Why Do They Leave? Better Yet: Why Do They Stay?

With 40% of the global workforce considering quitting soon and replacement cost at 1/3 of a newbie’s
salary, CHRO’s need to focus on retention. With 80% of the world’s workers either disengaged or not
engaged, costing USD 7.8 trillion in lost productivity worldwide (Gallup), CHRO’s need to focus on
engagement and productivity.
OK, is there anything CHRO’s don’t need to focus on?
Better yet: what are you supposed to do?
Since increasing retention and engagement even slightly will have a big impact on company profits and
people’s work-lives, perhaps it’s time to try Design Thinking (DT). After all, HR departments rated as
“high-performing” are five times as likely to design-think as their peers, and research shows that design-
oriented companies grow better, return more to shareholders, and financially outperform their peers.
When observing and engaging with employees (yes! outside your office and in theirs!), you may discover
top reasons other researchers have – problems with supervisors, pay, respect, belonging, and flexibility
– or something new.
What you won’t get from research reports is what to do. DT offers tools and techniques for creatively
envisioning a better future, designing it, prototyping, and experimenting (for reduced cost and risk).
You may discover big opportunities, like crafting a MetaOffice, or little things like a 100-coffees program
for belonging and growth. It might be technological, like using facial-recognition to track wellbeing, or
non-tech, like how to brainstorm better.
Whether you hire a corporate anthropologist or make your own ethnography plan, personas, journey
maps, and designs, isn’t it time to …
Diagnose, Dream, and Do?

To learn more about Design Thinking, see The Design Thinking Workbook: Essential Skills for Creativity
and Business Growth, available on Amazon, and free, multimedia Design Thinking Intro, available on
Gnowbe via drcjmeadows.com/design-thinking.

The new work–life balance

In the 20th century, work–life balance became more of an aspirational lifestyle goal. For anyone who has ever juggled a busy job and raising kids (not to mention taking care of a house), the notion of work–life balance always seemed like a distant dream: a stress-free mix of rewarding work and plenty of quality time for the family, exercise, and sleep. But that’s not how life works, and, in some ways, this idealized sense of balance created a mirage that only served to frustrate people who tried to attain it.

The pandemic seemed to render work–life balance a laughable concept. As white-collar workers set up workstations at home, there was no longer a separation of job and personal time or space. So we need something new, something more useful, to help us think about balance in our lives.

Here’s an alternative model. It starts with the idea that every moment falls into one of three categories: want, should, or need. It seems to me that every decision we make starts, implicitly or explicitly, with a sentence that begins “I want to…,” “I should…,” or “I need to….” (The last one includes its close cousin, “I have to….”) If you accept these buckets, you can then start creating a pie chart of your life based on this categorization.

How much of your typical day, week, or month falls into each of those three categories? How much of your job is spent doing the things you want to do—ideally creating that state of flow in which your skills and talents are well-matched to the task at hand—versus the things you just muscle through because you should do them or need to do them.

There is no right mix, per se, and each individual’s outlook will change over time. When we are in our 20s, we can indulge in more of what we want to do. The same is true later in life, when personal interests can be prioritized. It’s those decades of our 30s, 40s, and 50s that can be particularly challenging—raising a family and building a career, which will include jobs that are stepping stones to more fulfilling roles. These chapters of life gave rise to the widely cited U-shaped happiness curve.

To me, that three-part pie chart is useful in determining whether we feel a sense of balance in our lives. And it also helps explain some of the meta-narratives of the moment, including the “great resignation” and the persistent desire of employees to work from home. All that time alone during pandemic lockdowns gave people time to consider the meaning of life and prompted many to quit unrewarding jobs. They decided to prioritize more of what they want, and commuting strikes many as more of a “should” than a “want.” And companies are making more of an effort to listen to their employees, too, conducting frequent pulse surveys. At the moment, employers are bending over backward to give employees what they want to help with recruitment and retention.

We need a framework for assessing our relationship with work that is more practical and realistic in this post-pandemic world than a scale with work on one side and life on the other.

The pendulum may be swinging back. As talk of recession heats up and companies come under pressure, CEOs are starting to sound like they want to revisit the want–should–need equation and remind people that work is called work for a reason.

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google’s parent company, wrote a memo to employees in July, stating that “moving forward, we need to be more entrepreneurial, working with greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days.” This may not change the pie chart for some—often people want to show more initiative at work and feel thwarted. But it does signal a shifting mood at Google.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, Facebook’s parent, told employees in late June that, in light of the challenges the company was facing, they would have to do more with fewer resources, and that low performers were not going to be tolerated. “I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me,” Mr. Zuckerberg said on the call. “Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.”

The not-so-hidden message: work is about what you should do and what you need to do. The bosses are back in charge, and they’re less interested in what you want to do or whether you are feeling a sense of purpose in the work that the company is paying you to do.

We need a framework for assessing our relationship with work that is more practical and realistic in this post-pandemic world than a scale with work on one side and life on the other. In every job, there is always a mix of things that you like doing and things that you don’t like doing. Same with your personal life. What matters is how much of your time is spent doing things you want to do, should do, and need to do. That pie chart—however you fill it out—will provide a more accurate picture of the balance you need in order to feel a sense of happiness, contentment, satisfaction, and accomplishment.


