How to upskill using peer mentoring

The modern workplace is under huge pressure to change, firstly with the demand for skilled and experienced employees which many organisations are struggling to meet, and then with the changes to the way we work through remote and hybrid working. Recent research by Gartner revealed that for 55% of senior leaders, concerns about the impact remote and hybrid working will have on organisational cultures and productivity remain high. How do organisations upskill employees when so many are remote or hybrid working, and what impact might this have on organisational cultures?

According to a 2020 McKinsey report, 94% of the UK’s workforce lack the skills they will need by 2030 to ‘perform their jobs well’. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025, 1 in 2 workers will need reskilling, and for those that remain in their roles, up to 40% of their skills will need updating. Organisations will therefore need to find ways of developing their employees whilst not negatively impacting on productivity.

There are many roles across organisations where it is difficult to take time away to undertake development. Imagine an already strained workforce having to accommodate the absence of some employees for upskilling, and you realise the challenges organisations face. Add to this the impact of upskilling through third parties, who while competent, are likely to lack the cultural context to bring any learning to life and to make it relevant to that workplace. So, how can organisations overcome the challenge of upskilling, whilst accommodating those remote and hybrid workers, and at the same time, somehow find a way of reinforcing the company culture to maintain a strong identity, able to attract and retain talent?

Imagine an already strained workforce having to accommodate the absence of some employees for upskilling, and you realise the challenges organisations face

Peer mentoring is not a new concept, but in the current climate, it is worth reviewing how people can tap into the tacit knowledge that exists across so many organisations. When an individual leaves an organisation, their years of experience – their tacit knowledge will be hard to replace. This is why peer mentoring is so beneficial, as it allows individuals to tap into that tacit knowledge from peers who work in the same organisation, at the same level, have more experience, and are aware of the challenges within the role. These individuals can provide guidance on how to overcome some of the challenges their colleague may be facing. The point of peer mentoring is not to feel threatened or intimidated, rather it is to feel supported and empowered. So, what are some of the benefits of peer mentoring?

Shared understanding
Working with someone who has more experience, who understands the challenges faced within a role, and with whom the mentee can open up to, helps create a psychologically safe space, where individuals can explore the underlying issues getting in their way. This can help the mentor to provide a different perspective which the mentee is likely to be more receptive to, than if the advice was from anyone else. Knowing the mentor understands the situation should allow for a more meaningful exploration of possibilities to support the mentee.

Shared identity
There’s a concept in psychology called social identity theory. Throughout our lives, we are constantly reviewing which social groups people around us belong to – do they belong to our group (the in-group), or other groups (the out-groups)? We want the groups to which we belong, to reflect positively on us, they are a source of pride, and membership to these groups can impact on our self-esteem. Working with mentors who are more experienced, can help support feeling a shared identity and a sense of pride in being part of the organisation, thereby impacting positively on how we feel about work.

Reinforcing the culture
Across organisations, there are so many unwritten rules, unwritten ways of working and doing work, despite what organisations may state. This can be the hardest part for new joins to navigate around when they start a new role, as much of what they will need in role, will require learning on the job, thereby impacting on their productivity and performance until they get up to speed. Those experienced colleagues who can act as mentors within the peer mentoring relationship, also bring with them the understanding of the culture of the organisation, providing advice on how to go about getting things done. This tacit knowledge of the culture is only ever learned through experience but is crucial to the success of any new join, to make sure they don’t make any faux pas, which could go on to knock their confidence.

Supporting wellbeing
When we have frustrating days at work, our partners and loved ones do their best to understand and offer advice, but it’s never quite the same as someone offering advice from the position of knowing exactly what work is like and having experienced what you have experienced. This shared understanding can also go a long way to supporting wellbeing, having the ability to talk about work-related issues with someone who can empathise. The ability to talk and be heard by someone who can then offer advice to overcome the challenge, can have a significant impact on reducing stress levels and improving resilience.

Learning in the flow
By agreeing regular catch-up meetings, it allows for the mentee to seek guidance and advice within the flow of work, thereby minimising disruption. Much of the support required may be specific to a situation or an individual and attending any generic training may be of little value in this situation. So many of us are used to Teams or Zoom calls, including for coaching sessions, therefore seeking advice from a mentor via a video call wouldn’t seem unusual. This allows individuals to seek advice while remote or hybrid working, or from a colleague who is, allowing for learning to take place at a time convenient to the individual.

Peer mentoring is a critical format that every organisation should be looking to implement, whether it’s to support an existing development programme, or to provide learning to help individuals improve their performance and productivity at work. The tacit knowledge gained through experiences cannot be replaced through generic training programmes, and when upskilling and reskilling can be expensive, this may be a good starting point in developing the skills needed across our organisations, especially with the positive impact peer mentoring can have on wellbeing and organisational cultures.


Does your culture fit your strategy?

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” has been one of the most lasting aphorisms in business. The phrase has been so durable because it accurately, and vividly, describes a common issue: trying to pursue a strategy that the organization isn’t ready for. Yet although the phrase nicely sums up the problem, the solutions are harder to find.

Success requires understanding—and measuring—the potential disconnect between the culture of an organization and the strategy under consideration. Cultures can change, but they can’t change radically in the near term. If a leadership team can determine the size of the gap between culture and strategy in advance, they can set the right level of ambition for that strategy—and increase the odds that it will succeed.

