autonomy (i.e., each participant will find their own way to reach their goals).

The vertical and horizontal approaches answer the five collaboration questions in opposite ways. In transformative facilitation, the facilitator helps the participants alternate between the two approaches. This is how the group gets the best of both, avoids the worst, and moves forward together.

Here’s how it works, in the context of each of the five questions that are at the core of all collaborative efforts.

How do we see our situation? Often, when collaborating, each of the participants and the facilitator starts off with a confident vertical perspective: “I have the right answer.” Each person thinks, “If only the others would agree with me, then the group would be able to move forward together more quickly and easily.” But when members of the group take this position too far or hold it for too long and start to get stuck in rigid certainty, the facilitator needs to help them explore other points of view, a collaboration move I call inquiring. Doing this helps the group invite different ideas and therefore gain horizontal perspective. When participants are pounding the table, certain that they have the right answer, the facilitator can start by encouraging them to add “In my opinion” to the beginning of their sentences. This sentence stub opens the door to inquiry: to participants asking, of one another and of themselves, “Where—from what experience or data—does this thinking come from?”

A facilitator enables greater contribution, connection, and equity—and thereby forward movement—by alternating between vertical and horizontal moves.

Participants can also take a horizontal perspective when collaborating: “We each have our own answer.” Taking this approach too far and for too long, however, is also problematic and can lead to cacophony and indecision. In this case, the facilitator needs to help the participants advocate for the point of view they think is correct, so they can try to convince others and as a result move toward the clarity and decisiveness of vertical unity.

The facilitator moves between advocating and inquiring, and in doing so encourages the group to do the same. Through this cycling, the group and the facilitator gradually and iteratively clarify their understanding of where they are and what this implies for what they need to do next.

How do we define success? The vertical perspective on this question is “We need to agree.” But when collaborators get stuck on this demand for conclusion, the facilitator needs to help them keep moving by asking, “What is your next step?” One of my most important learnings as a facilitator has been that in order for people to move forward together, agreement is not required as often or on as many matters as most people think.

It’s also possible, though, for participants to go too far with the unfocused horizontal: “We each just need to make progress.” When this happens, the facilitator needs to help the group pause to work out what outcomes they can agree to focus on by asking, “What do we agree on?”

In doing this cycling between advancing and concluding, the facilitator is working with a key tool of facilitation: the pace and timing of the process. And by supporting the group in this way, the facilitator can help the group clarify their understanding of where they want to go.

How will we get from here to there? Often, each participant in a collaboration and the facilitator think they know the way to get where they want to go. This is a vertical mindset. But just as with the other questions involved in collaborating, a group can get stuck here. The facilitator needs to help participants experiment with pathways to their goals by asking, “What other options do we have?”

Later, when the participants start to get stuck in the horizontal view—“We will each just find our way as we go”—the facilitator can help them map a common way forward by nudging them to agree on a plan of action for the group.

Sometimes the facilitator needs to persist with the planned process for the work of the group, and the group needs to persist with its planned course of action to address the problematic situation. Sometimes they both need to pivot to deal with what is actually happening, which is different from what they had planned. By cycling between mapping and discovering, the group and the facilitator slowly clarify their way forward.

How do we decide who does what? The facilitator helps the participants work with the fourth question by encouraging them to alternate between directing (like the director of an orchestra or band) and accompanying (like an accompanist playing piano or drums). A vertical perspective—“Our leaders decide”—can be the group’s initial position on how to decide who does what. But this can lead to ineffective bossiness. The facilitator needs to encourage each participant to claim responsibility for their own actions.

However, when the participants start to get stuck in their unaligned horizontal actions, the facilitator needs to direct from the front of the group to help people find alignment by suggesting a way forward for the team as a whole.

How do we understand our role? When participants in a collaboration think about their role in the problem they’re trying to solve, they often see themselves in a vertical position, standing outside the problem, looking in, and being there to fix what’s wrong. But this feeling of cold remoteness from the problem can make it hard for the group to come up with solutions that reflect an understanding of the needs and capacities of the stakeholders involved. So the facilitator needs to help participants consider how they are part of the problem and therefore have the leverage to be part of the solution—by asking them to consider their own role in and responsibility for what is going on.

But if the participants start to get stuck in a self-centered and myopic horizontal view, positioning themselves inside the problem and focusing on putting their own house in order, the facilitator needs to help them get a clearer, less partisan perspective on what is happening.

Sometimes facilitators also need to stand outside the collaborative process to get a clearer perspective on what is happening, and sometimes they need to stand inside it to recognize the ways in which they are themselves part of the problem and therefore have the leverage to be part of the solution.

Transformative facilitation, transformative outcomes
Every group that is collaborating needs to work through the five basic questions—not just once at the beginning of the collaboration, but multiple times, iteratively, as the collaboration unfolds. The facilitator, therefore, needs to make the alternating horizontal and vertical moves over and over. Facilitating in this transformative way can help groups break down barriers to contribution, connection, and equity, and thus move forward together on their most important and daunting challenges.


