Developing an employee-centric mindset isn’t just great for your staff â€“ it helps your business too. But just how do you develop an employee-centric mindset? Here are five practical steps that you can implement, writes Sam O’Brien, Director of Digital and Growth for EMEA at RingCentral.
We all know it’s essential to focus on customer needs, satisfaction, and experience. But it’s just as important to focus on your employees. Developing an employee-centric mindset isn’t just great for your staff â€“ it helps your business too. Happy employees are less likely to look for jobs elsewhere, more likely to perform better and provide better customer service.
Engaged employees perform better and in turn benefit company performance
Source: WellableOpens a new window
Ann Frey, a Corporate Leadership CoachOpens a new window , describes an employee-centric mindset as â€œcreat[ing] an environment where you honor your employees, where you take care of them, so they can take care of your customers.â€
How Do You Develop an Employee-Centric Mindset?
Here are five practical steps that you can implement.
1. Allow flexible and remote working
As technology improves, more companies have allowed for remote or flexible working. Online meetings are becoming the norm, and employees worldwide can collaborate on projects without having to travel.
Many businesses have concerns that employees who work from home might slack off or get distracted more easily. However, a recent study by AirtaskerOpens a new window found that employees who worked from home were more productive
Most employees find it easy to focus during the day both in office and remote
Source: AirtaskerOpens a new window
One major takeaway from this study is the impact of commutes on employee well-being. 1 in 4 employees stated they had quit a job over a long commute. Remote working removes the commute, in turn .
Many people think of remote working as a way to encourage employees to invest in experiences â€“ particularly global travel. Modern technology makes it easy to manage your files online and stay in touch, so there’s no need for staff to be in the same office, never mind the same country. However, that’s not its only benefit.
For many people, rigid working hours and a lengthy commute make it challenging to maintain a career. New parents, those with caregiving responsibilities, or those who can’t afford to live close to business hubs are often pushed. Remote working allows individuals to live anywhere, and flexible hours mean people can fit their jobs around existing responsibilities.
Remember, with remote and flexible working, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Hybrid methods of working â€“ for instance, working in the office three days a week and remotely for two â€“ are a great solution.
2. Accept â€“ and encourage â€“ individuality
You might have read the previous point and thought, â€œDon’t some people prefer being in the office?â€
You may well be right! Not every employee will have the same needs. You may be able to create a wholly remote marketing team but find your accounts department prefer in-office meetings. It’s the same with any aspect of work â€“ employees will have different communication methods, strategies of working, and priorities.
When trying to develop an employee-centric mindset, you need to avoid a â€œone size fits allâ€ approach. Instead, look at what is best for each team and each individual, and build your plan from there.
Let’s walk through an example regarding flexible working. You have two part-time employees, Lisa and James. Lisa is a young single mother who needs to drop off and pick up her children from childcare every day. James is an older professional who likes to travel and wants to have longer weekends.
Genuinely flexible working would allow both these employees to have their individual wishes met. Lisa could work between 9 and 3, five days a week (a total of 30 hours). James could work three ten-hour days midweek (also totaling 30 hours). They’ve both done the same number of hours for you â€“ but in carefully crafted, individual ways.
Parents find their commitment to their job questioned if they use family-friendly work arrangements
Of course, this sort of flexibility isn’t available in every industry, and you’ll have to work within the constraints of your business. However, having empathy with your employees and encouraging them to work in a way that suits them best can have great resultsOpens a new window .
Let’s take a look at another example, this time regarding communication methods. Rather than using the same strategies for every employee, it’s worth consulting with them to determine their
You may have a team member with anxiety who finds being called into one-on-one meetings incredibly stressful â€“ to the extent it impacts their work for the day. You can avoid this by communicating through email or text and laying out in advance what any in-person meetings may involve. Equally, you might have an employee who struggles to read tone in written communication and would benefit from phone calls instead.
By accepting and encouraging individuality, you can empower your staff to work their best.
3. Build a diverse team
An employee-centric mindset has to be just that: employee-centric. That means all employees. People of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are historically underrepresented in the corporate world. Even from a purely business-focused perspective, this is a huge mistake â€“ diverse companies have quantifiably better results.
Companies with more diverse leadership see greater innovation and revenue
Even in companies that work to actively combat discrimination, negligence can lead to homogenous workforces. While an employee referral program is a great way to find new team members, if it’s one of the only methods used, you’ll struggle to bring in a diverse workforce as it relies on the social circles of your existing staff.
It’s vital to cast a wide net when recruiting. The more job boards you’re on, and the more recruiters you speak to, the more likely you are to . If you find that you’re still not attracting a diverse workforce, then you may need to look at your company culture and make some changes.
Of course, hiring a diverse team isn’t enough. You need to retain that team. For instance, according to a report by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity CommissionOpens a new window (EEOC), over half of highly qualified women working in science, engineering, and technology companies quit their jobs. Reasons include:
- Lack of opportunities for advancement
- Hours and required travel conflicting with caring responsibilities
- Unequal treatment at work
- Inhospitable workplaces
To truly maintain a diverse, employee-focused workforce, you need to focus on culture, not just hiring practices.
4. Give your employees the right tools
You’d think this one would go without saying, but unfortunately not. It happens way too often where an employer expects a task to be completed without giving the employee the right tools. Around 40%Opens a new window of employees have left a role due to a lack of access to relevant digital tools. If you want to develop an employee-centric mindset, you need to preempt what is required.
An excellent place to start is with an all-in-one solution designed for general day-to-day tasks. Using an online productivity app can help employees keep on top of things and allow you to check in on their progress.
For one-off tasks, you may need specialist tools. This could be things like presentation software, graphic design suites, or automated software testing solutions. Where possible, you should research this ahead of time and make sure the software is ready for your employee to use. If you’re not sure what’s required, that’s fine! Sit down with your employee before assigning them the task and find out what they need to get the job done.
It’s not enough to provide the right tools, however. You also need to ensure your employees are comfortable using them. Providing on-the-job training for anything specific they need to use is a great way to boost employee engagement.
Did you know that 94%Opens a new window of employees will stay at a company longer if it invests in their learning? Implementing training alongside the right tools is a great way to prioritize your employees.
5. Communicate with your employees
Finally, it’s essential to communicate. Without clear communication, it’s impossible to know how your employees are feeling. Technology makes it possible to so there’s no excuse not to stay in touch.
Communication needs to go both ways. It’s not enough to make sure that you’re being heard clearly â€“ your team needs to know they’re being heard too. This clear line of communication needs to seep into all aspects of your business.
Weekly team meetings and monthly one-to-ones are great, but you can go further than that. Methods like agile project management are great ways to encourage engagement and flexibility. By building your whole business model around communication, you make every project feel collaborative and allow every team member to be heard.
Companies are likely to perform better when they offer good communication tools to employees
Key things to consider when developing your employee-centric communication strategy are transparency and frequency. Employees want to know what is going on with their company â€“ if they should never feel blindsided by large developments.
Equally, they appreciate regular contact. You might think you only need to tell them when important things are occurring, but many employees appreciate regular updates even when there’s no considerable news to share.
Trying to develop an employee-centric mindset isn’t an easy task. You may need to shake up some core aspects of your business, but the rewards are worth it. Spend time collecting and listening to employee feedback and find out where your weaknesses lie. An employee-centric mindset needs to start with employees, so focusing on what they value is the best place to start.