Why Quiet Quitting Is A Really Bad (Dumb) Idea

I’ve been astounded at the flurry of articles about Quiet Quitting. It seems like the press has jumped on some kind of meme that really serves us poorly.

Before I jump down anyone’s throat, let me explain what I mean.

First of all, we all understand that employees are often burned out. Mercer’s data shows that 81% of employees have “had it” to some degree, and in any given team it can often be overwhelming. We are living in one of the hottest economies of all time (unemployment is near 1960-level lows), so people are asked to do a lot.

Second, the problem of “overwork” or “burnout” is both a company, manager, and individual issue. Each of these stakeholders plays a role.

If the company’s goals are unrealistically high, there will be burnout all over the place. I interviewed a team of top leaders at IBM a few months ago and their particular business was growing at over 60% per year. Rather than feeling excited and celebrating, they were all burned out. Why? The goals were constantly being raised, and I encouraged the senior leaders to push back.

If a manager is new, immature, or overly aggressive, the team will suffer too. In healthcare, where nurses make up more than half the workforce, we hear stories of overload, toxic work environment, and all sorts of bad behavior all the time. You, as an employee or leader, have to coach and give feedback to these managers. If they don’t get it, no amount of “quiet quitting” will make life easier. (Managers are human too, and they’re likely as burned out as you are.)

For you as an individual, it’s important to manage your own life well. As someone who works a lot of hours (but I do love my work), I know how burnout can creep up on you. You get tired, cranky, and your quality of work suffers. This is why “slack time” is built into our Employee Experience model. Everyone needs quiet time during the day to rest, think, and reinvent.

Should You Quietly Quit?

While many of the articles and memes are cute, I agree with Arianna Huffington, this is a very bad idea. The original Tik Tok Video seemed harmless at first, but then NYT, Fortune, HuffPost, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, and LA Times all chimed in, making it seem like a big “trend.”

Yes, as the LA Times article was the most interesting because it points out that “hustling” is not for everyone. And we, as leaders and HR managers understand that. (I highly recommend you watch Office Space, one the best movies I’ve ever seen, if you really want to see what “quiet quitting” is all about.)

But let me give you another perspective.

While many people work for survival, the real value of work is to fulfill your values as an individual. Every job, no matter how boring or mundane, has opportunities for you to thrive. When you lean into your job, and give it extra effort, you find unexpected value as a result.

In my 45+ year career, for example, I’ve had at least 10 years of “crummy bosses” or “poorly run companies” to deal with. In every case I had to drag myself into work in the morning, deal with frustrating, boring, or difficult situations, and then decide if I wanted to stay.

At one point in my life, my kids were both young and on soccer teams, so I used to leave work at 4:30 and rush home to be their coach. I didn’t “stop working” in the office, but I did rebalance my time to spend time on their activities. Later, as they went off to high school and didn’t want as much attention, I focused more attention at work, eventually becoming an entrepreneur.

At every point in your career you have the opportunity to learn, grow, and change. It’s ok to put limits on your work, but don’t do it “quietly.” If you tell your boss that you just can’t work these hours and he or she gets upset, maybe it’s just time to leave. There really aren’t a shortage of jobs right now, and as difficult as it is to leave, it always results in something better.

If you’re just personally fed up, either tell someone or do something about it. We as employees have much more power than you think. If you are the “positive one” on the team, you may find yourself getting promoted just because you have a better attitude.

Finally, if you’re a Millennial, Gen-X, or Gen-Z worker, please don’t feel that you’re alone. We all went through this in our careers, and only by “motoring through the rough periods” did we grow and thrive later in life. And believe me, when you lean in more, you get more in return.


Impact of cultural transformation on change programmes

There needs to be more proactivity in fostering more modern, progressive organisational cultures, but teams should develop their own programmes of change that are directly associated with the organisational values and purpose. For example, a Product Management focused delivery framework that uses agile techniques will deliver iterative change against customer value steams.

Whilst organisational cultural change is being more actively embedded, business transformation programmes are expected to speed up and deliver more. For example, Lloyd’s Bank has claimed that the UK made five years of progress in digital engagement in 2020, but most organisations don’t have the tools and technology to meet those needs, so change programmes need to be implemented even quicker in order to meet both consumer and commercial needs, otherwise they risk falling behind and being overtaken by new market entrants.

So, what do teams need to do? All teams need the time to:

Understand and adapt to organisational values to ensure any cultural shifts contribute to progressing the organisation (which often aligns with improving delivery of change outcomes anyway).
Understand and adapt to changes of delivery methods and structure, whilst still meeting change programmes expected timescales and most importantly outcomes (which is more difficult, as while time is the priority it doesn’t enable employees to effectively react to changing behavioural considerations).
But how? Here are seven key tips:

Take best practice methods/models as a reference point but adapt them to your business.
Ensure your teams are mixed ability: combining experienced teams with those who are less experienced will demonstrate what great looks like.
Onboard a third-party organisation where required, as they can help to play an objective part in embedding change, by coaching teams to understand how they can change for the better.
Give people time to learn and reflect on successes and make improvements as required.
Create a culture for feedback and make sure that there is active participation from senior management to allow a feedback loop for continuous improvements.
Accept that it will take time, but it’s worth it. By embedding all of this, benefits may be delayed but it creates a long-term foundation for more sustainable changes.
Communicate with humility and vulnerability: support curiosity, a willingness to participate, and a more engaged organisation that will advocate for change and progression. As a result, you will be able to attract and recruit the better candidates in an already touch recruitment market.
Companies that are proactive and progressive will yield the most results. The world we live in is constantly changing and shifting the world of work can be relatively simple, if these steps are followed.