Gen Z Wants to go Back to the Office

These workers grew up in the digital space. They are naturally tech-savvy and enjoy setting their own hours. Wouldn’t that mean remote work is perfect for them? Not quite.

In fact, out of all the workplace generations (Baby Boomer, Gen X, or Millennials), Gen Z is the most eager to return to the office. This includes all workers born between the years 1997 and 2012.

The Experience of Working in an Office
As recent college graduates and entry-level jobholders, Gen Z is eager to experience what it’s like working in an office.

Gen Z is more willing than other generations to get back to the traditional work environment. In fact, 40% of college students and recent graduates said they prefer in-person work.

They are seeking an office culture and direct feedback from managers. And some of these Gen Z workers don’t want to miss out on office amenities like free snacks or company fitness centers.

Gen Z Needs More Space to Work
Not having enough room to work is the primary reason Gen Z wants back in the office. Many of these young workers are fresh out of college and living with their parents or in a small apartment with roommates.

5 Myths About Gen Z Every Recruiter Should Forget
They struggle with not having enough space to work, maintaining a work-life balance, staying distraction-free, and not having the adequate supplies to do their jobs effectively.

One study from Microsoft found that 42% of employees don’t have essential office supplies at home. Furthermore, 46% said their employers don’t help with remote work expenses. More than half of Generation Z workers also said they felt unproductive and unmotivated working from home. As a result, they feel bored, struggle to sleep, and can’t focus for long periods of time.

Only 13% of Gen Z remote workers experienced no challenges with remote work and said they loved it.

Concerns Over Receiving Promotions
Gen Z employees expect higher salaries and regular promotions. They believe returning to the office will help achieve this goal. One study found that 75% of Gen Z workers want a promotion for their first job within one year.

Besides returning to the office as soon as possible, many Gen Z workers said they are willing to work harder and longer to achieve their higher salary goals.

Not only do they want to feel secure from layoffs (after watching family members lose their jobs in 2008 and 2020) but they also seek opportunities to learn new skills that will enhance their career ambitions.

What Does This Mean for Employers Going Forward?
Gen Z will eventually account for a quarter of the workforce. HR professionals should strive to understand what specific challenges this generation is facing and understand that they can’t be treated the same as Millennial workers. Although only a decade separates them, both generations have different workplace preferences and values.


10 Proven Actions to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

America’s largest companies and their CEOs increasingly embrace a new leadership role in advancing racial equity, they face a confounding question: What really works? Despite decades of research and a growing corporate focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) over the past few years, many executives are unsure what actions are most effective at increasing diverse representation, improving feelings of inclusion, or making progress on other DEI goals.

Integrating DEI into organizational practices is nuanced, complex work—and relatively nascent. Robust, comparable multi-year DEI outcomes data is hard to come by. Even among those companies most committed to defining and measuring DEI progress, results take time, and there are few benchmarks against which to measure them.

Many studies exist of specific employer DEI efforts or practices that have led to strong DEI outcomes, but parsing through that literature to make data-driven decisions is challenging. At Bain and at Grads of Life, we frequently hear C-suite leaders say, “I don’t know where to start,” or “the amount of information and tools is overwhelming.” Many simply want a blueprint for what’s been effective for other companies.

To that end, we have developed a shortlist of the strongest evidence-based DEI actions, based on a thorough review of more than 100 research sources, primarily academic literature, and informed by our experiences supporting our clients and engaging with DEI thought leaders (see our methodology below).

Ultimately, we found 10 actions worthy of increased employer attention and investment today:

Express C-suite commitment and formalize accountability

Adopt a skills-first approach to talent acquisition

Diversify talent pipelines through work-based experiences

Provide family-sustaining wages and benefits

Communicate skills-based career pathways

Offer voluntary DEI training for all

Listen to and learn from experiences of employees

Invest resources in cross-training and upskilling

Create mentoring and sponsorship programs

Build a diverse supply chain

Each of the actions above resulted in one or more positive outcomes for an organization’s diverse or underrepresented talent, including:

improved rates of recruitment and hiring;
increased levels of representation in an organization;
increased feelings of engagement and belonging; and
increased rates of retention and internal promotion.
We also examined how widely implemented these actions are, and, for those not yet widely implemented, we examined the biggest barriers to accelerating adoption. We evaluated these actions within a framework that spans all the core areas of business operations.The most effective diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies span key areas of business operations inside and outside of the company’s walls

Our analysis also revealed that half of the 10 actions are not yet mainstream despite the strong research behind them. Employers should prioritize these actions and explore how to overcome potential barriers to implementation. The remaining actions are already quite common, yet companies need to be aware of important nuances in order to implement them effectively. While many employers already have experience with these actions, there are ways to connect them more effectively to DEI strategy and outcomes

The 10 most effective actions include 5 that are not yet mainstream and 5 that, though common, can often be deployed more effectively

We also found that a combination of several, or all, of these actions, is more powerful than anyone acting on its own. While many of these actions alone can drive improvements when taken together, the actions are mutually reinforcing: The more you implement, the greater likelihood of seeing strong DEI outcomes. In conjunction with this report, Bain & Company and Grads of Life have released The DEI Opportunity Identifier, a self-assessment tool that allows companies to assess themselves against all the DEI actions described here as well as many others.

