Scott Day, Chief People Officer of Corel shares his advice on how companies can make a 4-day working week a reality, without losing workforce productivity.
The Key Aspects of Building a People-First Atmosphere at Work
In the digital workplace, a great manager is as committed to honing their emotional intelligence as they are to measuring KPIs, driving team goals, or balancing a budget. In the past, some organisations may have considered these kinds of soft skills to be nice to have. But in today’s world, protecting your business’s greatest asset – your people – depends on it. People-first leaders need to ask themselves, “If you’re able to work from anywhere for any employer, what’s going to make you stay with our company?” This is one of the biggest challenges businesses face today, and as a result, being proactive is a critical difference-maker right now. Building immunity against The Great Resignation requires leaders who go out of their way to create environments where it is understood that their employees’ whole lives, time with friends and family, and true inclusion are not just supported, but celebrated.
Real Actions That Leaders Can Take
Talking about a people-first leadership style and why it’s so important is all well and good, but it can feel hollow without real changes. So, how do people leaders actually deliver upon the desires of their employees? First, managers need to take the time to develop their relational skills. Recognize the person behind the screen. Give people the flexibility to decide how they work best. These actions all acknowledge the reality that work is only one component of a fulfilling life. Even in virtual work, or maybe even more so, people crave human contact. Opportunities to connect and socialise, whether in person or online, must be frequent, deliberate, and prioritised. It doesn’t happen by accident.
Next, companies need to recognise that flexibility and being open to new ideas are key to keeping employees. We’re now seeing a huge push-back from workers whose employers expect them to return to the office. Why, after two years of proving that companies can operate remotely, are businesses risking upsetting their employees by forcing them back to their cubicles? Many savvy companies are realizing that remote work is a key differentiator for their business.
Beyond choosing where you work, people also want to control when they work, whether that’s flexible hours or the prospect of the four-day work week. For people-team leaders like myself, I know we’ll be watching the results of the four-day test runs in the UK and Spain to see how this new reality can play out in real life – reducing people’s working hours without a loss of productivity is an impressive goal. Regardless of the path your business chooses, it is critical to put flexibility first and let the individual guide their working life. No single solution will work for every company or every employee.
Great managers know that people perform better when they’re treated as whole humans with whole lives. With flexibility, freedom and relational skills at its core, this new way of working promises to provide a substantial upgrade to people’s work-life balance, and may resonate well with workers who are more inclined to ‘work to live,’ rather than ‘live to work.’ And while we can’t predict what exactly comes next, it’s exciting to see many of the fundamental aspects of work being revisited with fresh approaches.