Who blinks first? The battle to get staff back in the office full-time?

The last two and a half years have fired the synapses of our business leaders in ways they could never have predicted.

Every business has had to overcome hurdles – with each obstacle coming at them harder and faster, while the finish line remains perilously out of sight.

From the pandemic and the associated physical and mental health of staff as well as the legality and practicality of working protocols, firms have landed straight into a crippling hiring crisis with a yawning talent gap.

We now find ourselves wading into a cost of living nightmare that will stretch employers’ duty of care again – and all this before we’ve considered the nuts and bolts of running a business – the profits, losses and five year plans.

From our recent client conversations, it is the latter that is fuelling an increasing desire to get teams back to something resembling full time office working.

They’re not alone. The outgoing prime minister has done his best to reverse the homeworking trend catalysed by the pandemic’s measures, going as far as referring to those office-working Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays by an impolite acronym – even chiding that young people will fall in love with offices again because “Mother Nature does not like working from home”.

Global business leaders are coming down hard on home-working. It has been reported that Elon Musk is demanding his workers return to the office with leaked memos laying bare his methods to force his employees at SpaceX and Tesla back towards a standard working week, reportedly telling workers that they were required to “spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week. Those who did not do so would be fired” and “The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence”.

The view of our more boutique clients is that smaller businesses struggle more with the concept of remote working, given the delicate balance of limited resource versus productivity – and that teams are too small to be able to harness full capacity when people are not working together.

Client recruitment language has subtly changed tone too. Terms and language being used includes “the hybrid situation at present” and the intent is clear: increased representation in the office will be required over the longer term.

Yet pressures exist. These clients are competing for a dwindling candidate pool, with salaries in certain areas rocketing as a result. It’s causing a classic Catch-22.

For instance, within financial services, it is those with technological backgrounds, such as coders, cyber security experts and data analysts that are among the most prized. Offering flexible working can help smaller firms overcome being financially muscled out of new hires, or having existing staff poached for higher salaries, further compounding staff shortages.

Candidates are often not inclined to entertain full time office returns, put off by soaring fuel and unreliable public transport while safe in the knowledge that they hold the cards in the current candidate-driven market.

A recent Harvard Business School survey revealed that 81% either don’t want to come back at all or would prefer a hybrid model of work. Of those, 27% hope to remain working remotely full time, while 61% would prefer to work from home two to three days a week. Only 18% want to return to in-person work full time.

There is therefore a clear mismatch with executive team expectations.

It is now a case of which client blinks first in mandating full time office returns –will they trigger a movement or be left as an outlier?

The challenge of getting staff back into the office on a more full time basis should be no different than managing any other kind of organisational change that has professional and personal implications considered.

As anyone who runs a business or team can tell you, any type of change engenders resistance in some format at one end of the scale to buoyant enthusiasm at the other, and all the variations in between.

Business are scrambling to design appropriate and fair policies, remote working frameworks and part time working schedules for those that wish to work in a hybrid manner – walking a fine line between trying to get their teams on board, via engagement and collaboration days, while desperately trying not to lose engagement with full time office based staff members.

It’s a fine balance, but how this next hurdle is navigated will almost certainly determine their long-term viability and place in the market.


Healthier, wealthier, and wiser?

The period historians like to call the “long 20th century,” which began around 1870 and ended around 2010, was the most remarkable period in global economic history. The pace of growth jumped from an average of 0.45% a year prior to 1870 to 2.1% a year after, according to University of California, Berkeley economics professor J. Bradford DeLong. Even accounting for a growing population, the average person was still almost nine times richer in 2010 than they were in 1870. “Suppose we could go back in time to 1870, and tell people then how rich, relative to them, humanity would become by 2010,” DeLong writes in his new book, Slouching Towards Utopia. “How would they have reacted?” Surely, with so many more resources at hand, humanity would achieve “freedom from pressing economic cares” and “live wisely and agreeably and well,” as the British economist John Maynard Keynes prophesied in 1930.

That clearly did not come to pass. Although the number of people in extreme poverty continues to fall, we have also endured two major recessions in the past 15 years, the planet’s natural resources are being depleted at an unsustainable rate, and our wealth is shared out less equitably than ever. We have never been so materially rich, but voters in most major countries think things are heading in the wrong direction. In Slouching Towards Utopia, one of the most ambitious and admirable economic-history books of the year, DeLong explains why the supercharged growth of the 20th century failed to deliver us to a state of comfort and satisfaction.

Even accounting for a growing population, the average person was still almost nine times richer in 2010 than they were in 1870.

To do this, he leans on the work of two intellectuals born in Vienna in the 19th century: the economist Friedrich August von Hayek and the philosopher Karl Polanyi. Broadly speaking, Hayek favored leaving control of the economy to the market and believed that government meddling would lead to inefficiency and chaos. Polanyi thought that markets needed regulating to protect the economic rights of people and the stability that comes from guaranteed income and access to goods and services. DeLong cites two periods within the long 20th century when growth was particularly rapid—1870 to 1914 and 1945 to 1975—and argues that it was during those periods that societies were best able to balance Hayek and Polanyi’s competing visions. It was the derailment of that equilibrium at the close of those eras, each of which lasted only a single generation, that gives us the most important insights into why material wealth has not brought an end to conflict and unhappiness.