Start with the data
First, you need to understand the company’s culture—the identity of the organization. A lot of CEOs think they have this understanding, but that’s often at a high level, based on impressions and anecdotes (and of course, CEOs don’t always get the full and unfiltered view). Even when companies conduct formal research, they tend to focus on employee engagement, asking whether employees are happy coming to work, whether their jobs are fulfilling, or whether they’d recommend the company to a friend. Those methods have value, but they answer a different question: whether employees feel positively or negatively about various aspects of their workplace experience. They don’t identify what the culture actually is.

To fully understand a company’s culture, you need to go beyond those sentiments. That requires a comprehensive survey of the organization, one that looks at more than just employee engagement. Questions need to be structured to accurately define the dominant traits of an organization and how they might impact its ability to deliver on its strategic goals, as well as the workplace experience it offers to employees. It’s a challenging task, because culture—the unwritten rules for how a company functions on a day-to-day basis—is often invisible.

For example, PwC’s Culture Thumbprint diagnostic asks employees a series of questions about their company, each of which has a binary set of options, such as:

• Are there single points of accountability, or are decisions made by a consensus?

• Do interactions tend to be polite and cordial, or with the acceptance of conflict?

• Is the organization focused on specific priorities, or is it open to new opportunities as they emerge?

• Is your organization comfortable with risk, or is it risk-averse?

• Is your organization comfortable with formal processes, or does it encourage improvisation?

By aggregating these answers from all employees, companies can synthesize them down to a set of core cultural traits that are unique to the organization—and quickly identify the elements of culture that can be leveraged as strengths, along with those that most need to evolve. This analysis also can highlight nuances in the corporate culture, or pockets in which one business unit has a somewhat different culture than another, or the organization overall. With this view in mind, you can be much better prepared to see whether the culture is compatible with the company’s target strategy—and this is where things get interesting.

Measuring the alignment between culture and strategy
One client in the financial-services industry recently applied this approach. The firm had been experiencing high employee turnover, and management wanted to transform to become more innovative and customer-centric. That’s a common goal of a lot of organizations right now, spurred in part by the acceleration of technology. But the diagnostic showed that the firm’s culture was very hierarchical and process-focused, with a cautious approach to change. That kind of culture has long made sense in the financial-services industry, which is heavily regulated and rewards compliance to predefined processes. However, such a culture doesn’t readily align with innovation and customer-centricity, which made it difficult for the client to achieve those goals.

The 2021 PwC Global Culture Survey
Another noteworthy finding was the disconnect between how management talked about the firm’s culture, and the reality of the culture revealed in the data. Before running the diagnostic, management often described the firm as having respectful, egalitarian leadership. But in the results, the firm’s hierarchical culture came through loud and clear. That disconnect created a kind of incoherence that affected the workplace experience. It’s a common problem: managers see and say one thing; employees experience something else.

Notably, no cultural trait is inherently good or bad. On the contrary, just about any trait can include both strengths and weaknesses. For the financial-services firm, another cultural trait that emerged was that many employees had a “get it done” mindset. That can be an organizational strength: team members are able to rally together during difficult times, and they have a bias toward action, flexibility, and speed.

But this trait can also pose challenges. The sense of constantly responding to pressure can cause stress and burnout (a prime source of employee turnover). Similarly, the firm’s get-it-done mindset meant employees were often finding clever workarounds to processes, without ever stopping to see how the processes themselves were ineffective. (The diagnostic also found that the financial-services firm’s employees were more likely to fix problems than prevent problems—less than ideal in a regulated industry.)

Closing the gap
What to do when there is a gap between the current culture and the target strategy? Leadership teams are sometimes tempted to undertake a large initiative to completely change the culture, but that would be a mistake. Culture is self-sustaining and difficult to change. Rather, leaders should identify elements of the existing culture that support the company’s strategy and are sources of pride, and magnify these elements.

No cultural trait is inherently good or bad. On the contrary, just about any trait can include both strengths and weaknesses.

In addition, leaders can identify a critical few behaviors to evolve specific elements of the culture that are particularly problematic. The key here is focus: rather than attempting a wholesale revolution of culture, successful initiatives prioritize specific pieces. For example, the financial-services firm identified behaviors that affected cross-functional collaboration and transparent communication. It set up an advisory board on which a small group of nonmanagement employees could provide unvarnished feedback to the leadership team. This broke down the overly hierarchical culture at the firm and helped it achieve its goal of becoming more innovative and customer-centric.

Other organizations with a large gap between culture and strategy could try different solutions. Regarding innovation, for example, an organization could create a new business unit that serves as a hub for new ideas, with teams given an explicit mandate to move fast and work in new ways.

But none of these options will be possible until companies systematically and quantifiably assess their current culture and determine how well it supports the ways in which they want to operate in the future.


Why social media is so important to hybrid working

It comes as no revelation to hear there is a direct correlation between individuals feeling included and looked after, and their levels of performance. There are no takers for the view that no communications strategy is required to keep staff engaged and motivated when working from home, or anywhere else for that matter. However, surveys suggest that this is exactly what is happening in many cases. New research by Opinium of 3,000 workers operating in a hybrid capacity, found only 19 per cent of those polled said their company has a hybrid working plan.

Hybrid Working and The Great Resignation
Internal communications is more important than ever. One of the key reasons employees leave in such great numbers as part of the Great Resignation, is feeling a lack of belonging and identification of wider job and company purpose. After everything they have been through with Covid, many weren’t and aren’t seeing their role or company function working for them. When working from home, the intensity of these factors rises considerably.

