Business Transformation

What do employees want? This is the future of work

Can you believe it was over two years ago that many of us bade farewell to the office, turned loungewear into everyday fashion, panic-bought toilet paper, and fired up our ovens for home baking projects? Now, in a post-pandemic world, companies are continuing to fine-tune what the new normal looks like for them; many are opting to maintain a hybrid work environment indefinitely. They’re all grappling with questions that seem to lack straightforward answers: what is it that employees of today really want? And what does the future of work look like?

In 2021, Zoom partnered with Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey) to find out how workers felt about hybrid work. They repeated the survey in 2022 to see how those opinions had evolved. The 2022 report released by Momentive included data from a national sample of 4,912 adults, who were selected from the more than two million people who take surveys on the Momentive platform each day. Data were weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States aged 18 and over. The results were then compared to those from a similar survey conducted in 2021.

Perhaps the most insightful finding from the survey is that people desire the autonomy to choose where they work, and many are unafraid to leave jobs with strict location requirements. The finding highlights the prerogative of organizations to fully support hybrid work with resources and initiatives that enable teams to collaborative productively.

Where do knowledge workers want to work?

Interestingly, more employees would prefer to work full time from the office in 2022 (38%) than in 2021 (20%). More would also prefer to work fully from home (19% in 2022, vs 15% in 2021). Of those already working remotely, 28% said they would prefer to stay remote, up from 15% in 2021. What’s clear from these data is that more employees know what they want, since the hybrid options of working mostly from the office and working mostly from home decreased by 13% and 12% respectively, in favor of the fully on- or off-site options.

What influences the choice of work environment?

When asked about their ideal work environment—remote, on-site, or hybrid—some workers tend to choose the work environment that their colleagues are choosing:

  • 64% of workers whose colleagues are working remotely full-time say they would also like to work from home
  • 48% of workers whose colleagues are working on-site full-time say they would also like to work from the office

Employee choice is paramount

Regardless of preferred work settings and styles, Momentive’s report demonstrates that employees would like to have the option—69% of respondents said they want to be able to decide where and how they work. Of those already working remotely, 85% said it’s essential for their employers to let them choose where they work. 

And what if they are not allowed to work in their preferred locations? Almost half (45%) of workers said they would likely look for a new job, a number that jumps to 55% for those already working from home.

How would they like to attend meetings? 

Those who have been working remotely would prefer to attend most meeting types remotely. However, there are some exceptions: 

  • Meeting one-on-one with people you supervise
  • Meeting new clients or customers
  • Team bonding activities
  • Interviewing job candidates

Training resources are crucial 

When preparing employees in hybrid or remote environments, access to resources and technology for training and development is essential for employee and company success. In the survey, 42% of respondents said they’d received training or educational materials on how to work in hybrid or remote environments. From our experience, we feel that this number should be higher, and that every company should prioritize employee training to prepare them for the new way of working. 

One of our clients, a large pharmaceutical company, was navigating the new hybrid working environment with a mix of on-site and remote working arrangements. The client needed to prepare leaders to address common challenges, lead hybrid teams effectively, and avoid proximity bias.

To help them achieve this, we used Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform to produce two robust simulations made up of a total of twelve of the most likely dilemmas that leaders would face, including issues such as:

  • Ensuring equality of opportunities and information
  • Preventing proximity bias 
  • Dilemmas that may arise and how to fix them
  • Giving feedback
  • Monitoring performance when you’re not working in the same place
  • Concerns individuals were likely to have about their work arrangements

The participant response to the immersive and collaborative learning experience has been overwhelmingly positive. The client continues to use the simulations we developed to enhance their hybrid working environment dynamics. 

Empower your workforce as the world of work transforms

As the world of work continues to evolve in 2022 and beyond, organizations will need to decide how to support their employees and customers. One of the best ways of doing this is to provide opportunities for training and development that equips leaders and employees with the skills they need to navigate the dynamic work environment. 

Get in touch with the Blueline Simulations team to learn more about how we can help your organization become future-fit for the new world of work. 

New Leadership Standards for the Future of Work

Introducing new leadership standards and employee behaviors to support the future of work

The pandemic has led to unprecedented changes in the world of work. The skills required for many jobs are changing, and people are rethinking how, where, and why they work. These changes necessitate the introduction of new leadership standards and employee behaviors to support organizational sustainability in a post-covid future. 

In this blog post, we look at some of the challenges today’s leaders face, and how we’ve supported our clients’ needs with team-based learning solutions that help power the future of work. 