Take the Assessment
How Is Your Company Doing on Its DEI Journey?
To assess your best opportunities to advance, explore this demo version of the DEI Opportunity Identifier built by Bain & Company and Grads of Life.

In each of the individual action pages that comprise this report, we present a synthesis of insights from the research about the action, analyze what it takes to successfully implement each action, and explore why some of the actions are not yet pervasive among US employers despite their strong evidence base.

How employers can take action
Many employers have already articulated or expanded a commitment to diversity over the past year. There are several concrete ways employers can use the information in this report to help fulfill those commitments.

Connect and learn: Consider joining a local or national business coalition committed to adopting actions such as the ones articulated here. OneTen, the Business Roundtable’s Multiple Pathways Initiative, CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, and the New York Jobs CEO Council are all examples of corporate coalitions focused on taking action to increase equity through employment. Many of them engage in frequent peer learning, knowledge sharing, tool development, and, in some cases, technical assistance on implementation.
Assess and invest: Explore which of the 10 key actions outlined in this report are ripe for further investment at your company. While these actions are defined to be universally applicable to companies of all sizes and industries, DEI looks different at every company, and each company is at a different place on its DEI journey; individual context remains essential in analyzing what to do from here. We encourage employers to conduct a self-assessment on progress against goals using the Opportunity Identifier and to explore ways to apply the evidence-based actions described here to their organizations.
Measure and report: Similar to most business strategies, DEI comes with continuous learning and improvement. There is still much to discover about the nuanced approaches to these actions that are most effective in driving results. We encourage employers to rigorously measure outcomes of each intervention and, where possible, report on those outcomes to employees, researchers, and other employers to help inform working knowledge in this field.
How investors can take action
Investors are increasingly interested in, and demanding, meaningful human capital data as one means of assessing a corporation’s total value. Over the past two years, a global outcry for racial justice, coupled with the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, have resulted in increased scrutiny from investors, consumers, and other stakeholders on environmental, social, and corporate governance factors that help paint a picture of a company’s total social impact. We encourage investors to use the data and evidence in this report to monitor and measure key human capital actions and their outcomes among the companies in which they invest and to use their position to influence companies to be more transparent on DEI data.

We hope that other stakeholders, including members of the philanthropic community, grassroots organizers, and policymakers, also find value in the findings summarized here and will take the opportunity to share relevant insights with their networks. Investments into DEI have positive effects that go far beyond the four walls of a corporation; they ultimately lead to greater community and national prosperity and well-being.


Pros And Cons Of Employee Monitoring

Being aware of how employees spend their work hours is critical to the growth of a business. According to Mckinsey, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to businesses adopting remote working. According to Upwork 2021 report, about 68% of hiring managers prefer remote working. The increasing need for employee screen monitoring has led to an increase in demand for screen monitoring software. While there are numerous benefits linked to the use of this software, there are some disadvantages users need to be aware of.

Should you be using remote employee monitoring software? Find out more about how it works, along with its pros and cons, and decide for yourself. Below is a list of the pros and cons of the software for employee monitoring.

Pros of Using Employee Tracking Software
1.Real-time Activity Levels Help You Identify Productivity Trends
Management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Drucker means that you can’t know whether or not you are successful unless success is defined and tracked. Activity rates based on mouse and keyboard usage can illuminate productivity trends over time. This can help employers to identify high levels and recognize them. Similarly, it also helps to spot potential bottlenecks and check-in. Time and activity data can help employers to prepare more accurate estimates, budget better.

2. Increased Employee Productivity and Team Performance
If employees are aware they are being monitored, they become more efficient and conscious of their actions thus increasing productivity and profits. Also, companies are able to spot employees who are under-performing. For example, with the time-tracking tool, the time-in, break time and time-out of each employee can be monitored and those who report to work late, spend extra time during break time or spend a lot of time going through social media pages can be detected.

3. Increased Savings
Implementation of work tool surveillance tools has been proven to be money-saving because when employees are monitored, their productivity increases. Increased productivity means employees are productive during the time employers are paying them. This reduces waste and increases savings.

4. Cost Effectiveness
Most employee monitoring software are affordable and cost effective. The amount you pay depends on the features you requested for. With this little fee, you can save your company from employee monitoring hassles and increase productivity.

5. Protection of Company Data
The software alerts business owners each time someone wants to gain unpermitted access to the company’s data. It notifies the business owner of people who accessed their data and for how long. They can also monitor websites visited, files saved and protect the company from security threats and insider breach.

Cons of Using Employee Monitoring Software
1. Understanding the Data Can Be Time-consuming
Employers may find it difficult to interpret the reports from such software except for the ones that present simplified reports.

2. Employees May Feel Monitored and Pressured
The feeling of being monitored may make the employees develop a feeling of resentment for their employer and this negatively impacts on the growth of the business. Knowing they are always monitored makes them feel their employer does not trust them. To avoid problems like this, they should be informed and be actively involved in the implementation. They need to understand they are not being victimized and that the policy is only targeted at improving the company’s performance.