Employees need to feel a sense of purpose behind both job and corporate function, and in hybrid scenarios it has to be conveyed successfully along with other key attributes that include:

The high value placed on staff

Company leadership

Company identity and philosophy

Effective work and employment practices

Presence of company personalities

On top of this, many individuals seek reassurance on ESG strategy. This is particularly important to the Gen Z and Millennial generations. So important in fact, that studies show that a perceived shortfall in environmental and social responsibility means that more than half of younger working demographics won’t consider joining a company. Credentials have to be seen to be properly present to a significant degree.

The Communications Remit For HR Departments
What this means in effect, is that HR departments have to successfully engage with employees to sell all that the company does, and stands for. Hybrid working compounds this need.

To be effective, communication has to resonate, and it is has to be a continuous process. Done correctly, it oils the wheels of hybrid working, and it goes a long way to solving the Great Resignation. And as research concludes, it helps optimise staff performance.

Social media is the most effective medium for creating regular dialogue with employees. The medium has the unusual ability to close the communications gap between company and staff on the terms of both parties.

Firstly, social media is a familiar platform that cuts through messaging clutter in a way that email, intranet, verbal presentation or paper posts on notice boards never can. It also lends itself to frequent use. Three or four emails to staff in a week becomes tiresome. Even the best written copy promising the most positive news can slip dangerously towards the category of spam. But the same on social media is accepted as a way of being kept in touch. The medium can be used consistently to reach individuals with without becoming worn.

It should be remembered, social media is used by many people as a primary source of news, and other forms of information. It is also commonly used as a form of entertainment, and a platform for staying in touch and sharing with friends. It is mostly used multiple times a day. Because of these factors, it sits within the personal wavelength of employees, and can bring them closer to a company, make them feel part of a recognised community, and generate psychological reward in a way no other communication channel can.

The most effective way to utilise the medium for internal communication is by borrowing the principles of strategic consumer social media marketing. Content needs to be based on understanding the audience, and social media data analysis reveals a very great deal of information about employees. If software analytics tools are utilised, more than 40 million attributes can be identified and tracked. It enables company messages to be matched and targeted at the audience exactly. It makes a big difference from trying to calaculate what communication should look like.

Not only that, but it is possible to identify subjects of concern being voiced by employees. HR departments can see problems as they begin to arise, and address them before they evolve – a major difference from only finding out once a situation has escalated. In the case of hybrid working this is doubly important.

The Best Way To Keep Employees Engaged
Messaging works best in the form of storytelling based on long term strategy. Social media is an exceptionally good platform for this. In the best traditions of good narratives there should be ups and downs. A steady flow of good news announcements eventually lose impact, but progress updates and successfully addressing setbacks is more appealing. It is human nature to try and conjure upbeat announcements even where there are none to be found, but credibility drops if all there is are low or medium levels positive stories. It is better to explain journey progress.

This is because a fundamental of communication is maintaining integrity. Virtue signalling is a national pet hate. People now have a keen antennae for false claims and over claims, and once identified there are almost no second chances to win back credibility. However, there can be widespread positive acceptance of negative news if it is against a history of integrity, and an explanation of how a problem is being addressed.

The best approach is to describe plans as they unfold. However, this should not exclude one off announcements, such a sales win, or a human interest story about a member of staff that has achieved an exceptional result, or personal achievement.

Frequency of messages is an important subject. Messaging more than three times per week has the risk of creating communication burnout, even with the best content. The exception to this is Twitter, which lends itself to higher use.

It is also important to recognise that different parts of the employee audience use different social media channels. Each platform has a different demographic of users, and therefore it is important to understand which. This gives the advantage of being able to tailor content more effectively. The underlying message can be the same, but the use of copy, creativity and emphasis can be altered to factor in who will see it. The more focus there is on understanding the employee audience, the better the outcome becomes. Everyone wins.


How can employees be helped to manage financial stress?

Given the gravitas of what’s ahead, it’s hardly surprising to hear that financial stress is having a detrimental impact on the mental health, and consequently the productivity, of workers. In fact, as many as two-thirds of UK employees say money worries are affecting their mental health and three-in-five claim financial distress is impacting their performance at work.

The extent to which financial wellbeing impacts mental health, and therefore presenteeism and the ability to work, cannot be underestimated. It is time for employers to take the financial wellbeing of their people seriously.

Worryingly, many employees feel their workplace offers them little or no financial wellbeing support. Research by Wealth at Work found half of working UK adults receive no support from their employer on how to understand their finances. Whilst a separate report from the Building Societies Association (BSA) found only 24% of employees think that their employer cares about their financial wellbeing.

Many employers assume that providing a path to financial wellbeing or security means increasing salaries or awarding large bonuses. Although we’ve already seen some companies offering pay raises and bonuses to their employees as a direct result of the cost of living crisis, it’s important to know that, however helpful, a cash injection is just one of many ways businesses can support their employees through this time.

Here we provide a further three simple ways UK workplaces can help their employees manage financial stress:

Normalise talking about finances in the workplace: Most people struggle to admit when they are in trouble, especially if the difficulties they’re facing concern money. When we are worried about a situation, like finances, we tend to avoid talking about it with anyone at home and at work due to fear or feeling overwhelmed. In fact, almost three-quarters of employees said they’ve never spoken to their employer or line manager about financial wellbeing. The longer someone remains stressed, the more their mental health declines and the more detrimental the impact on their productivity, sleep and relationships.