The first era, encompassing the Gilded Age, was curtailed both by the First World War—which DeLong considers an entirely avoidable event driven not by national economic self-interest but by European aristocrats’ refusal to accept an “erosion of their influence and status”—and by the ensuing lurch toward Polanyian rights. In the 1920s, battle-scarred populations wanted greater protections, and governments responded by introducing old-age pensions, public housing, and public health insurance. This surge in state spending in economies whose capacities had been shrunk by the war resulted in sky-high inflation and then, as the US turned inward, a depression.

The story of the second period of rapid growth is the most riveting section of the book. After the Second World War, the global economy settled into what the French call Les Trente Glorieuses, the Thirty Glorious Years, in which social democratic governments again tilted toward Polanyi. But this time, instead of becoming more insular, the US embraced the opportunity to become the global hegemon. Through the Marshall Plan, it funded redevelopment in Europe, while the start of the Cold War ushered in huge increases in US defense spending that “made a return of anything like the Great Depression all but impossible.” Faster growth swelled tax revenues, which enabled governments to meet the demands from both the middle and working classes for social insurance and full employment. The biggest players in the global economy were still unmistakably capitalist machines, but good economic times permitted more protections for workers than ever before. “Things had worked,” DeLong says approvingly.

What, then, triggered the downfall of our fastest-ever march toward utopia? DeLong attributes it to our short memories. After three decades of reliably fast growth and rising living standards, we mistook this for a permanent way of being. When the oil-induced inflationary spikes of the 1970s struck, we overreacted and threw out the entire political economy. DeLong also surmises that, by the mid-1970s, the fading memory of the misery of the Depression had weakened the bonds between social classes. Some believed that the safety net had become sufficiently robust to permit “moochers” to live off the generosity of the rest. Tolerance of Polanyian rights weakened rapidly as governments turned toward neoliberalism and its full-throated commitment to Hayek’s market philosophy. Global growth has never been that strong since.

This narrative thread—of there being two periods of exceptional economic growth that transformed the living standards of millions but which were sabotaged by human nature—is the book’s strongest. But to dwell on it alone is to ignore vast and worthy swaths of the rest of the book, which includes an extensive study of why the Global South was repeatedly hobbled in its attempts to grow as quickly as the North; an excoriation of Soviet-era communism (or “really-existing socialism,” as DeLong insists on calling it); and a downbeat assessment of the Obama administration’s response to the global financial crisis, which DeLong deems too timid. The book is a huge study, but one that rarely feels like it is slipping away from its author.

For an academic, DeLong is an animated and voluble narrator who sees nothing wrong with questioning his own assumptions. “Right here I have a narrative problem,” he admits when he first attempts to describe the economic divergence of the Global North and South. His writing reminds me of the ambitious scope of the British filmmaker Adam Curtis, who makes long documentaries with titles such as HyperNormalisation and Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World, laying down his own narration over collages of archival footage. The sheer number of clips Curtis stitches together means watching his films is often a disorientating experience, and his voice feels like a helping hand through the chaos. It is only afterward that you begin to question some of his assumptions. Following DeLong on his journey through the long 20th century can be similarly dizzying, but in contrast to Curtis, DeLong is a guide whose conclusions I cannot fault.


Knowing what is (and isn’t) coaching matters

According to performance coach and author of Effective Coaching, Myles Downey, ‘Coaching is the art of facilitating the learning, development and performance of another’.

Coaching has so often been used in a remedial way, as part of a strategy to ‘fix’ a business problem. But for me, coaching is so much more than this. It’s about performance and opportunity. The aim of coaching in a business environment is to empower people to find solutions to the challenges they face and in doing so, improve their performance and ability to lead. It is a tool for building resilience and getting the best out of people. The outcome is that people work more confidently, more productively, they make good decisions, they ultimately perform better.

We call this ‘coaching for a better tomorrow’.

Being coached is not a passive exercise
An effective coaching strategy develops those who coach and those who are being coached (the coachee). The coachee in the relationship doesn’t simply ‘receive’ coaching. They play an active role in the process, and they need to be fully invested. We shift the power to the coachee so they become willing and able to make their own decisions, to become accountable and responsible for solving their own challenges.

Coaching is a tool for structuring conversations – helping the coachee to understand their goals, raise awareness of the wider issues, generate responsibility, focus their attention on finding solutions and gain their commitment to act on this.

Active listening
Coaching is as much about listening as it is about talking – you need to be present. Listening should go beyond simply hearing, it’s an active not a passive practice. A coach must listen intently, giving the coachee their full attention.

Embracing the silence within a coaching moment is often when real clarity comes to the surface. The skill of the coach is recognising their coachee’s body language and ‘thinking face’ and knowing when (and when not) to move the conversation on.

Uncomfortable truths
Chemistry between coach and coachee is crucial – there needs to be a ‘good dance’. In order for someone to disclose and vocalise what’s on their mind, they need to have trust in their coach. But we need to acknowledge that this isn’t just about empathy. It is important to build rapport, but an effective coach needs to be useful not helpful. People are so often used to being directed in the workplace, being told what to do. Coaching should change this dynamic.