3. Potential Threat to Employees Privacy
Regularly monitoring employee activities increases the chances of employers stumbling on employees’ confidential documents. These documents can be misused by hackers if they successfully gain access to the computer used in the tracking.

Installation of the employee screen monitoring software requires adequate considerations and proper planning to ensure minimal resistance from employees and prevent a breach of employee rights. The 9 tools for managing remote employees from Gethppy.com may be helpful if you experience challenges.


After the crisis: rapid evolution, not revolution

Companies in Europe are very much looking ahead, beyond COVID-19, according to more than 1,300 CFOs. Extreme post-pandemic scenarios involving radical changes to supply chains and wholesale adoption of remote working do not seem likely to play out. A majority of CFOs expect a future of predominantly digital client interactions and are focusing on their digital transformation. Adaptable employees, structures that enable fast decision-making and honest stakeholder communication will help business leaders to meet the challenge.

Entering the post-COVID world
“Unprecedented times” – this term, used in the English language since at least 1795,1 has become a cliché since 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to address it have required people around the world to rapidly adopt different ways of interacting, working and conducting business.

The pandemic, now in its second year, continues to dominate the global picture. But, with multiple successful vaccines being rolled out, many countries are gradually lifting COVID-19 restrictions and beginning to emerge from the crisis. As the dust settles and life returns to some sort of normality, it is time to take stock and identify the probable long-lasting changes to the business environment. To this end the Spring 2021 edition of the European CFO survey asked almost 1,300 CFOs across 19 European countries to assess which phase of the COVID crisis their company is in, which aspects of their operations are going to change and which key areas they are prioritising as they seek to build resilient organisations.

The Deloitte European CFO Survey
Since 2015 Deloitte has conducted the European CFO Survey, giving voice twice a year to Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) from across Europe. Besides providing an overview of business sentiment in Europe, each edition focuses on a topical issue. The Spring 2021 edition focused on the long-term consequences of COVID-19. The data was collected in March 2021. The results in this article are based on the answers of 1,296 CFOs. For further details, please visit Deloitte.com.

Leaning forward, not looking back
In March 2020, when it became clear that COVID-19 was becoming a global threat, Deloitte laid out a framework defining three critical phases companies must navigate as a crisis unfolds. In the Respond phase, a company deals with the new situation and focuses on managing continuity. In the Recover phase, a company learns from the crisis and begins to emerge stronger. In the Thrive phase, the company prepares for and helps to shape the “next normal”.2

Asked to assess which phase of the COVID crisis their organisation is in, two in three CFOs (66 per cent) report that they are already in the Thrive phase. Only 14 per cent feel they are still in the Respond survival mode.

The three phases of a crisis
A typical crisis plays out over three time frames:
Respond, in which a company deals with the present situation and manages continuity

Recover, during which a company learns and emerges stronger

Thrive, where the company prepares for and shapes the “next normal”.

Resilient organisations rapidly and successfully cycle through these phases – not just for COVID-19, but for every crisis.

In general, smaller companies (defined as those with annual revenues of up to €100 million) appear to be at an earlier stage of recovery, with 22 per cent still in the Respond phase. By contrast, only 6 per cent of CFOs in large companies (defined as those with annual revenues of €1 billion or more) are in the same position. Unsurprisingly, the share of executives who say they are in the Respond phase is significantly higher in sectors that have been hit harder by the pandemic. More than half (53 per cent) of the CFOs in tourism and travel declare that they are still managing continuity while that is the case for only 4 per cent of respondents in life sciences and health care. Nonetheless, a positive mood is widespread and suggests that many companies in Europe have turned the page on COVID-19 and have begun to focus on the emerging post-COVID business environment.

The pillars of the post-pandemic future
If, as seems the case, the world is emerging into the post-pandemic era, it is worth examining what this new environment will look like. COVID-19 has affected how businesses operate in many ways, but especially in three areas: the rise of remote working; the digitisation of business interactions – particularly with clients or customers; and supply chain operations. In this section, we will therefore explore how financial executives in Europe see the future in these three areas and test the extent to which the changes experienced so far (or those expected) will stick.

Downsizing remote working
2020 was the year that remote working went mainstream. According to Deloitte’s estimates, across Europe more than 100 million employees switched to remote working because of lockdown measures, with almost 45 million doing so for the first time.3 This massive experiment worked much better than many had expected. A few companies even announced they would allow remote working to continue indefinitely for workers who prefer it. Others are less sanguine about this prospect.4

But a future where a majority of employees will work remotely on a permanent basis – as was often envisioned early in the pandemic – does not seem to be on the cards. More than 60 per cent of executives in the survey reject this idea. Even in industries with more potential for remote working, such as technology, more than half of CFOs disagree that in the post-pandemic environment the majority of their employees will be working remotely on a permanent basis.

Nevertheless about one-third of respondents agree that the real-estate footprint of their company is going to be significantly smaller than before the pandemic. This is particularly the case among CFOs in technology, media and telecommunications (TMT), as well as in financial services. In general, the share of respondents reporting that they plan to reduce their companies’ real-estate footprint increases with the size of the business (as measured by yearly revenues; figure 2).