Employers can help their staff by normalising the topic of financial wellbeing through existing support mechanisms like Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which usually include an array of staff benefits including a focus on wellbeing support via counselling or other talking therapies. Employers may wish to consider providing wellbeing advice to employees via internal communications hubs. Forums like this can act as a safe place to talk about money related worries and will help to normalise talking about finances.

Offer flexible working hours: Managers should consider allowing more flexibility for employees who are dealing with high-pressure financial situations during the working day, rather than restricting these conversations to outside working hours or in lunch breaks. Managers could give employees the time to deal with stressful calls or tasks, such as buying a house, or rectifying a missed payment. It could help prevent the build up of anxiety through the rest of the working day. Providing this type of support will help stop the situation spiralling and will, in all likelihood, have a positive impact on the productivity of the employee.

Tailor the benefit to the employee: Each and every employee will experience different pressures during the cost-of-living crisis. As such different employees will find different benefits helpful to them or the stage of life they are at. For example, a parent may find it helpful to receive additional childcare support. And a graduate may be interested in a salary advance scheme combined with awareness of budgeting towards the next pay date. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to helping employees with their financial wellbeing. But talking to them and figuring out how to help people individually could be instrumental to improving their financial wellbeing and, ultimately, their overall mental health.

Workplaces play a key role in financial wellbeing. Not only because mental ill health can impact employee performance, but also because of the sheer amount of time we spend at work. Families are already struggling to navigate rising inflation rates and soaring energy and fuel costs – Citizens Advice says the crisis support it’s giving is growing at record breaking levels. Businesses must put their plans into action and make their employees’ financial wellbeing a priority.


Is It Time to Put Your Data Strategy on a Diet?

Organizations today need to streamline their data strategies to be able to lift more value from their data and derive tangible benefits. Mathias Golombek, CTO at Exasol, shares insightful tips for efficient, cost-effective data management and how companies can employ leaner data management systems and processes. In today’s competitive business environment, data has never been more valuable.

It helps inform almost every aspect of business, from product innovation to security to hiring, and can be a critical competitive differentiator for organizations. However, while data volumes are expected to almost double in size from 2022 to 2026, 93% of IT decision-makers view storage and data management complexity as impeding innovation and digital transformation. In fact, a recent survey [MP1] found that organizations use an average of around 23 different data management tools.

It is clear that we’ve reached a critical crossroads in the data management space. Complexity and costs are growing, hindering companies at a time when an efficient and effective data strategy is needed most. Let’s dive into some of these common data management challenges organizations face and how a streamlined data strategy can help. What’s Driving Data Management Costs? There are several common challenges today’s IT teams encounter when it comes to data management.

At the top of the list is investing in the incorrect infrastructure for their specific data workload needs. On the one hand, a business can invest in a database that requires too big an infrastructure to perform, hindering data-driven operations. On the other hand, a company may begin with a small and affordable solution but will soon see costs exploding if it isn’t scalable and the system grows linearly with usage. Organizations also face challenges around personnel costs for database administration and implementation, often underestimating them from the onset. Labor costs can quickly add up if the data stack is too complex and extra engineering work is needed.

This can occur, for example, if there’s a data system that needs several database administrators (DBAs) tuning the systems at all times or if a business jumps at the opportunity to invest in a data management system that is affordable from a software license perspective, but needs additional engineering work. Because of these data management complexities and growing expenses, data teams often become the bottlenecks for data processes, leaving their organizations with vast data lakes of expensive, unusable data.

Without the ability to lift the real value from the data, businesses are unable to conduct effective data-driven decision-making, leaving them at a large competitive disadvantage. If your organization has reached this point, it’s time to make a change to your data strategy. See More: Data Orchestration Basics: How to Organize Data to Gain Real-Time Insights Tips for a Successful Top-down, Streamlined Data Strategy Pivoting to a streamlined data strategy can help businesses salvage their data management and analytics capabilities.

A top-level, consolidated data approach is instrumental to determining the right priorities and where to invest in helping minimize complexity and costs and ultimately enable an organization to leverage its data better. Here are some critical considerations for businesses to keep in mind when implementing this approach: 1. Structure your organization to enable a data-led culture Work to determine the right organizational structure to foster a data-led culture.

This comes down to assigning data asset ownership, filling any data skills gaps, and hiring accordingly. For example, hiring a chief data officer (CDO[MP2] ) can simplify this process and help orchestrate and oversee this change. In fact, CDOs have been in very high demand in recent years for this reason. Seen as a specialist in translating and delivering real value from data, this person doesn’t necessarily need to have deep technical expertise but rather an understanding of how to transform a business culture at a higher level successfully. 2. Prioritize operational business intelligence (BI) Solutions should be measured against output so the ROI can be monitored on an operational basis. Instead of just collecting the departmental requirements for specific data reporting capabilities, compile a thorough data strategy that contains goals and priorities.

Change your mindset from primarily leveraging data to create transparency through streamlined KPIs and metrics to using data as a driving source for data-driven decision-making. Ingraining data analytics into the business chain enables organizations to optimize their business; this is the ultimate transformation from traditional BI to operational BI. 3. Streamline and simplify your data stack Invest in cloud infrastructure, software as service (SaaS) offerings and other modern data solutions that use infrastructure more efficiently to help simplify technical stacks, enabling companies to be more agile in their data strategies. SaaS, for example, helps reduce complexity within an IT team’s own organization on multiple levels by eliminating the need to maintain solutions themselves, offering lower costs and enhanced scalability.