It can sometimes feel challenging or even uncomfortable to be coached. The coach’s role is to ask questions which will uncover the very heart of an issue. This can be something that the coachee may not have fully acknowledged before, even to themselves. By challenging the status quo, the coach provides a framework to see the situation through a different lens, take a new perspective. The coachee becomes unstuck. In doing so, they can begin to formulate options for what to do next.

Directive or non-directive
Another misconception about coaching is that the coach is there to give advice, to tell the coachee what to do. We call this being directive. My view is that a coach should prioritise being non-directive – listening actively, using models of questioning to ignite thinking in the coachee. Asking questions which help them to discover the challenge that sits at the heart of their woes or frustration and see it in a new light. They can then begin to find their own way. This is how we build resilience.

That’s not to say a coach shouldn’t offer any advice. A shared experience or a practical tip can be hugely valuable. But ultimately, accountability must fall with the coachee.

Coaching in practice
In our clients’ businesses, in sectors from retail and utilities to manufacturing and financial services, we are seeing first-hand how an understanding and effective application of coaching is empowering leaders and driving performance. By democratising coaching in the workplace – giving everyone the skills to coach and be coached – I believe we can do better business, and truly unlock the potential of people.


Adapting for multi-generational teams

A demographic revolution is taking place across British workforces. It’s becoming common for multi-generations of employees to be working together with people in their 20s and 30s through to those in their 60, 70s and even 80s, which is creating new management challenges.

By 2025, one million more people 50 and over and 300,000 fewer people 30 and under will be in the workplace. Today, 19% of the population is aged 65 and over. In ten years, this will have increased to 22%.

With fewer young people entering the workforce in the next couple of decades – retaining them in an increasingly competitive market will be vital. At the same time, keeping the over 50s in the workplace so not to lose vital skills and experience is a priority.

Anticipating the potential for discord and proactively working out what each employee needs and treating them as individuals is a must

Few businesses are ready for these demographic changes. The Centre for Ageing Better found that only one in five employers are discussing the ageing workforce strategically.
But employers will need to face up to the challengers sooner rather than later. Especially given multigenerational, inclusive workforces are the future, according to 83% of global executives surveyed by AARP – and seen as the key to growth and long-term success.

Different generations are likely to have different skills, assets and attitudes towards work and how companies manage these differences will be critical. It will affect the training employers give, the benefits they offer, the hours they work and the way they should work together, so companies will have to adapt to accommodate everyone and find new ways to create effective multi-generational teams.

Understanding your people
To successfully manage an age-diverse workforce, employers need to acknowledge how the mindsets and life experiences of different generations affect how they approach their work and working together.

The rift between the post-1980 digital generations compared with the preceding analogue ones is something that can’t be underestimated. The under 45-year-old ‘digital workers’ will have very different attitudes and mind-sets to the over 45s ‘analogue workers’. For example, an analogue man in his fifties will be very different from a female digital employee in their 30s. Both may be hugely talented, with all the skills the business needs, but when it comes to how they approach work, they are likely to be chalk and cheese.

The analogue probably comes to work dressed smartly, gets in on time, likes his own desk and carries himself as someone who has been around the block more than once. However, he has kept pace with change and has a set of skills and understanding about his area the business values. The digital on the other hand is a classic Millennial. She may not work nine to five; however, she’s still emailing the CEO with ideas at eleven o’clock at night. She’s happiest not at her desk but slouched on a sofa in a breakout zone with her laptop and headphones on. She wants the business to have a mission. She thrives on teamwork and collaboration and craves feedback. She flouts the management structure and is always asking her manager to give her direction and talk about next steps.

A manager may think the two have complimentary skills and decide to put them together to work on a project, expecting it all to go well but instead, the opposite happens. They both end up complaining they can’t work with the other. This is a classic example of different generations coming to loggerheads because they have clashing attitudes and outlooks. Neither is going to change that much, so the manager will have to find workarounds to make it possible for them to collaborate.

Anticipating the potential for discord and proactively working out what each employee needs and treating them as individuals is a must. Here are some practical ways that businesses can manage an intergenerational workforce.

Age diversity is a positive
Having a mixed-age workforce makes for a more successful business and employers must work towards creating an age-diverse culture that embraces this. They need to help employees understand there are enormous benefits to working in a multi-generational environment, even though people may work in different ways. To make this happen, employers need to build in working practices that accommodate people’s different behaviours and values.

Life’s not just about work
From the employee’s perspective, these days it’s all about work-life balance, for younger cohorts especially, but also for older workers whom businesses hope to retain. There’s plenty that companies can do to make their organisation attractive for a generation of people who work to live rather than live to work. Companies need to be mindful that it’s not just about the salary and ensure their employee value proposition matches expectations.

Be flexible
People of all ages want (and often need) to accommodate other pressures and activities in their lives. Offering greater flexibility around the working week is one area that organisations can start to create a level playing field across the generations. They could look at offering part-time working, flexi hours or hybrid working. The pandemic after all proved this could work. Offering sabbaticals for long serving workers is also another option

There’s no ‘one size fits all’
Businesses must recognise everyone is an individual, with different personal needs and aspirations. Understanding intergenerational differences is vital in ensuring they are offering the right employee benefits for their workforce. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to employee benefits is no longer appropriate and companies must know which benefits will appeal to whom and tailor their packages accordingly. Employers should ask themselves what they want their future workplace demographic to look like and build a rewards and benefits package that will work for them.

