Georgiaanna W. Oliver is the founder of tour24the leading new product offering self-guided tours for apartments.
The pandemic that forced organizations to migrate to completely remote models was soon followed by the ‘great layoff’, which saw millions of workers, many of whom millennials and Gen Z, quit their jobs. This situation makes it difficult for organizations to remain fully staffed.
As business leaders struggle to figure out how to repopulate their teams, I believe one solution is being overlooked: using technologies that allow younger workers to do their jobs on their own terms, rather than forcing them to adapting to potentially outdated paradigms.
Millennials and Gen Z are, after all, the first all-digital demographics, and what could have taken previous cohorts weeks can now be accomplished in hours. This means that systems designed decades ago can cause frustration among younger workers who are used 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 now wonder why they have to chain themselves to a desk all week, when they can just as easily do their work from home and not have to work nights and weekends. They have a point – and their point is important.
In the US, millennials have replaced baby boomers as the dominant workplace demographics. Millennials (and Gen Z) are behind the wheel and companies ignore them at their peril. This is something I pay a lot of attention to in the real estate industry, as I’ve seen a perfect storm of high demand from people under 35, combined with a workforce that is squarely in the crosshairs of the ‘big layoff’. “I believe there are a few ways organizations can use technology to support the way people work and gain an advantage when it comes to hiring and retaining talent.
1. Think automation.
The most profound way technology has impacted the business world has been the replacement of manual processes with automated ones. Today, virtually any repeatable process can be designed and deployed without taking more than a few seconds of employee time.
One of the main benefits of automation is that it allows employees to work at their own pace and according to their own schedules. Employees today will no longer want to work for companies that have to log hours in the evenings and weekends. Unfortunately, due to demand, many companies still require unequal work schedules. Therefore, consider automating the time-consuming processes in your company. Organizations that do that can make themselves more attractive to job seekers and show that they respect their time.
2. Go away.
It’s hard to think of anything good that has come out of the pandemic, but one debate that has been resolved once and for all is that remote working is possible. In fact, it only took a few weeks for US companies to completely transition from their previous models to the “new normal,” in which most of us made an abrupt transition from working in offices to working from home.
Now that we’ve seen that remote working is possible, leaders need to factor that into the way 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 the opportunity to see candidates that wouldn’t have been in their potential ‘pool’ a few years ago, but it also gives them a much better chance of meeting their diversity, equality and inclusion goals. .
But once remote teams are up and running, companies need to give them the right tools for the job. That goes way beyond just having a video conferencing account. Productivity platforms can also be implemented so that work is as seamless as possible. If you’re overwhelmed by the number of choices out there, survey 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 opinion counts.
3. Respect the employees’ time.
Technology should make everything more efficient, but many organizations still work with older protocols and processes. To attract (and retain) employees, companies have to go their own way. They need to recognize that even their hardest-working employees may begin to prioritize work-life balance that companies are always talking about, but haven’t really gotten around to supporting.
Placing a table football game in the break room does not count. Companies need to realize that people don’t sacrifice their evenings and weekends when it’s just as easy for them to find a job that is doing respect their time. This is extremely important when it comes to employee satisfaction, which is directly related to recruitment and retention. So what does this look like in the real world when people work from home? After all, it can be difficult to draw a line between personal time and work time when both take place within 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 for doing this is actually the simplest: encourage employees to use a “delay” setting for emails and task assignments so that people don’t receive emails during their free time. Project management tools can also be useful for maintaining work-life balance, as people can check their to-do lists during work hours, rather than being bombarded with email requests 24/7.
This is especially important in organizations with employees around the world, because it’s easy to forget about time zone differences when working with people in other countries.
There is no magic formula that will give organizations an edge when it comes to hiring. There are simply too many variables at play, ranging from a weak economy to uncertainty about the future of remote work policies. But by implementing the right strategies, companies can give themselves a crucial advantage in a tight labor market.