While data strategy consolidation should always be a goal for organizations, we must also keep in mind that it is not a silver bullet to all data management problems. Leveraging best-of-breed solutions should not be fully discounted, as businesses will always need to mix and match tools to a certain extent depending on their unique needs. Data teams must continue to learn, evolve and adjust to meet their changing data demands.


Four Ways Leaders Can Create Transparency in the Workplace

What’s the number one factor that can make or break employee satisfaction scores? Transparency. When an organization commits to leading with transparency, employees feel supported, respected, and empowered to do their best work. At its core, transparency partners perfectly with trust. And right now, workplace trust is at an all-time low. In fact, a Harvard Business Review survey revealed that 58% of people trust strangers more than their own boss. Yet, without a culture of trust, employees will struggle to remain engaged or feel a sense of greater belonging. Emerging innovations in HR technology and people analytics can help build transparency and trust within organizations. Further, using this technology to build connections across teams equips everyone with insights to be more efficient, as embedding transparency and trust benefits not only employees but also the entire company.

The Importance of Transparency in the Workplace Before infusing more transparency into an organization, it’s important to understand its value. Only one in three employees trust their organization’s leadership, according to a Gallup study. This distrust can stem from poor policies or a lack of common culture, leading to vastly different employee experiences. Some teams may be more transparent than others, resulting in inconsistent sentiment across your organization.

This distrust and sentiment mean employees are more likely to have a negative outlook on their company when leaders are not upfront about company decisions, goals, and metrics. Fundamentally, employees want company leaders who are transparent and make data-driven decisions. These leaders should be cognizant of employee attitudes and willingly share details, so their teams feel prepared, supported, and respected. Good leaders understand that when an organization lacks transparency, employees fill in the gaps with their own — often negative — assumptions. Jumping to conclusions rarely generates positive outcomes.

And it is more likely to happen when organizations hide poor numbers, deliver inconsistent messages on company goals, or engage in other deceptive behaviors. A transparent approach equips employees with concrete, accurate information that establishes an organization as a dependable resource. Inclusion is also key to creating a transparent organization. Creating a culture of inclusion also helps employees feel comfortable sharing their true selves. Cultivating a sense of belonging has a positive impact company-wide on employee productivity, motivation, and pride. As a result, more than half of people have an improved sense of belonging at work when they feel trusted and respected, according to EY.

Transparency also helps employees with their own performance and development because they are more knowledgeable of the organization at large. Finally, a culture of transparency helps employees stay emotionally connected, a critical link for remote and even hybrid workers. A standardized people strategy designed to support company-wide communication regardless of how, when, and where people work is paramount to building those emotional connections. Creating a Transparent Work Culture Because of its significance, creating a transparent workplace culture can feel overwhelming. Here are four tips for laying the foundation. 1. Determine what information drives results Beyond the basics, organizations struggle with what to share. A fine line exists between transparency and confidentiality, so companies must plan their information-sharing strategically and with intention. For example, employees should have clarity on salary ranges and their salary band within an organization’s compensation structure. This insight removes the guesswork of who makes what, clarifies different roles, and provides a roadmap for professional growth opportunities. If you choose to share exact employee salaries, proceed with caution. Sharing this level of detail can lead to stress and distraction, especially when it’s not disclosed how each salary is calculated. Sales representatives, for example, may share the same base salary but see a wide variation in gross salary based on earned commissions. 2. Centralize people’s data and make it accessible Once an organization decides what information to share, the next step is to make it readily available. The nature of remote or hybrid work can make it more important to ensure information is shared often and that communication channels are streamlined. People analytics software consolidates and leverages an organization’s data and facilitates easy access for all team members. Storing data in one secure place helps everyone feel more connected by raising awareness of:
Company values and goals.
Hiring plans and their impact on specific, individual roles.
Reporting structure and cross-functional information.
Who their peers are, beyond names and titles.
Context from organized data is a fundamental part of individual and team success. Without context, employees struggle to understand their roles and contribution to achieving company goals. Functional managers can’t support their teams from afar without clear strategies and continuous data.

Instead, investing in a people analytics solution builds connections between multiple systems and aggregates People data so your entire organization can make more informed decisions. See More: Rehumanizing the Workplace in 2021 With an Employee-First Culture 3. Lead by example Establishing a culture of trust starts with the leadership team. Leaders should embrace honesty and authenticity as employees are more likely to engage with leaders when management earns their trust. In fact, employee productivity increases by more than 50% when managers help their reports align their own goals with those of the organization, according to Gallup’s research. This is critical to building a foundation of trust.

Leadership should hold regularly planned company-wide meetings to detail where the organization stands and what’s next, instead of just running through the numbers. If changes occur, leaders should communicate shifts, so employees are never surprised. Don’t forget to provide a forum to submit questions that gives people a place to ask questions. Executives can then address those comments and concerns in an all-hands setting. Next, managers should adopt an open-door policy, making themselves and their decisions available to their workforce. This approach prevents an “us versus them” culture from growing.

A broken and misaligned culture can lead to interpersonal conflict, discriminatory practices, and subpar performances. 3. Scale transparency for growth After executing the first three steps, it’s important to remember that your transparency strategy must change and grow with your organization. The same processes likely won’t work for each stage of growth, but the backbone of transparency should remain unchanged. Leaders should remain flexible and expect to adjust communication and messaging.

For example, a small start-up may share a wealth of information with different stakeholders because, especially in the beginning, the decision-making process involves many people. But at the enterprise level, that number of people naturally dwindles as the decision-making becomes more strategic and involves more executives. It’s the job of stakeholders to strategize on behalf of a company and only communicate what’s pertinent.