Enhancing hybrid working dynamics

One of the biggest demands on leaders is to manage the way remote working has transformed the ways teams innovate, communicate, collaborate, and build relationships. With workers split across virtual and physical spaces, not to mention time zones, leaders need to come up with new ways to build inclusive and connected teams.

One of our clients, a Fortune 150 pharmaceutical company, looked to Blueline for help navigating the new hybrid working environment and defining the future of work. The client needed to prepare leaders to address common challenges, lead hybrid teams effectively, and avoid proximity bias.

Based on insights uncovered through interviews with key stakeholders, we used Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform to produce two robust simulations made up of a total of twelve of the most likely dilemmas that leaders would face, including:

  • Leading teams in the hybrid workplace
  • Ensuring equality of opportunities and information
  • Preventing proximity bias
  • Giving feedback
  • Monitoring performance across physical locations 
  • Concerns from individuals about remote and hybrid work
  • Monitoring team health and members’ wellbeing

By exploring best practices and collaboratively coming up with solutions to these problems in a real-world context, leaders were able to learn to be productive and efficient leading in the new hybrid environment by ensuring fairness and equality in work, development, and career opportunities. The participant response to the immersive and collaborative learning experience was overwhelmingly positive, and the client continues to use the simulations we developed to help leaders prepare for and embrace this new way of working. 

Strengthening company culture 

Culture is critically important to company success; those with more effective and defined cultures realize multiple benefits, such as employee satisfaction, retention, and even revenue growth. But as the workforce became more geographically dispersed, many leaders became concerned about creating and maintaining a company culture across physical distances. Today’s leaders need to continue to foster and nurture company culture, but they need to do so while people are working in multiple places. 

We helped one of the world’s best-known consumer brands transform its culture by ensuring employees at all levels understood and could apply new expectations of leadership standards and employee behaviors. The company had communicated and reinforced the core behaviors and leadership standards the year before, so people knew about the new vision, mission, and behaviors. However, they often struggled to connect these concepts to their daily work. 

Blueline’s goal was to put the company’s vision, mission, values, and behaviors in the context of each individual’s job role, and to help leaders demonstrate the new leadership standards. 

To achieve these objectives, we created two workshops that leveraged a combination of our BlueprintTM learning visuals and our ExperienceBUILDER simulations. The first workshop (for all employees) focused on exploring the company’s vision, values, and behaviors by using a learning visual as a launch pad that invited employees to go on a metaphorical journey. The second workshop was designed specifically for leaders, who needed to be equipped to lead by the key principles and reinforce desired behaviors. The workshop consisted of two parts: a learning visual that invited leaders to explore the new leadership standards, followed by an ExperienceBUILDER simulation in which participants explored ways to apply what they had just learned to the specific challenges they would likely face in the transforming organization.

The program successfully helped to reinforce the company’s culture in a practical way. Leaders assess themselves on their proficiency with the new knowledge and skills before and after the training. Their scores jumped from 51% pre-training to 99% post-training with 91% of leaders stating that they would recommend the program to their peers. 

Key to the success of culture transformation initiatives is the ability to deliver them effectively in a hybrid work environment. Blueline’s team-based, immersive learning experiences are equipped to do just that. In fact, the need to deliver scenario simulations to a hybrid workforce was one inspiration for ExperienceBUILDER, which delivers highly immersive and engaging synchronous learning experiences to teams of learners, regardless of physical location. 

The need for softer skills 

Specialized interpersonal skills will be in high demand in the new hybrid workplace, where on-site interactions are becoming less frequent. The pandemic also highlighted the importance of employees’ mental wellbeing, and training for empathy has taken on a new level of meaning and priority. Empathy training has been proven to drive significant business results through a positive impact on employee motivation, innovation, and retention. Leaders in a post-pandemic working world must be able to empathize with their colleagues to be successful.

Our clients have seen significant improvements in empathy development using our immersive, discovery-based approach. Our ExperienceBUILDER simulations help guide individuals into meaningful conversations, resolve complex interpersonal issues, uncover biases and prejudice, and improve inclusion efforts, all of which are essential to ensuring empathy stays at the forefront in the future of work.

Seize the opportunity to define the future of work

By changing their mindsets, listening to their people, and using different tools and technologies, leaders can create a brighter and more positive future of work in the world of hybrid teams. Contact the Blueline Simulations team to learn more about how we can help. 

Addressing Talent Challenges Through a Comprehensive Approach

Transform to Retain: Addressing today’s talent challenges through a comprehensive approach to career planning, performance management, compensation, and skill development

Over the last year, the Great Resignation has left companies reeling from talent challenges, with 4.3 million employees leaving their jobs in January of 2022. The talent market has become wildly competitive, so how do organizations of today attract, engage, and retain valuable employees? 

