How Effective Meetings & Collaboration Can Help You Retain Employees
In this article
The Great Resignation is an ongoing after-effect of the pandemic currently plaguing organizations, with employees leaving their jobs in record numbers. A 2021 Gallup poll concluded that the reason so many workers were leaving or actively looking for new jobs was not so much an industry, role or pay issue, but a workplace issue.(1) In short, the shift to remote workforce during the pandemic ignited people's desire to have more control over how, when and where they do their jobs.(2)
As organizations struggle to retain their people, they have had to rethink the value they offer employees, especially when it comes to hybrid work or working from anywhere. While most organizations recognize that they need to provide more flexibility, many have not been able to effectively address the issue.(3) Yet.
The positive news is that novel approaches and innovative technologies have emerged to help organizations sculpt hybrid work models that offer employees more of what they want. Employee experience matters more than ever before(4)–and, with the rise of tools enabling hybrid work, IT can make a bigger impact.
Here are some of the most important actions you can take to ensure the success of your hybrid workforce.
Adopt an employee-centric, "dynamic persona"-first model
The first and most basic decision of hybrid work is who should be allowed to work from where, and how often. Many organizations start with traditional workforce personas, applying different approaches for marketing and engineering, for example.
To be successful, you have to go much deeper. WWT uses a model that considers several other attributes and characteristics to build "dynamic personas" that balance employee needs, organizational objectives and technology requirements. These personas are built using information from job descriptions, employee interviews, work style and hours, geographic location, institutional knowledge, historical IT data, security requirements, applications and licensing and support needs. They help you easily identify who is best suited to work in the office or remotely, based on their workflows, preferences and processes rather than their titles or false assumptions.
A dynamic persona-based approach will help you quickly decide how to distribute your workforce most effectively and create a strategic plan for your hybrid office.(5) It also allows employees to be a major driver of the process, which leads to engagement and retention. It gives them a seat at the table and ensures that they are heard. In the event that you can not offer them what they want, they will understand how the decisions were reached and see that the organization is trying to fairly institute the new model based on detailed criteria, not arbitrary whim.
Another benefit of dynamic personas is that they can help you drive successful digital transformation by aligning end-user needs, technology requirements and organizational objectives.(6)
If you don't have the expertise or time to do it yourself, engage a partner with experience developing a deep personas model. Make sure they listen and understand the outcomes you need.
Recognize it's not about how people interact at work, but how they feel
The pandemic has caused people to redefine the role of work in their lives. Now, employee experience should center on people and their lives, as opposed to employees and their worklives.(2)
To address the new ground rules of employee value, IT has joined forces with other groups, including HR, experience, collaboration, facilities and real estate.
Just as cybersecurity once accelerated IT's seat at the table, the pandemic and the Great Resignation has highlighted the importance of HR to the organization's success,(7) and created new alliances among functions and lines of business to find ways to manage the issue, from new approaches to emerging technologies that provide employees with what they need.
Although organizations initially did not consider real estate or facilities when employees began to come back to the office (other than if they needed as much space), organizations soon realized that they have to give people a good reason for coming back to the office. Figuring out the reason is the trick, as it varies based on considerations like age, type of worker, how you work. Personas help you find different ways to bring each different group back.
In fact, personas are a great structure for all of the relevant groups involved to think about how they will address the needs of each persona from their unique perspective.
Allow people to choose, if possible
The reality today is that many workers will leave if their employers don't allow them to choose where they work, at least part of the time. Organizations can no longer assume that the office is somewhere people absolutely need to go to collaborate, and expect that their employees will happily go along with it.
This shift may not be an easy one. In fact, Forrester predicted that in 2022, 30% of companies would insist on a traditional in-office model, and as a result will experience attrition well beyond industry averages (up to 2.5%) until they give in and allow hybrid work.(8) The bottom line is, if you can offer employees the choice, you will be well-served to do so, to ensure the highest possible engagement and retention.
Unfortunately, many employers will not be able to offer everyone the choice to work from anywhere even part of the time, if the fundamental nature of their work requires them to be onsite. Some examples include frontline workers in retail, manufacturing, utilities, hospitality, logistics and many other industries.
If your organization can't offer this option to everyone, make your decisions in a way that is equitable and transparent. Using a framework like the WWT Dynamic Persona Model to guide your management decisions–and communicating openly about it–will help your people understand and feel a sense of fairness so they are less likely to become disgruntled.
Give people the tools they need
People can successfully work from anywhere, given the right tools. But remember that doesn't necessarily mean they need more tools– too many ways to connect or reach someone often leads to confusion. It's important to first streamline the toolset and simplify the experience.
In choosing the right products, consider fit-for-purpose tools for employees, such as Room Solutions from Poly. If you don't have the time, desire or ability to set up tools or customize them to your employees' needs, find a partner who can help you. WWT, for example, recommends, sells and pre-configures fit-for-purpose tools so they are ready from first power on, saving organizations time, inconvenience and money–and helping to drive adoption.
Training can also help you ensure a successful adoption. Be sure to train not only IT, but also employees; many tools fail or are underutilized for lack of good basic training.