Therefore, even if COVID-19 has not put an end to the office, it has certainly sparked deeper reflection on its role and, for some companies, a re-evaluation of their real-estate strategy.

Client interaction goes digital – but not universally
Quarantines, lockdowns and self-imposed isolation have forced companies to interact with their customers through digital channels. According to recent estimates in a United Nations report, online retail’s share of total retail sales increased from 16 per cent to 19 per cent in 2020 – with business-to-business (B2B) sales representing more than 80 per cent of all e-commerce.5 Not only has shopping behaviour changed, the pandemic has also led to a boom in digital products and services.

With the gradual reopening of the economy, many of the activities that had to migrate online can take place again in person. In summer 2020 – as the first wave of the pandemic subsided in Europe and many restrictions were temporarily lifted – the willingness of consumers to order products online or to use digital services declined.6 CFOs across Europe, however, agree that in the post-pandemic business environment, interactions with clients, customers or even prospects will be predominantly digital. Overall, about half the respondents agree with this view against 29 percent who disagree.

There are, however, differences in the extent to which executives in different sectors expect a largely digital future. Perhaps surprisingly given the surge in e-commerce over the past year, 45 per cent of CFOs in retail expect client interactions to be predominantly digital against 39 per cent of CFOs who do not – a difference (net balance) of just 6 percentage points. Only in construction and in tourism and travel is that figure smaller. At the other end of the spectrum, a net balance of 55 per cent of financial executives in TMT expect digital interactions with clients to predominate.

Executives in companies that are already in the Thrive phase are more likely to foresee a future where digital customer interactions prevail, irrespective of the industry in which they operate. A net 26 per cent of them agree with the statement. By contrast, only a net 9 per cent of CFOs whose company is still in the Respond phase do so (figure 3).

The global supply chain is not dead after all
Shocks and disruptions are not a novelty in the supply chains of modern companies, exposed as they are to trade disputes, natural disasters or cyberattacks. But the disruption caused by the pandemic dragged them into the spotlight more than ever before, exposing to the broader public their hidden vulnerabilities. This led to calls for global value chains to shift from a focus on pure efficiency towards consideration of the need for resilience.7 Discussion of geographical diversification in production sites and suppliers has intensified, prompting speculation about a retreat from global supply chains and the rise of more local or regional networks.8

The results of our survey, however, provide only moderate support for the idea that companies are shifting the focus of their supply-chain management towards resilience.

Overall, about one in four CFOs (23 per cent) agree with this view. However, more than a third (36 per cent) soundly reject the idea, and a relative majority (41 per cent) take a neutral stance. And even if the focus of supply management is shifting, that does not mean a post-pandemic world will emerge in which supply chains are shorter and more national. More than half the respondents disagree that compared to pre-pandemic the supply chain of their company will be significantly more domestically based (figure 4). Among CFOs of larger companies the share is even larger, with more than 60 per cent disagreeing. Even among those respondents reporting that the resilience of supply chains is coming more into focus in their company, more than 40 per cent disagree with the idea that supply chains will be more domestic in the post-pandemic environment.

Similarly, more than 40 per cent of CFOs do not expect to ‘nearshore’ more functions in the post-pandemic environment, twice as many as those planning to do so. However, within the group of respondents who are focusing more on the resilience of their supply chains, executives who see a post-pandemic future with more nearshoring do slightly outnumber those who do not.

No revolution, but faster transformation
Altogether, the post-pandemic future financial executives envisage does not look revolutionary. Remote working is going to be more pervasive but still not the prevalent form of work; the real-estate footprint will shrink for about one-third of companies, but not for the majority of them; and relatively few companies seem to have plans to localise or regionalise their supply chains. The only area where there is a clear indication of a major shift relates to the prevalence of digital interactions with clients.

Yet it would be a mistake to underappreciate the extent of the transformation currently taking place in the business environment. In the end, progress is often more evolution than revolution. Thus, even if the majority of employees return to working in offices, companies need to reconsider the role of the workplace, understanding how it adds value and investing in the type of real estate that best supports how work will be conducted in a more hybrid arrangement.9 And even if supply chains remain global and interconnected, the pandemic has highlighted that many organisations are not set up to manage this interconnectivity optimally when adverse events occur.10 Addressing this vulnerability might imply the need for new technologies but also a reassessment of supplier payment terms or of vendors.11

In the end, whether facing a gradual transformation or a sudden shock like the pandemic, organisations need to be able to adapt, endure and rebound – that is, they need to be resilient. In the following, we explore what areas companies in Europe are prioritising to build resilience in their organisations.

The seven elements of a resilient organisation
According to previous Deloitte research, a resilient organisation requires seven key elements: strategy, growth, operations, technology, work, capital and society. These elements, while being strong independently, need to operate within a cohesive, interdependent web that reinforces each of the parts and enhances the organisation’s adaptability.12

We asked the survey participants what elements they see as a priority for their company over the next three to five years. For the majority of executives, “growth” and “technology” represent a top priority (figure 5). However, a few differences emerge across companies at different stages of the pandemic crisis cycle. For example, while 52 per cent of CFOs of companies in the Respond phase and 50 per cent of those in the Recover phase consider resilient operations one of their priority areas, that is the case for only 41 per cent of CFOs of companies in the Thrive phase.

