Georgianna W. Oliver – Forbes Councils Member
Sep 13, 2022
Georgianna W. Oliver is the founder of Tour24, the leading new product that offers self-guided tours for apartments.
The pandemic forcing organizations to migrate to fully remote models was soon followed by the “great resignation,” in which millions of workers, many of whom were millennials and Gen Z, quit their jobs. This situation has made it difficult for organizations to remain fully staffed.
While business leaders scramble to figure out how to repopulate their teams, I believe there is one solution that is being overlooked: using technologies that allow younger employees to do their jobs on their own terms, rather than forcing them to adapt to potentially outdated paradigms.
After all, millennials and Gen Z are the first fully digital demographics, and what might have taken previous cohorts weeks to do can now be accomplished in hours. This means that systems designed decades ago can create frustrations for younger employees who are accustomed to more efficient solutions.
One of the great promises of technology has always been that it will reduce work cycles and make everything easier. Many employees are now asking themselves why they need to chain themselves to a desk all week when they can do their jobs just as easily from their homes and not have to work nights and weekends. They have a point—and their point matters.
In the U.S., millennials have replaced baby boomers as the dominant demographic in the workplace. Millennials (and Gen Z) are in the driver’s seat, and companies ignore them at their peril. This is something I’m paying close attention to in the property industry, as I’ve been seeing a perfect storm of high demand from people under the age of 35 combined with a workforce that is squarely in the crosshairs of the “great resignation.” I believe there are a few ways organizations can leverage technology to support how people work and gain an advantage when it comes to hiring and retaining talent.
1. Consider automation.
The most profound way technology has affected the business world is the replacement of manual processes with automated ones. Today, just about any repeatable process can be designed and rolled out without requiring more than a few seconds of employee time.
One of the key advantages of automation is that it enables employees to work at their own pace and on their own schedules. Employees today are not going to want to work for companies that require them to log hours during evenings and weekends. Unfortunately, a lot of companies still require uneven work schedules because of demand. As such, consider automating the time-consuming processes in your business. Organizations that do so could make themselves more attractive to job seekers and show that they respect their time.
2. Go remote.
It’s hard to think of anything good that has come out of the pandemic, but one debate that has been settled once and for all is that remote work is possible. In fact, it only took a few weeks for American companies to completely pivot from their previous models to the “new normal,” in which most of us abruptly shifted from working in offices to working from our homes.
Now that we’ve seen remote work is possible, leaders need to factor that into how they hire and manage teams. For starters, they have a much larger pool of potential new hires because geography isn’t a factor. Not only does this give organizations an opportunity to look at candidates who wouldn’t have been in their potential “pool” a few years ago, but it also gives them a much better shot at meeting their diversity, equity and inclusion goals.
But once remote teams are up and running, companies need to give them the right tools for the job. That goes far beyond just having a videoconferencing account. Productivity platforms can also be implemented so work is as seamless as possible. If you are overwhelmed by the number of choices out there, poll your team members and find out what they want to use to get the job done. After all, they will be the ones using the new technologies, and their opinions matter.
3. Respect workers’ time.
Tech is supposed to make everything more efficient, but many organizations are still operating using older protocols and processes. In order to attract (and keep) employees, companies need to get out of their own way. They need to recognize that even their hardest working employees may begin prioritizing the work-life balance that businesses have talked about forever but haven’t actually gotten around to supporting.
Putting a foosball table in the break room doesn’t count. Companies need to realize that people aren’t going to sacrifice their evenings and weekends when it’s just as easy for them to get a job that does respect their time. This is extremely important when it comes to employee satisfaction, which is directly tied to hiring and retention. So what does this look like in the real world when people are working from their homes? After all, it can be difficult to draw a line between personal time and work time if both of them are taking place inside the same four walls.
One of the best ways is to create policies to discourage team members from assigning work or making requests outside of work hours. One of the most effective tools to do this is actually the simplest: encourage employees to use a “delay” setting on emails and task assignments so people aren’t receiving emails during their time off. Project management tools could also be useful for maintaining work-life balance because people can check their to-do lists during work hours, rather than getting bombarded by email requests 24/7.
This is especially important in organizations with employees distributed all around the world because it’s easy to forget about time zone differences when working with people in other countries.
There is no single magic formula that is going to give organizations the edge when it comes to hiring. There are simply too many variables at play, ranging from a soft economy to uncertainty over the future of remote work policies. But by implementing the right strategies, companies can give themselves a critical advantage in a tight job market.
SOURCE: Forbes Link