An evolving organization must continually revisit and adjust its transparency strategy to maintain the right balance. Survey after survey shows that employees perform their best and feel engaged when organizations create and prioritize a culture of trust. Over time, leaders will uncover the right balance between open information-sharing and confidentiality. And with that balance, organizations can feel confident that their transparency strategy will drive company culture.


Is the big quit a myth?


The survey supports a different and much more positive view. It reveals that frontline workers enjoy their jobs and want to work for their employers. Of those we surveyed, 59% of frontline workers say that they feel proud of their jobs, 68% feel close to their co-workers and 65% enjoy using a variety of their skills and talents whilst working.

Retail receives a lot of undue criticism for low wages, poor conditions and low retention, if retailers choose to run it that way but everything changes once retailers understand that a new generation of worker is now in the industry and want to give good service as long as they are better trained, better equipped and better rewarded.

Key to determining the right strategy for the future workforce is a much deeper and clearer understanding of what workers want, and indeed what they don’t want.

The trick is first to review many of the assumptions that companies have made about their staff for the longest time.

Retail employees want to get paid more, of course that will always be true, but there are a number of other factors that have almost the same weight in their decisions to work in retail and stay in role. In our survey, 85% said the pay was very and extremely important, and 83% said working for an organisation that they could trust was important as was feeling valued and supported by management. Of significant weight also was feeling connected and being heard by co-workers and managers (77%), recognition for work done (74%) and benefits (73%).

These findings will help retailers build a more effective strategy for recruiting, training, motivating and retaining staff.

In addition, it must consider what is happening in retail right now, factors that are likely to be the case for some years to come. Again, the survey reveals what is going on. Various pressures that built up during the pandemic had actually got worse since it passed; the topline ones were, 50% of workers felt staffing had gotten worse. They said that the demands of the job had got tougher for 43%, while interactions with customers had got worse for 30%. 26% added that training had got worse.

These findings then point to the impact of these pressures on staff because understanding how frontline employees feel is critical to fixing the problem. In the survey, 72% said that they felt worn out at the end of their shift, while 44% felt that their organisations were not investing in their development. Only 16% felt that their organisation highly valued their role. 38% feel connected to their organisations management and head office. And 45% think that management cares about their mental health.

From all these findings comes the raw material for building a blueprint for the future workforce, the one that wants to work, to serve and to stay long term in retail.

Technology can ease and in fact take advantage of many of the pressure points that are now more common in retail. Staff can be supported in their roles with digital tools that help manage the workload. Half of workers want these tools, specifically for task management that make processes clear and intuitive, enabling employees to work autonomously and be confident that they have completed everything to the expected standard.

Now connected into the organisation, staff are able to make a significant contribution to the business directly from the shop floor because the traditional layers of communication to the centre are removed. And what works for staff works at the same time for head office; these tools give HQ clear insight into what has been completed, so there’s no need to waste time individually contacting different locations to follow up on task completion.

There are three steps in working out how to build these task management tools. First asking your employees which tasks or processes they feel they spend too much time on – where do they feel things could be simplified or automated. Then, the right tasks can be built in so people only receiving the instructions which are relevant to them, and with clear deadlines. Thirdly, once tasks have been identified, the multiple spreadsheets, paper checklists and WhatsApp groups can be consolidated into a single tool.

Armed with these digital tools, staff can confront but also welcome the realities of retail today where there are often fewer staff in some locations, an ever-expanding number of roles, and customers stressed by the rising cost of living.


How Work Management Platforms Have Kept up With the Post-COVID World

According to Pew Research, roughly 60% of U.S. workers who say their jobs can mainly be done from home are working from home all or most of the time. This is a stark contrast to the 23% of U.S. workers who said they normally worked remotely in 2019. This normalization of hybrid work has altered both employees’ and managers’ expectations about the employee experience, which has impacted the recruiting process and the retention of workers. It has been a rocky road to navigate, and the work complexities that arose with the Digital Age have been exacerbated by remote and hybrid work and the many apps and systems put in place to support it.

Employees use 14 apps a day on average to complete their work, and 61% feel stressed because they don’t have all the information they need to do their job, according to a new Wrike survey. Work just lives in too many places. Thankfully, technology platforms have begun to embrace new ways of thinking and working to combat and solve these challenges caused by hybrid and remote work. Here are the most significant ways that work management platforms have evolved alongside the world to improve the employee experience in 2022.

With these technologies, work management platforms have eliminated time-consuming tasks done regularly, especially for admin purposes, which allows employees to focus on work that matters. According to Wrike’s research mentioned above, employees spend 4.4 months of the year doing mundane work like taking notes, drafting action items, and tracking tasks. This leads to more burnout and less time spent focusing on productive actions contributing to the team’s goals.

Ultimately, both workers and the business feel the negative impact of this work. However, with features like workflow automation, a task can pass ownership automatically, allowing a person that works on the east coast to log off work knowing that their colleague on the west coast will pick up follow-up actions for the project. The rise of low-code and no-code technology is also making it easier for employees across the organization, not just in the IT department, to develop and roll out automations.

This software enables all workers to create technical solutions and applications regardless of their programming or coding capabilities. With low-code software, they can create solutions to problems they’re presented with quickly and easily, building them around their existing workflows so that they complement their work. This gives them more time back to focus on higher priority assignments and more strategic and meaningful work. Improving Visibility Additionally, work management platforms provide managers with more visibility into work taking place, including the status and progress of the most important tasks. In hybrid work models, it can be hard for managers to know what their employees do daily.

