With millions of people still working remotely, workplace culture has become nearly all digital for better or worse. Micro interactions at the water cooler, impromptu meetings at a colleague’s desk, or a birthday celebration in the breakroom just can’t happen without being in a physical office. While these interactions aren’t technically work-related all the time, they still contribute to making employees feel connected and valued, in addition to affecting a business’ overall workplace culture.
According to a recent study by PwCOpens a new window , 73% of the executives surveyed thought remote work had been a success overall, and 72% of those workers would like to continue working from home at least two days a week, solidifying the hybrid work model for the foreseeable future. However, in hybrid and remote work setups, it may be difficult for leadership teams to determine how their employees are really feeling, with most interactions being digital. How can leaders strive for a human-centric workplace and great company culture when they can’t see, listen, or engage with those in-person office interactions on a daily basis?
The Rise of Collaboration Platforms and the Generational Shift in the Workforce
It’s no surprise that collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack have exploded since the pandemic began, and the watercooler conversations have pivoted to 1:1 or small group private messages over these apps. The digital natives, which includes Gen Z and Millennials, continue to become a large part of the overall workforce. Unsurprisingly, these groups prefer using collaboration platforms like Slack for work (81%) versus 21% of older generations, according to a recent study by CitrixOpens a new window .
Whether we like it or not, employees will continue to adopt collaboration platforms more broadly, and it’s ultimately where conversations that shape the workplace will take place. Recent technology innovations are beginning to enable companies to anonymously pull insights from these types of conversations to determine employee sentiment on a day-to-day basis. As the workforce continues to skew to remote arrangements, this type of data analysis will become even more important to the way a business and culture operates. This makes it possible to understand the key topics and trends that are being discussed the most, how a new corporate initiative or policy is being perceived, listen to perspectives on social unrest, and know where employees are collaborating the most.Â
Understanding Your Employees in Real-time
An important aspect of creating a human-centric workplace is the ability to constantly be aware of employee sentiment and satisfaction. Without a real-time pulse of how your employees are feeling, how can leaders make proper business decisions to ensure teams feel valued and heard?Â
Let’s say your leadership team rolls out a new corporate initiative over a virtual town hall and issues an employee survey the following week. Response rates for these types of surveys are minimal at best and often do not represent how an employee really feels during the time they take the survey. However, with real-time organizational insights derived from anonymized messages shared right after the initiative is announced, leadership would garner a much more authentic reaction from employees. Uncovering the true voice of the employee and knowing exactly how they feel about corporate initiatives is critical to creating a workplace culture that everyone is aligned with.
Using AI and ML To Identify Toxic Behaviors
Another important part of creating a human-centric workplace is to make your employees feel included, safe, and heard, which has been a priority for businesses during the pandemic. Even though employee interactions are taking place mostly online nowadays, it doesn’t mean workplace bullying or toxic behavior was eliminated. In fact, it is more likely to happen on collaboration platforms which tend to be more casual and candid in nature versus traditional email.
A recent study has shown that, on average, 1 in 190 private messages are negative, but this is greatly overshadowed by 1 in 5 private messages that are positive. However, just a handful of toxic messages can have a much greater impact on other employees and the business as a whole. Leadership must leverage organizational insights from collaboration platforms using artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify patterns of toxicity and mitigate them before they spread to other parts of the business. According to a study by SHRMOpens a new window , nearly 1 in 5 people have left their job in the past five years, with toxic culture being the main reason. If toxic language can be identified and addressed in collaboration platforms before it’s too late, companies may have an easier time retaining talent, which has especially been critical during The Great Resignation and worker shortage that will continue over the next several months.
Bridging the Disconnect Between Leadership and Employees
â€œTone-deafâ€ is the last way you want to hear how your leadership team is described by your employees. Just in the past year, there have been many missteps by the c-suite not truly listening to their employees, ranging from inauthentic initiatives to out-of-touch marketing activations surrounding the pandemic and social unrest. However, with collaboration insights being extracted from employees at all levels, these types of missteps could potentially be identified before escalating too quickly, giving leadership teams a truly unfiltered look and perspective on the conversations across the organization.Â
The future of work will continue to evolve, and business leaders must leverage the proper tools and technologies to best connect with their employees for a true human-centric workplace.