Don’t assume
To recruit the best people employers mustn’t make assumptions about who can bring something special to the business. Age should never be a barrier – at either end of the spectrum – and neither should work gaps or experience in different spheres.

Keep communicating with employees
To create a cohesive multi-generational workforce, let employees know what the business is thinking and listen to what they want to say. This is best achieved by using different communication channels and adapting messages to suit the different age groups.

Give employees the opportunities to learn
Give employees the chance to constantly learn, grow and develop new skills. It’s likely that some jobs in the future may become obsolete, but businesses will want to retain loyal and talented staff.

To conclude
Intergenerational teams bring both challenges and opportunities. Businesses must work out how to best enable people of all ages to complement each other’s skills and assets, whilst ironing out generational differences in attitudes, priorities and approaches to work. Those that do will gain a serious competitive edge, not only in recruiting and retaining talented people but also in meeting the needs of their clients and customers.


Four Reasons Why Remote PC Management is Critical for Hybrid Work Era

As the world embraces the hybrid working model, we have seen a significant shift in employees’ computing requirements. Hybrid workers expect a high level of performance from devices, no matter where they are – fast, fluid and without diminished security. And with devices on the go, employees want highly responsive laptops that can get them online quicker so they can stay productive, easily collaborate and chat with co-workers and tackle their to-do list more effectively. However, businesses are not refreshing their PCs and laptops as quickly as they should. According to a study by SMB IT market research firm Techaisle, at least 40 percent of SMBs have either no PC refresh policy or are not following the system. As a result, 32% of Windows 10 PCs owned by SMBs are more than four years old. Outdated PC devices and aging machines lead to frequent downtimes, impact work efficiencies, and hurt employee experience. Forrester Research, Invest in Employee Experience, Drive Your Bottom Line Growth, commissioned by Intel, reveals that 50% of employees report that their PC device is outdated or insufficient.

According to Techaisle, PCs that are more than four years old also reduce IT efficiency and productivity, resulting in 70 hours of productive time lost per year per PC. These PCs on average experience 3X more malware attacks and 3.5x more phishing attacks than more modern Windows 10 PCs. And wait, there’s more. According to StatCounter, 13.06% of all current Windows PCs are running Windows 7, which hasn’t been supported since January 2020. Although 71.76% are using Windows 10, and a further 10.07% have Windows 11 installed, that still leaves many people who have not upgraded to the latest operating system. PC fleets running on old operating systems (OS) mean more bug fixes, security patches and costly device replacements.

For IT personnel, it means bearing an even greater burden. Even if one at-risk device is affected by malware, it can bring down the entire network. See More: Why the Future of Work Depends on PC Fleet Stability and Predictability Security in Focus The past two years have been anything but normal for information security professionals. With cyberattacks on the rise, security pros across every industry are acutely aware of the risks posed by cybercriminals and how hackers are shutting down vital infrastructure and exploiting vulnerabilities in software. But increasingly, organizations are experiencing rapidly changing threats that directly target identities, access control and data below the OS. Attacks on the BIOS firmware have become too frequent and can give hackers control over the system, allowing hackers to install keylogging software and steal sensitive data. A 2021 Security Signals report showed that over 80% of enterprises had experienced at least one firmware attack in the past two years. Despite this sobering statistic, only 29% of security budgets are allocated to protect firmware.

This evolving reality affords IT managers and decision-makers a great opportunity to build a PC upgrade strategy that meets the shifting technology needs of hybrid workers and empowers IT with hardware-based security they can count on. The good news is that there is a straightforward solution to this problem. Learn why organizations should adopt a next-generation PC platform to uplevel PC fleet manageability, security and overcome key IT hurdles: 1. Troubleshooting out of band devices remotely It has become quite commonplace for IT to get a call from an end-user whose device has become corrupted due to malware downloads. By deploying PCs with Intel vPro® Enterprise for Windows, powered by 12th Gen Intel® Core™ processors, companies can utilize technologies and services within the Intel vPro platform, such as Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT).

Intel AMT is powered by a separate hardware engine on Intel chipsets, which means that Intel AMT can operate independently of the main CPU and independently of the operating system state. Intel AMT is always available and always accessible. Intel AMT needs to be activated and is only available with Intel vPro® Enterprise for Windows. In effect, Intel AMT provides persistent out-of-band connectivity that operates independently of the OS, allowing fixes to a broader range of system issues, even when the OS is down. With Intel AMT, IT can repair corrupted drivers, application software, or the OS on non-responsive systems or use KVM to monitor OS upgrades. 2. Improve efficiency and reliability of IT support Today, IT struggles to maintain dispersed device fleets and deliver remote support to end-users. An unresponsive laptop that users can’t power on or boot up results in end-user downtime. Either the user must ship the failing laptop back to the office, or wait for IT support to fix the device.

In such cases, IT needs hardware-level access and control features, known as out-of-band management, to troubleshoot devices. This allows IT teams to perform tasks such as PC setup and configuration, maintenance, and security updates. They can also deal with PCs that are powered off or unresponsive. In hybrid work models, next-generation business PC platforms enable IT teams to remotely and securely access out-of-band devices and fix corrupted or failed drivers and application software.