What also emerges is that despite the growing pressure on companies to lead on societal and environmental issues and to hold themselves accountable to a wider range of stakeholders,13 overall only 22 per cent of executives consider “society” a priority element. In general, however, the relevance assigned to this element increases the further the company is along the crisis response cycle. Thus, while 17 per cent of companies in the Respond phase select “society” as one of their top three priorities, this is the case for 24 per cent of CFOs in companies already in the Thrive phase. But even for these companies “society” ranks in the lower half of their priority areas.

The optimisation of working capital and of the capital structure does not rank as a high priority either – and least so for companies in the Thrive phase, where “capital” ranks at the very bottom of their list. Record levels of monetary and fiscal stimulus across the major economies worldwide are ensuring favourable conditions on the financial markets – this may be making the reassessment of capital needs a relatively low priority.

As if to reinforce the message that the post-pandemic reality will represent an evolution to more fluid work environments rather than an abrupt transition to fully remote working practices, the element “work” ranks at the very bottom of the priorities. Less than one in five CFOs consider the transformation of the work, workforce and workplace a priority area in the near future.

No silver bullet, but three post-pandemic principles
Taken together, the results reveal a forward-looking attitude across Europe, with a majority of companies focused on the post-pandemic reality. For now, the most extreme predictions about the consequences of COVID-19 on the business environment do not seem to be materialising. However, the increased use of digital technology during the pandemic appears to be here to stay and will have long-lasting consequences for how business is conducted. Accordingly, the vast majority of companies across Europe consider customer focus, product innovation and market growth, as well as acceleration of their digital transformation, as their top priorities. All C-suite members need to be accountable for building up resilience in these areas as the actions needed and their implications reach across all functions.

What companies have learned from the COVID-19 experience and what they will need to do differently varies according to their size and industry. Even if the pace of the recovery has been faster compared to other crises, the pandemic has affected the way people interact with each other and the way individuals think about their interactions. This is a fundamental change with deep impacts across different sectors.

Although there is no magic recipe that applies to all companies, there are three principles that we would like to highlight. Now more than ever companies need adaptable employees, a culture and structures that ensure a collaborative working style and fast decision-making, and transparent and honest communication with the most important stakeholders. Focusing on these three pillars will help companies strengthen the seven elements of resilience and be ready for the next crisis, in whatever form it comes.


How to Destigmatize Mental Illness in the Workplace

Unsurprisingly, mental health took a significant hit in 2020. There was a 93% increase in individuals seeking anxiety screens. Rates of anxiety and depression were already on the rise and the pandemic only exacerbated those trends. A whopping 40% of American adults reported struggling with mental illness according to the CDC. Treatment for depression alone costs the nation $110 billion.

One could make the argument that there is an epidemic of mental illness in the country.

In light of what could be fairly called a public health crisis, HR professionals need to be ready to identify those at risk and offer them assistance. While it might be obvious that some employees are suffering from mental illness, it’s helpful to make sure that your workplace culture is inclusive of people struggling with mental health disorders before you notice a problem.

Creating an atmosphere in which employees feel comfortable asking for help can help you ensure the safety and wellbeing of your team. Here are some steps you can take to lower the stigma associated with mental illness to help your workforce get the help they need.

Make Yourself Available
“How are you?” can be a powerful question.

Keeping in informal, regular contact with your team can help them open up. An employee might be more likely to tell you if they are struggling if you already have a personable relationship with them. Maintaining regular contact can also help you notice changes in their demeanor that can signal the onset of mental illness.

Be Inclusive Towards Those with Disabilities
Make sure that you send a loud and clear message that employees with disabilities, including those who suffer from mental illness, are still valued at work. It should go without saying that anyone suffering from a disability, be it mental or physical, deserves accommodation. While it is their right under the law, it’s possible that disabled employees do not know that they actually deserve accommodations.

Building an Inclusive Culture through Empathy
Making sure that your employees know that they can ask for reasonable accommodations will help ensure that they perform at their highest level. It can also help you retain top-tier talent.

Honesty at the Top
Leadership can help as well.

When leaders are realistic about the mental health challenges that they’ve experienced, they’re modeling the openness that their team ought to practice. This can help you work with employees to address their struggles with mental illness before they become serious. Moreover, when leaders are open about their own struggles, they send an affirmative message to mentally ill individuals that they can still succeed in spite of their health issues.

Be Aware of How Different Demographics Respond to Mental Illness
Different populations within the U.S. grapple with mental illness in different ways. For instance, members of Gen Z and Millennials are more open to the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and are more open to discussing it at work. Keep in mind that members of different demographics at your workplace will respond differently to mental health challenges.

