As we wrap up this first year of 2023, it's time to think through how your reflections on 2022 will transform into your goals in 2023. As a leader, I urge you to consider the role these three important areas will play in your goals.
For the best leaders and teams, workplace flexibility is never a problem. The best leaders set and articulate clear expectations, typically in cooperation and collaboration with their team. These expectations provide the framework that allows the employee to decide where their work is best performed.
Sadly, the poorest leaders often wield workplace flexibility like a carrot/stick tool rather than as a standard part of employee expectations today. Post COVID in the white collar sectors that I work with, where direct face-to-face customer support is not an expectation and teams have normed their performance to succeed in digital environments, workplace flexibility should be an expectation.
For the leader coming into 2023 three specific keys should be considered regarding workplace flexibility:
Are your leaders enabled with the skills they need to lead workers in a flexible environment - one that is not fully remote and not fully traditional?
Have you updated job descriptions and recruitment pages with an accurate description of flexibility available in your environment?
Have you evaluated the use of workplace flexibility in your organization to ensure there are no inequities in application of policies and procedures?
Job Pathways and Growth
A coaching client I work with from time to time brought me a classic challenge - a new role was created in their organization that has a job description with duplicative roles to some of the roles in my client's job description. To make this classic problem worse, another colleague in my client's office also has job roles that are duplicated in this new job description. And, to make this even worse, the new job role is a supervisory role to both of these positions and has lower educational and skill requirements than either of the two incumbent positions.
I call this a classic problem because particularly in large complex organizations that have gone through multiple acquisitions, mergers, and/or changes in organization this problem is common unless human resources leadership has consistently taken an active role in ensuring that new roles are created in a logical manner.
This is frustrating enough to my client and her colleague who - whether intentional or not - are getting a message that their education and experience is not valued in the leadership of this team. These two individuals are certainly not new to the workforce. However, as Gen Z graduates from college and joins our organizations, they want clear job pathways and growth opportunities. This kind of classical haphazard approach to job roles is not going to meet the needs of this new generation.
Here are three things you can do to take a considered look at - and more importantly - address issues in your employee job roles:
Review the job roles in your team and identify any duplication of responsibilities. Where duplication exists, explicitly document the specific activities of each role.
Ensure your organization has clearly delineated responsibilities typically assigned by job classification/level.
Map the pathways for new hires into your organization. Create visual representations that show the pathways and requirements to move along the pathways in your organization.
Each of these two elements play roles in the mental health of employees - which contributes to the overall health of your organization. According to APA's 2022 Work and Well-being survey, 81% of workers will consider available mental health support when deciding on jobs to take. This correlates with the fact that 84% of respondents said that their workplace contributed to at least one mental health challenge.
The U.S. Surgeon General recently released a comprehensive report outlining five steps - centered on worker voice and equity - needed to make our workplaces better for the mental health of all of our employees. Those five steps - again centered on Worker Voice and Equity - are:
Protection from Harm
Opportunity for Growth
Mattering at Work
Connection & Community
The Surgeon General Report contains this image that summarizes these themes.
Here are three things to consider to improve the opportunities for your employees to enjoy positive mental health in your organization:
Review the Surgeon General Report. Inventory existing programs and services against the surgeon general's report. Identify areas where no policies, practices, and/or programs exist.
Assess how you engage employees routinely and regularly. In an organization centered on worker voice and equity there are regular and routine employee communication loops that everyone expects and understands. Where these don't exist, engage employees to identify what would work best and start with 90 day experiments to test and evaluate how these new tools and/or procedures work.
Address the previous two issues in meaningful ways as both of these play roles in these five areas.
As you begin 2023, what other areas are on your leadership radar?