Employers are all too familiar with the costs of replacing an employee. Along with the cost of recruiting and training new employees, high workforce turnover also harms workforce morale, and the customer experience. On the other hand, more and more employers are realizing that an engaged, satisfied workforce presents a significant competitive advantage. Engaged and committed employers are not only less likely to leave, but they also perform better, are more satisfied in their roles, and are more productive.

The organizations currently succeeding in this area have a key common trait: an integrated, transparent approach to career planning, performance management, compensation, and skill development.  

Why are employees leaving? 

A new Pew Research Center survey identified the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs last year: 

  1. Low pay (63%)
  2. No opportunities for advancement (63%)
  3. Feeling disrespected at work (57%)

It’s interesting to note that a lack of opportunities for advancement is weighted equally with low pay. Although remuneration is important, it’s only one aspect of the employee experience. Those who quit their jobs in 2021 and are now employed elsewhere have seen some improvement in their current work situation compared with their previous jobs: 

  • Earning more money (56%)
  • More opportunities for advancement (53%)
  • An easier time balancing work and family responsibilities (53%)
  • More flexibility with regards to work hours (50%)

What these numbers show us is that employees are not assets or resources—they are human beings. They want more than a high salary. They want a company culture that supports them, and a career with purpose and prospects. That’s why the ideal employee experience focuses on the whole individual: mental and physical health, along with aspirations for professional growth and development. 

A recent Gallup study found that more than half of workers in the U.S want to upgrade their skills, and 65% of workers refer to employer-provided upskilling when evaluating a potential new job. At all levels of the organization, training and employee engagement go hand in hand, and engagement is closely linked to retention. 

Business transformation initiatives simply can’t afford to fail 

In today’s competitive talent landscape, business transformation needs to take a people-centered approach to create sustainable change, which requires buy-in from employees at all levels. Some are even referring to this time in our history as the People Revolution. Business leaders need to adopt changes that avoid employee burnout, improve employee engagement, and minimize turnover. Failure to do so could be disastrous in organizations dealing with a toxic work culture.

It’s no small task for leaders to engage their teams and gain employee buy-in to the transformation effort. Further, organizations undergoing a transformation will frequently introduce new leader attributes or behaviors, some of which require significant adjustments to past behaviors. Leaders require a clear understanding of the things they’re accountable for, as well as the skills they need to develop in themselves and their teams. Training can offer strong support and help leaders feel confident in this process, and also help to cultivate a learning culture where employees at all levels have a growth-oriented mindset.

Create growth opportunities at all levels of the organization

As studies (and our own experience) suggest, most employees want to grow and evolve along their career paths, opening opportunities to both earn more and expand their skill sets. Blueline’s training and communication tools can facilitate your organization’s transformation to an integrated, transparent approach to career planning, performance management, compensation, and skill development. We can help your organization to become a preferred employer by investing in your people, making growth part of the culture, and enhancing employee engagement. 

Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn more about our learning solutions, and ways to overcome talent challanges.

How democratizing data drives business value 

Organizations worldwide are trying to make more effective use of data, analytics, and AI, but many continue to struggle to adopt a data-driven culture. A survey of large U.S. firms conducted by NewVantage Partners found that 92.1% of companies say they are achieving returns on their data and AI investments (a marked increase from 48.1% in 2017). Yet, only 26.5% have created a data-driven organization, and only 19.3% have established a data culture. The greatest barrier to organizations becoming data-driven? Ninety-two percent of survey respondents identified cultural impediments as their most pressing challenge. 

So, how do we continue to find, capture, and analyze data while also making it accessible to the people who need it to make decisions quickly and effectively? The answer lies in data democratization

Creating an internal data-driven culture necessitates data democratization—the ongoing process of empowering all employees to have an easy way to access, understand, and apply data to expedite informed decision-making, uncover opportunities, and build customer experiences powered by that data. The ultimate goal is to allow the employees closest to the decision to use data effectively without any barriers to access or understanding. By knowing where your data is and making sure people can understand it, your organization will be better equipped to scale and deliver value through empowerment. 

Do we need a team of data scientists in order to democratize data? 

Many organizations begin their data science journeys by hiring data scientists to analyze big data sets. Naturally, a data scientist brings a wealth of specialist expertise and value (along with a hefty price tag). However, truly transformational data science is democratized data science. Restricting data science to experts only limits its potential, and does little to create a widespread data-driven culture. On the other hand, democratizing data provides significant opportunities for better insight and implementation. Not only do employees already understand the business and its challenges, but involving them in data science transformation encourages them to engage with the data and buy-in to its benefits. 