2021 Mental Health Trends Report
This might affect the way in which you approach your team. Take, for example, the story of RK Mechanical, a Denver-based construction company: after one of their employees killed himself, the HR team promoted the use of mantherapy.org, which could appeal to their predominantly male workforce, which was disproportionately comprised of veterans, who are more likely to suffer from PTSD than the general population.

Make sure that your mental health solutions are tailored to your workforce.

There are many steps you can take to support your employees’ struggles with mental illness. Make sure that you are fostering a workplace inclusive of those with mental health disorders. Doing so can both help ensure the safety and wellbeing of your team and help you retain talent.


The Impact of 2021 on the Talent Marketplace

If you thought 2020 was the year the talent market would experience its most significant disruption, you might want to brace yourself. As it turns out, 2021 is proving to be a year like no other as companies look to get back on track, but struggle to find the talent they need amidst a sea of potential candidates.

Part of that trend is being fueled by what we now have begun referring to as “The Great Resignation”. Whether it’s to pursue new opportunities or take a new course in life, people all over the world have been handing in their notice. Some are leaving for a new job in a market that has become increasingly competitive and allows workers with the right skills the ability to make some demands they may not normally be able to make.

Others are leaving the workforce entirely, whether that’s to pursue their dreams, simply take some time off or focus on their responsibilities as a caregiver.

Finally, many in traditionally low paying industries have made changes, identifying areas of opportunity for themselves, and begin the process of acquiring skills to That talent isn’t necessarily being replaced any time soon and in many cases, it will be tough for employers to entice them back without a substantial revamping of what’s on offer.

Pre-vaccine and the world beginning to reopen, LinkedIn research showed that 74% of workers were essentially “sheltering in the job”, meaning they’d arrived at the conclusion that the smartest thing they could do would be to hang tight and wait until the crisis had passed. Six months later, the crisis continues but the limitations on life do not courtesy of millions of people receiving vaccinations.

PODCAST: Ep. 69 The Great Resignation with Steve Cadigan

While it doesn’t mean you can’t get the virus or its variants, vaccines have proven effective in lessening symptoms and significantly decreasing the need for hospitalization if someone does become sick. Between the vaccinated and those who have had COVID and survived, a substantial portion of the population appears ready to leave lockdowns in the rearview for good and they’re seizing the day when it comes to what they want from work, their home lives, and everything in-between as part of that.

With turnover rates plaguing businesses of all sizes, the smaller fish in the pond tend to lose out to the biggest, those who can offer larger salaries and a name on a resume many candidates associate with success.

Rewind the clock a little more than a year and it seemed talent acquisition teams were on the bench, waiting for the pandemic to subside so they could figure out what comes next. When it came, many struggled to react as talent began moving in every direction.

Overcoming Turnover
The natural inclination of many talented professionals when it comes to combatting turnover is to think about retention and engagement. Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that overall employee tenure was around 4.1 years, a number that has been declining in the wake of the pandemic and the perspective it has provided people.

For younger workers, it’s often talked about how it’s even less, with 2.8 years representing the average tenure. To stem the tide of exits and help set the right tone for relationships with new recruits that hopefully will remain for years to come, HR professionals have five key concepts to set goals around.

Employees want to learn new skills, new concepts and to make themselves future ready. They want to belong to organizations that push their development with intentionality in an effort to make them successful wherever they go. Investing in your people is likely to help you keep them around and in the process take the edge of that turnover rate. Technology can help identify their skills, areas of opportunity and potential paths forward, but ultimately it’s a conversation between humans that will help drive the best results.

Career Path
What are they developing for? There are a variety of roads forward for any employee, but helping them identify one they want to pursue, creating clear steps for progression and a training program to get them there makes people feel valued and provides a deeper sense of purpose. Career mapping is an evolving art as data science and artificial intelligence play a greater role, but in some ways, simply showing the intention of investing in the employee can go a long way.


How To Create A 100% Virtual On boarding Experience

A problem arises when a company decides to hire someone new, while still relying on the in-person onboarding exercises that they’ve utilized for so long. It’s impossible to onboard a new hire virtually using an in-person methodology.

As a result, companies will need to develop new onboarding practices that cater specifically to remote workers. Sixteen experts from Forbes Human Resources Council offer their insight to how employers can establish practical onboarding experiences for virtual employees, and explain how this would make things proceed more smoothly.

1. Focus On Cultural Immersion

A key component of an effective onboarding experience is cultural immersion. Similarly to visiting a new country, employees need to experience the company culture in a variety of ways. This includes virtual lunches, video meet-and-greets, invites to key meetings with a debrief immediately after, virtual office tours and more. One by one, these experiences can drive engagement and retention. – Takiyah Gross-Foote, LexisNexis Risk Solutions and Reed Business Information (both RELX Group companies)

2. Ensure Clarity And Consistency

Communication is key for virtual onboarding. Usually overlooked as the key solution, there is a need for clarity and consistency across designated platforms. We use Workplaces as our virtual workplace. New employees are interviewed on our “Meet the Ph’amily” program. We use an iPhone to record, which allows the interview to be easily posted. Team members globally get to know a new team member. – Cher Murphy, Ph.Creative