In fact, 57% of employees say their employer doesn’t understand how hard they work, while 66% of function leaders say it’s very hard or impossible to tell when employees are over-working unless they say it directly. This lack of visibility leads to time being spent doing low-priority tasks or disconnects around business goals. To keep teams on the same page, technologies have evolved to help managers get insight into the work their teams are doing. These platforms allow managers to be more forward-looking, too, with the capability to forecast projects and possible resource needs and manage them accordingly.

This enables them to evaluate scheduling scenarios before assigning work to team members across departments, avoiding burnout from overworked employees and ensuring a fair distribution of tasks. And, if priorities change or a conflict pops up, managers can translate that into the platform by changing task ownership or flagging the status of the task appropriately.

When managers and employees are more closely aligned on projects and can ensure those projects are in turn aligned with the overall business goals, the entire organization can operate more seamlessly and with minimal frustration. Measuring Impact Instead of Time Lastly, work management platforms today have made it easier than ever for managers to measure employees’ impact on goals instead of the time they spend working. In the aftermath of the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams became disparate, with work taking place in many different locations and time zones.


The working hours across teams don’t always match up, so it can be hard for them to get on the same page. Additionally, even when an employee works 8+ hours a day, it doesn’t always translate into visible output. Measuring impact on goals instead of time allows workers to understand better what they bring to their team or organization. With this information, managers can also better understand the value employees bring to the table and how that aligns with business objectives. For example, previously, managers might have overseen employees who put in the time each day, but they were never sure how these employees were faring with their work due to their remote status.

Now that modern work management platforms can give insight into task ownership and status, that manager has the ability to check in on the progress as their employee is working, all without having to check in for updates. This also allows managers to make more data-driven decisions about employees and offer better feedback when reviewing performance. In addition to easily measuring an employee’s contributions, work management platforms now also have capabilities that save managers time while onboarding and bringing a new colleague up to speed. Employees can be assigned a series of onboarding tasks, which will clearly guide them through the process.

And with ownership being flexible, multiple teams can be kept in the loop while allowing a manager to have insight into the employee’s progress. See More: It’s Time to Tackle the Tricky Parts of Hybrid Work These key factors have changed the employee experience to create a more focused, transparent workplace, which is vital in a world where the Great Resignation is still being felt. Companies must provide the best possible experience for workers while fostering a collaborative, flexible culture that upholds resilience and balance. A vital part of making employees happy is ensuring they know their work is important. That, along with emphasizing clarity and making work more efficient, are key selling points in today’s hybrid world that will make employees not only want to stay with a company but also excited to come to work every day.


Guide to hiring graduates in 2022’s ever-changing job landscape

Many hiring leaders have been preparing for this influx of talent. In fact, employers plan to hire 26% more graduates from the class of 2022 than they did from the class of 2021. And with 61 million people in Gen Z, defined as those born between 1997 to 2012, there is a huge number of young professionals now looking for a new role. As such, employers need to make sure they’re making the most of this new surge of talent, using hiring methods that enable them to find the strongest candidates.

It’s also important to remember that Gen Z is the first to be considered to be made up of “digital natives.” 58% of Gen-Zers say they struggle going four hours or more without Internet access. This means any process introduced by hiring leaders has to be new, innovative and, of course, digital if it’s to attract the Gen Z crowd.

To truly understand the group they’re targeting and attract the best talent in a busy job market, HR leaders need to consider three key factors: technology, employee experience and employee location.

A tech-savvy generation

Technology plays a huge part in graduates’ day-to-day life, with over half of Gen Z saying they use their smartphones for more than five hours a day. This means hiring leaders need to be able to contact them easily via text or WhatsApp if they’re to engage with graduates before a competitor does.

Using technology can create a hiring experience that’s tailored to this younger group. By incorporating artificial intelligence and texting automation into hiring strategies, hiring leaders can keep Gen-Zers interested throughout the entire hiring process. Candidates can easily reply to texts no matter where they are so hiring leaders can engage candidates faster than via email. Plus, text-powered chatbots allow businesses to pre-screen candidates and then schedule and reschedule interviews all from their smartphones.

Studies show 79.4% of younger candidates prefer booking an interview via text over email or even a phone call – texts have a 98% open rate versus 20% with email. It’s clear this is the best way of contacting the new graduate generation.

DE&I at the heart

It’s also essential to understand what Gen Z is looking for, and how it differs from the generations who came before. Recent reports show they’re far more interested in finding an employer who shares their values and beliefs. They want an environment where they feel appreciated, where they can grow relationships with their colleagues and ultimately a company where inclusivity plays a key role in the culture.

According to Intel, diversity “will be a workplace deal-breaker for Gen Z.” Over a third of Gen-Zers say if given two similar offers, they would without a doubt choose the company they saw to be more diverse and inclusive.

Gen Z candidates are also 204% more likely to engage with a potential employer when they perceive the hiring process to be fair. Businesses need to bring in hiring platforms, such as HireVue, which use industrial and organisational psychologies to actively combat bias, allowing hiring leaders to build and structure interviews with validated questions, to provide an identical experience for all candidates guaranteeing consistency and fairness. Ensuring hiring methods are as impartial as possible will increase the likelihood of top graduate talent choosing to take a new role in the business.

Location, location, location
Today’s job market has changed for good as a result of hybrid working. Graduates coming out of university have done the majority of their studies remotely and will expect their move into the professional world to be equally as flexible. This creates an opportunity for businesses to search for talent across the country and boost the standard of employees entering the company.