Create meeting equity
Forrester recently predicted that while 60% of companies would adopt hybrid workforce models, a third of those would fail for one simple reason: they would continue to design meetings, job roles and promotion opportunities around face-to-face experiences.(8)
To be truly effective with a hybrid workforce, organizations need to create parity between people who work from anywhere and those who work in the office. Being seen equals equity in the workforce, so it makes sense that meeting equity means being heard with greater clarity and seen with more importance than a remote worker often is, in relation to people who are "in the room." And remote workers also need to actually see all of the people in the room; no more bowling alley!
Certain tools and technologies can now level the playing field no matter where you work, with recently-gained wisdom. The video and audio capabilities we were forced to use during the pandemic can now be managed and controlled to drive meeting equity. As an example, Poly tools provide a clear, interactive experience and equivalent presence for all attendees, whether they are physically present or remote.
Develop true interoperability
Too many meetings start with participants struggling to join. It's not surprising, with so many platforms in the mix. It would not be unusual for an organization to be on Cisco Webex, while their clients send MS Teams meeting invitations, and their vendors use Zoom, Google Meet, or a variety of others.
In fact, 90% of Fortune 500 companies have multiple platforms.(9) Many of them still want to standardize on fewer tools, but the idea of signing off on one provider for 3-5 years is daunting. What they really need are flexible solutions that enable their employees to easily and effectively use all the big platforms.
As they consider their options, employers are also rethinking real estate and facilities. Now that they've acquired all these cloud-based solutions, many realize they have a great opportunity to "put less on the desk." They envision employees coming into a room or the office, just plugging into a USB and having access to numerous solutions. Instead of having to choose between Microsoft Teams rooms or Zoom rooms, for example, imagine having a Poly room kit installed that enables seamless meetings for either, or both.
The ultimate dream is true interoperability–the ability to join any meeting from any device anywhere, no matter the platform, within a single interface for a simple, streamlined experience.(10)
This "one button to push" experience is no longer a pipedream; in fact, WWT has created it for numerous organizations, providing design to make the experience simple for users, configuration, middleware and installation of solutions that incorporate fit-for-purpose tools such as Poly video endpoints. The result is that no matter which video endpoint is in the room, or which meeting platform is used to host the meeting, the experience is simple AND the same.
With this type of full interoperability, frictionless meetings can become a reality in your organization.
Monitor and optimize usage
Analytics can help you maximize the ROI on your tech investment by giving you actionable insights on the security, performance and utilization of the tools you've put into place to support hybrid work.
Analytics should cover three basic areas. Using Vyopta as an example, here are some common analytics we track.
1. Monitor Performance.
To ensure your solutions are performing as well as you want them to, use analytics to track the performance of infrastructure, key metrics for hardware and software of your endpoints and real-time and historic utilization.
2. Improve experience.
Certain analytics will help you improve the user experience. These include alerts on any issues, call quality analytics and real-time monitoring (only available with Poly).
3. Track Adoption.
Use analytics to determine how your technologies are being utilized so you can provide insights that help IT and HR identify:
- Which departments, teams or business units are utilizing the apps, so you can see which ones need more training to fully utilize the collaboration tools you've made available.
Tap WWT's Adoption Services team for training programs that help each employee fully realize the power of collaboration.
- When, how and how often collab and meeting tools are being used ( i.e. are they using meetings with video endpoints only, meetings with screen share, meeting with whiteboard or meetings with integrated apps for brainstorming) so you can maximize or right-size the number of licenses or your enterprise agreements.
- Which meeting rooms are rarely used, so you can prioritize which video endpoints need to be updated; which others can be retired, such as equipment that isn't being used in the "empty" floors or buildings; or if you should move the best or most current equipment to huddle spaces or meeting rooms that are used most frequently.
By taking the above steps, you will be able to design a hybrid work model that can help create the kind of employee experience that will entice your people to stay with your organization throughout the Great Resignation and beyond.
About the authors
Tim Cappel is a Technical Solutions Architect in World Wide Technology's Digital Workspace practice. Tim has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years, with a focus on collaboration and unified communications. Currently, Tim provides technical advisory design and engineering support globally for WWT's customers. Tim contributes frequently to WWT's Advanced Technology Center to create videos and lab environments that demonstrate the capabilities, technical configuration options of technology from leading collaboration hardware and software technology companies.
Wayne Winholt joined Poly in March 2021 as Global Head of Video Sales Acceleration & GTM. He worked at numerous companies in the past 30 years focused on collaboration solution sales. Wayne engaged in video sales dating back to the PictureTel days in the early 1990's. Poly acquired PictureTel in 2001. Wayne presently focuses on hybrid work and the future of post pandemic work styles related to video solutions. Identifying the types of work and where work occurs will lead to the tools necessary to provide equal, professional experiences wherever you work.
- The 'Great Resignation' Is Really the 'Great Discontent', Gallup.com, July 2021.
- Employee Value Proposition (EVP) Postpandemic Should Focus on the Why, Gartner, May 2021.
- Flexibility or Flight: Hybrid Strategies to Attract and Retain Talent," Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp.com), March 2022.
- Digital Employee Experience 101: What Is DEX and Why Is It Important? - WWT
- The Importance of Dynamic Personas in a Hybrid Work Strategy - WWT
- How Dynamic Persona Modeling Enables Digital Transformation - WWT
- Reimagining HR: Insights from people leaders | McKinsey March 2022.
- https://www.forrester.com/predictions/ 2022.
- UCToday. July 2020.