3. Leverage Well-Being Platform And Programs

Employers can create a positive virtual onboarding experience by introducing new employees to their digital well-being platform and programs as part of the process. Well-being platforms are great communication tools — they help employers reinforce company culture, promote benefits and launch healthy challenges to encourage social connection and team building, even as employees work virtually. – David Osborne, Virgin Pulse

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

4. Use Short Instructional Videos

By shifting traditional onboarding content to short instructional videos, you allow new employees to engage at their own pace. Couple this approach with pre-scheduled appointments where new hires and their dependents can meet with HR and Payroll to have their questions answered for a high-touch virtual onboarding model. – Cassandra Rose, Sprinklr

5. Create A Sense Of Belonging

Examine the standout experiences and key cultural attributes an employee would typically encounter in their first 90 days and bring them to life in a variety of ways using online videos, collaboration and communication tools, home deliveries, and even good old snail mail. A sense of belonging through these outreach efforts can really accelerate the integration of new hires into the business. – Jennifer Bouyoukos, Entertainment One

6. Spread Onboarding Across Several Days

Instead of having one day of onboarding, consider spreading activities across several days or even a week. This will create a natural structure for the new hire while they become familiar with your company. Stretching out onboarding activities does not mean it has to be more time-intensive. Messages from company leaders can be pre-recorded and scheduled throughout the week. – Curtis Grajeda, LevelUP Human Capital Solutions

7. Set Up Casual Virtual Meet-And-Greets

Remove the formality of the onboarding process and set up casual virtual meet-and-greets to immediately welcome employees. Immerse them through access to onboarding tech and corporate intranets before they walk in the door. Above all else, regular communication with them throughout the process is a must. The less connected new employees are from colleagues and leaders, the less engaged they’ll be. – Susan Tohyama, Ceridian

8. Have Virtual Coffee Chats With New Hires

I love the idea of implementing virtual coffee chats with new hires throughout their time with the organization. This can be done with each cohort to check in on how things are going and provide employees with a chance to network and stay connected to an inclusive group that started at the company around the same time. – Lotus Buckner, NCH

9. Launch A Virtual Buddy Program

Match new hires with seasoned employees who can answer questions and provide advice. Because it’s virtual, you can make matches based on interests rather than just put two people together because they’re in the same office. Encourage communication by video so new hires get to see a friendly face. And screen sharing can help mentors talk through new processes. – Kim Pope, WilsonHCG

10. Prioritize The Human Connection

Going digital does not mean the onboarding process must lose the human connection. Mail welcome cards signed by the team, employment forms, benefit brochures or physical documents that are normally distributed on the first day to the new hire’s home address. This is a way to maintain physical and human connection in the absence of handshakes and on-site welcome sessions. – Jessica Delorenzo, Kimball Electronics Inc

11. Have A Personalized Multichannel Approach

An exceptional virtual onboarding experience should include a planned, personalized, seamless and fun multichannel approach — text, video, surveys, chatbots, email and phone are all an essential part of the mix. Keeping the human touch, assigning a team “buddy” to amplify the micromoments and sustaining a continuously engaged mindset sets everyone up for success no matter what comes next! – Jay Polaki, HR Geckos

12. Use A Video Platform With Breakout Rooms

For the best virtual onboarding experience, it is helpful to use a cloud-based video and web conferencing platform that allows for individual breakout rooms. New hires especially can be reticent to speak up in a large group of people they do not yet know. Setting up small breakout groups, with a facilitator, allows everyone to feel more comfortable and to start engaging. – Sherrie Suski, Tricon American Homes

13. Leverage Mobile Technology

Employers can leverage mobile technology to ensure a smooth and hassle-free onboarding experience for new hires. Launching an onboarding app is a step in the right direction as it helps reduce cumbersome, back-and-forth paperwork, as well as numerous phone calls from recruiters. Integrating text or SMS functionality with the onboarding app would further expedite the hiring process. – Nish Parikh, Rangam Consultants Inc.

14. Create First-Day Game Boards

Stress causes anxiety, but a bit of fun can channel adrenaline as a positive moment. Uncertainty and lack of control are big factors for a new hire, so we created a first-day game board. It maps the day, how to get help, meet people and set up for success. The intimidation is now positively channeled into an adrenaline-filled game. They control their destiny and are able to contribute quickly. – Ashira Gobrin, Wave Financial

15. Invest In On-Demand Feedback Solutions

Onboarding, traditionally a face-to-face opportunity to learn about a company’s culture and build a network, has a new set of challenges. Take this opportunity to invest in on-demand feedback solutions so that trainers can pivot quickly and continue to engage and build a community for your new hires. It’s a worthwhile investment and fosters a culture of feedback post orientation. – Yvette Kennedy, Explorance

16. Convert Traditional Training To Shorter Bursts

Convert traditional onboarding classroom training to shorter bursts where course material is “flipped” so learning is more engaging. Going virtual raises the bar on content, which needs to be visual, interactive, on brand and available for reference during/after class via simple search. Make sure employees have easy access to the training they’ve completed so they can refresh and apply things they learned. – Jeff Carr, Inkling