This greatly speeds up device repair and maintenance, helping employees to be productive again. The Total Economic Impact Of The Intel® vPro™ Platform (TEI) report by Forrester and commissioned by Intel estimated that by using the Intel vPro platform, an organization can improve employee experience and reduce security exposure. 3. Enjoy enterprise-grade security with confidence With hackers now attacking the BIOS on the PC, simple antivirus software defenses aren’t enough to defend against firmware threats. However, a PC powered by Intel vPro® Enterprise for Windows includes integrated hardware-based PC protection through Intel® Hardware Shield, which provides the following features:
Below-the-operating system security, which locks down memory in the BIOS against firmware attacks and enforces secure boot at the hardware level
Intel® Control-Flow Enforcement Technology (Intel® CET) provides hardware-based protection against multiple classes of attacks, including memory safety-based attacks and increasingly popular control flow subversion techniques. This technology helps prevent an entire class of attacks that can’t be thwarted with software-only solutions.
Intel® Threat Detection Technology (Intel® TDT) provides IT teams with real-time insights about end-user devices. With the industry’s first silicon-enabled AI threat detection, provided only by Intel, this enhanced security feature takes full advantage of the advanced telemetry capabilities of Intel® Hardware Shield by augmenting ISV solutions to help stop ransomware and cryptomining attacks.
These features are available out-of-the-box and minimize the risk of a malware injection by locking down memory in the BIOS when software is running and help prevent planted malware from compromising the OS. It also helps ensure the OS boots securely. The Total Economic Impact Of The Intel® vPro™ Platform found that respondents attributed an average of 76% of security improvements to the Intel vPro platform security features and tools, including Intel Hardware Shield, Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT), Intel EMA, and others. This clearly illustrates that Intel vPro provides enterprise-grade, multilayer, hardware-based security capabilities that empower IT to restore productivity and reduce help calls during an attack. 4. Do more with limited IT resources and focus on what matters Monitoring employees’ devices is hard enough, and it becomes more challenging in a distributed work environment with laptops that are constantly on the move. With the Intel vPro® platform powered by Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) and Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant (Intel® EMA), IT can schedule and automate tasks in the background without the need for end-user involvement. Most organizations are short-staffed with fewer IT resources. With the help of the Intel vPro platform, IT can expand their toolset, reduce the cost of PC fleet management and shorten the time spent remediating corrupted devices.

The Total Economic Impact Of The Intel® vPro™ Platform report showed that there are device management support cost savings – in particular through the use of Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT), Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant (Intel EMA), and Intel® Stable IT Platform Program (Intel SIPP). It also leads to reduced support for in-person escalations and fewer help desk tickets. With Intel vPro, support incidents can be resolved more often by the primary help desk representative without escalation. With Intel AMT and Intel EMA, help desk representatives have the remote access tools they need to resolve an issue, even if a person isn’t at the device or it is powered off. Another huge advantage for small IT teams is that with Intel AMT and Intel Stable IT Platform Program (SIPP), organizations can save significant time by avoiding failures of image and patch processes for remote employee

s. The additional IT cost savings resulting from Intel AMT and Intel EMA enable IT to focus on various tasks such as responding to audit, compliance, and reporting needs, planning for future endpoint improvements and supporting other teams IT requests. It’s worth noting that some Intel vPro® features are exclusive to Intel vPro® Enterprise for Windows. These include remote management support with Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT). In addition, there’s connectivity support for Wi-Fi 6/6E and Thunderbolt™ 4 technology.

Is remote working fueling a loneliness epidemic?

With the four-day working week being trialled across 70 British companies and 3,300 workers, and calls for more hybrid and flexible working opportunities, the one method that doesn’t appear to be operating as well as we’d thought is full-time remote work. Amid growing concerns about loneliness in remote workers, it is also proving to be a real threat to work-life balance and contributing to a lack of trust between managers and employees.

The Loneliness Epidemic
During what seemed like a lifetime of countless lockdowns and social distancing rules, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a loneliness epidemic. According to the Office for National Statistics, many areas reported high rates of loneliness and poor mental health. In 2020, 2.6 million adults declared that they felt lonely “often” or “always”, with this increasing to 3.7 million by 2021. Some were spending less time with family and friends, whereas others were spending long periods of time with zero human contact or social interaction which, of course, is a recipe for poor mental health.

According to one report that observed the link between COVID-19 and rates of loneliness in particular, areas with a high concentration of young people, unemployment, and low incomes were most at risk. Adults who lived alone or had a pre-existing mental health condition were also highly susceptible to loneliness. With this in mind, it is certainly possible that one of the reasons why remote working is proving to be unsuccessful is because it is not providing UK workers with the opportunity to recover from the long periods spent in isolation from others.

The Importance of Socialisation
Humans are a sociable species. Psychologists have long identified the desire to feel connected to others as a basic human need, and interpersonal relationships have a significant impact on our mental health, health behaviour, physical health, and mortality risk (Umberson & Montez, 2010). This is because our physiological systems are highly responsive to positive social interactions. They are essential to every aspect of our health, and research has demonstrated that having strong support networks and community bonds fosters both our physical and emotional health. Without it, we are at risk of a variety of physical and mental conditions like high blood pressure, cognitive decline, and depression.