Thanks to remote work, hiring leaders in many industries are no longer confined to searching for candidates by local area. The increase in location-agnostic roles makes it possible to recruit based on job fit and skills, instead of locality. This has a positive outcome for businesses, as hiring leaders can attract and recruit the highest quality candidates. Businesses need to make sure their hiring leaders are making the most of this, targeting universities across the UK, rather than just students within the local area.

While hiring graduates in 2022 and beyond may require a different approach than in previous years, it also gives businesses a chance to hire stronger talent than ever before, using younger candidates to fill the growing skills gap. Companies who alter and update hiring processes to suit the needs of this group will find themselves with a new batch of graduates providing immediate value to their business.


Defend and Protect: Outwitting Cybercriminals

The attacks on Colonial Pipeline and SolarWinds are among the most well-known cybercrimes of the past few years because of the devastating, widespread and long-lasting impact of those breaches. The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, which shut down a major fuel supply pipeline, was caused by a single compromised password used to access the firm’s VPN. In the SolarWinds breach, hackers inserted malicious code into software used to manage IT systems by thousands of government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and enterprises such as Microsoft, Cisco and Intel. The situation is dire, and it is only getting worse.

Remote workers connecting to company networks via insecure home networks and personal devices are opening up new vulnerabilities. Last year, cyberattacks against corporate networks increased 50% compared to 2020, according to Check Point Research. Data from IBM shows that more than half of data breaches resulted from malicious cyberattacks, but accidental breaches caused by human error and system glitches accounted for almost as many. Clearly, organizations must rethink their approach to data security and tighten their defenses against both accidental failures and increasingly sophisticated attacks.

Yet there are several strategies enterprises can adopt to lay a solid foundation for safeguarding their business. See More: Joining Forces: A Public-Private Sector Collab Against Cybercrime Control Access First Every organization should have strong controls on who can access data and systems. Granting suppliers or partners access to corporate information and systems can be a mistake, as supply chain attacks increasingly demonstrate. If any user does not have a legitimate business need, then they should not have access to that data. The most secure networks in the world are still vulnerable to human error. If one user enters an errant keystroke or click, fails to follow a security protocol or falls for a phishing scheme, that person may compromise the integrity of your data or even the whole network. Weak or stolen credentials or network access from an unauthorized user or unsecured mobile device are just two examples. Rigorous education can help inculcate best practices in users, but that is not enough. Humans are fallible. The best way to secure networks and data is to limit access to only those who need it.

Adopting a zero-trust policy that allows only authenticated, continually verified users to access your IT systems and services can greatly mitigate the risks. Multifactor authentication can play an essential part. Users should have to authenticate in at least two ways – using a PIN, physical token, biometrics or trusted devices — especially when so many employees are working remotely on weakly protected home networks or mobile devices. Tightening the authentication process makes it harder for bad actors to find a way past your defenses. Prepare for the Worst-case Scenario A breach may very well occur at some point, despite your precautions, and you must prepare for that eventuality. In the first half of 2021, ransomware attacks reported to the FBI climbed 62% over the year before. A 2021 report from Sophos shows that 37% of organizations surveyed had been struck by ransomware within the past year. Paying the ransom does not guarantee that files will be recovered, and it certainly does not protect against future attacks. In fact, paying up encourages them, emboldening the hackers to either strike your organization a second time or use the funds you provided to accelerate their attacks on others. A backup will not save you, either. A modern backup solution might protect your data, but it will fail your business.

The problem is not the backup itself but the recovery. At the scale of a single application or process, recovery is very straightforward, with files copied back to their original location or a new location, if needed. At this small scale, recovery from backups can be effective. But the more files there are to recover, the more time the process consumes. At the enterprise scale, it can take weeks or even months to restore data from backups fully. This is especially true when recovering from a distributed ransomware attack that hits multiple sites at the same time. IT is forced to prioritize some locations or groups over others. Rapid Recovery through Continuous Versioning The approach used in many platforms is a type of file-system versioning that restores files to a previous, non-corrupted state.

Unfortunately, these systems often provide a limited number of versions, which may only go back a few days. This is usually not far enough for proper ransomware recovery. Sophisticated malware can go undetected for weeks or more before initiating an attack. The solution is a continuous versioning file system that leverages the cloud’s massive scalability and redundancy. This can offer infinite versions for recovery – within minutes of any point in time – even in highly scaled-out environments. With global file synchronization, these capabilities can extend worldwide and enable a company to restore its data in mere minutes. If a threat manages to compromise a particular data store, others can be accessed, enabling operations to continue with barely a pause. These reserve copies of data are often only minutes old, so the impact on the data environment after restoration is minimal.

Consider Your Position Enterprises should consider replacing outdated data protection policies with new solutions purpose-built to deliver rapid, full recoveries from ransomware and other attacks with minimal disruption to the business. Organizations at every scale should be in a position to recover within minutes or hours of an attack – there are no longer any excuses for days or more of downtime. If your data protection solutions provider tells you otherwise, you are working with an outdated technology not built for the cloud era.

Although robust prevention and protection solutions are essential defense strategies, they only represent one piece of a solid overall strategy. No defense is foolproof. Hackers will find a way inside. Once there is a breach, the damage is done, and the floodgates are wide open. Enterprises need a fast, reliable recovery plan in place. Cyberattacks will continue. They will become more sophisticated. You must do the same because if not, your business could be easy prey for the growing ranks of cybercriminals.