Going to work is a great source of social interaction. Research has demonstrated that relationships with co-workers are one of the top drivers of employee engagement, along with cultivating teamwork and reducing the risk of depression and high blood pressure. We spend more time at work than anywhere else, and for this reason, remote workers are at risk of spending large amounts of time alone. In a survey of 2000 UK and US remote workers, a large proportion felt disproportionately isolated from others, and believed that working from home was negatively impacting their ability to build relationships and sustain social connections both in and outside work. 67% of workers aged 18-34 stated that since working remotely, they have found it harder to make friends and maintain relationships with work colleagues. 71% felt that their work colleagues had become distant, and 54% attributed remote working as the main cause for drifting apart. It was also found that the social element to work was more important to younger workers, who tend to be more sociable overall. When asked about how they would feel about working remotely on a permanent basis, 81% of younger workers expressed genuine concerns about loneliness. This is because younger generations are more inclined to go out and socialise than older generations (who tend to have more family-oriented responsibilities), which perhaps explains why the social element to work is less of a contending factor when it comes to job appeal in workers aged over 35.

The Work-Life Balance
Alongside feelings of disconnection from others, remote work poses a real threat to work-life balance. Remote workers are essentially consolidating their place of work with their place of rest, reducing the idea of home as a safe space; a place where we switch off from work-related responsibilities. Research has shown that commuting to work improves work-life balance, and many workers use their daily commute to switch on and off from work. Remote work removes the tangible boundaries that separate the home from the workplace, which can then make it difficult to compartmentalize different parts of life.

Physical barriers make it easier for the brain to make mental separations. By working in an office, for example, the environment is altered to alert the worker’s brain that their responsibilities need to shift as soon as they enter the workplace, therefore facilitating the work-life balance. In one study that examined the positive effects on employees who returned to the workplace during the pandemic, almost half (48%) of workers experienced improved mental health, while 46% saw an improvement in work-life balance. A good work-life balance has further been shown to reduce stress levels, boost productivity, increase feelings of self-control.

Lack of Trust in Manager-Employee Relationships
Remote work can further lead to a lack of trust between managers and employees. One survey discovered that 66% of employers do not trust their staff to work remotely, and this was despite only 20% reporting a decrease in productivity since moving to remote working.

A lack of trust from managers can have detrimental impacts for employees. Not only can managers project their anxieties onto their employees, but they can also apply an increased pressure for remote workers to be available all the time which can force work-life balance into further turmoil. On the other hand, if remote workers feel like their managers don’t trust them, it can put a strain on their working relationship as the employee may start to develop feelings of reluctance and resentment. It is important for managers to recognise that remote management is entirely different to face-to-face management. If a company is considering moving to a hybrid or fully remote work model, all managers should be trained in how to manage remote workers including how to monitor performance levels.

Increased Risk of Insomnia
Remote work has been linked to an increased risk of insomnia. By blurring the lines between the workplace and place of rest, it makes it difficult for brains to exit “work mode” and enter “sleep mode”. A study conducted by the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) explored the connection between remote work and insomnia, and found that 42% of people who consistently worked from home suffered from insomnia, in comparison to only 29% of individuals who worked from their employer’s premises. There have been various suggestions to explain the connection between insomnia and remote work, including the increased exposure to the blue light of computer screens. In an online poll, it was discovered that remote workers spend around 13 hours a day staring at a screen; two-hours more than people who work on-site. A contributing factor to this may be because all in-person meetings must also be moved online. In addition, remote workers are more likely to develop a propensity for going to bed late. This is because early wakeups and daily commutes are removed, so remote workers are more likely to forgo regular sleep times and develop unhealthy sleeping patterns.

Hybrid Work Models: The Way Forward?
According to the Office for National Statistics, the percentage of people working exclusively from work fell from 22% to 14% from February to May 2022. In the same period, the proportion of hybrid workers has increased from 13% to 24%. This is another major indicator that full-time remote work is becoming increasingly unpopular.

Hybrid work models offer a blend of in-office and remote work and are likely to become permanent fixtures of how we work. Various studies have shown that hybrid working models offer the “best of both worlds” by contributing to a better work-life balance, a greater ability to focus, saved commuting times and costs and higher levels of motivation. Not only do hybrid work models offer benefits for employees, but they also offer advantages for companies by reducing estate and facilities costs.

In an abovementioned survey, remote workers were asked about the benefits they would look for if they were to move to a new role. Hybrid working was listed as a top priority for all workers, with more than a third (38%) seeking this type of set-up. Flexible working hours were also seen as desirable by 42% of remote workers. Another survey discovered that 57% of managers believe that investing in flexible/ hybrid working models is essential to attracting and retaining talent.

Tackling Loneliness
Working exclusively from home can be a very lonely life, especially for those who also live alone. Loneliness can develop into a range of psychiatric disorders such as depression, alcohol abuse, insomnia, and cognitive decline so it is important for employers to conduct regular wellbeing checks on their remote workers. If remote work is having a detrimental impact on the mental health of an employee, an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) or Management Referral may be required.

There are various ways to alleviate the negative impacts of full-time work. It is recommended for remote workers to get outdoors regularly to acquire frequent doses of fresh air and vitamin D. Not only will this prevent the feeling of being stuck inside all day, but it will also do wonders for mental wellbeing. Mixing up workspaces also has various benefits. This may be working from a coffee shop, a library or the home of a friend who is also working remotely. One of the best medicines for loneliness is to be near people, even if the remote worker is not directly interacting with them.