How to democratize data in your organization 

The idea of an organization-wide data science transformation may sound overwhelming, but there are some simple ways to start. One of these is using simulations to develop your employees’ comfort level with data analysis. 

The CEO of a large bio-sciences company we work with announced an initiative to make data accessible to everyone in the organization in order to improve the speed and quality of decision-making at all levels. To accomplish this, they needed to figure out how to provide usable data and meaningful analytical skills to decision-makers at all levels of the business. 

Their first steps were to begin building self-service data portals and to make basic data-literacy programs accessible to all employees. Subsequently, they partnered with our team to create a series of simulations. These were tailored to each business function to develop the skills and confidence of employees at all levels to use data to enhance decision-making. These simulations were designed and delivered through Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design platform

These custom learning simulations created a safe space for employees to learn to apply data analytics by working through real-life scenarios. Learners were tasked with identifying the problem or question, finding the right data source, analyzing that data, and making a good data-based decision.

It’s important to acknowledge that there can be gray areas in data interpretation and decision-making. Despite having access to data sources to inform decision-making, finding the best possible solution may not be clear-cut. Access to data moves us forward in the quality of decision making, but it’s still a mix of art and science. The power of ExperienceBUILDER simulations is that they model complex challenges with multiple feasible solutions—where right and wrong are often gray. In ExperienceBUILDER’s collaborative, team-driven learning environment, selecting the best answers often requires meaningful dialog and deep dives into data interpretation best practices: 

  • Are we answering the right question?
  • Are we getting the right data source to answer that question? 
  • When we choose the right data source, are we analyzing it correctly to have the best chance of making the right business decision?
  • Are we ignoring outside influences on the datasets?

Teasing out the best possible answers helps employees develop their data-driven decision-making skills. 

Data science is for everyone 

Data science is about people. Rather than requiring highly paid data scientists to do it all, organizations that strategically and broadly bring people and data together are likely to realize better results. 

Blueline Simulations has first-hand experience designing simulations that help your employees make the most of your data. Reach out to Blueline to learn more about how we can help you develop your team’s data-driven decision-making. 

Key success factors for workforce transformation 

Increasing labor market volatility, changing employee and customer expectations, rising wage costs and inflation, and other modern challenges sparked by the pandemic are driving organizations across the world to adapt with workforce transformation. Business leaders of today are focusing on and accelerating business value through new products and services, innovation, automation, talent acquisition, and upskilling. 

This workforce transformation is inevitable (and indeed necessary). So, how do organizations gain their people’s buy-in to change initiatives? And how do business leaders ensure that their teams are prepared for transformative success? 

Trends in transformation 

Vaco’s Trends in Transformation survey asked 160 North American business leaders about their top transformation goals for 2022. In order of importance, their priorities were: 

  1. Pursuing digital and technology advances
  2. Increasing shared services and outsourcing for cost-reduction
  3. Implementing automation and process improvements to financial reporting
  4. Ensuring a more engaged leadership to fuel success
  5. Investing in talent

No matter your organization’s workforce transformation aims, successful and sustainable transformation is dependent on your employees’ alignment and engagement with any change initiatives. 

In this article, we look at some key success factors to prepare employees for workforce transformation and new ways of working. 

Set your leaders and managers up for success

The Trends in Transformation survey identified engaged leadership as a critical factor in successful transformation in 2022, with almost half (46%) of respondents naming engaged leadership as the most important focus area. 

New models of work bring new challenges to leaders and managers, including how to build, manage, and engage employees in a distributed workforce, while preventing issues such as proximity bias. Managers need to be equipped with technology, training, tools, and resources to help them manage change effectively. The following three tips are particularly helpful in any transformation initiative:

1. Remain flexible in creating new models of work

The challenge of finding new ways of working can become a catalyst for meaningful business advancement. That’s why workplace transformation is never fully complete. When determining new working models, business leaders need to remain flexible and open to further opportunities for positive change. 

2. Consider all levels of the organization 

When identifying critical issues during workplace transformation, it’s vital to become attuned to the challenges faced at every level of the organization. In many companies, lower tiers of workers experience pain points most acutely, so it’s important to adopt a bottom-up approach when implementing new processes and systems.

3. Create a culture of choice 

The past two years have compelled employers to redefine the employee experience and build a workplace that values and considers employees’ needs. A company’s productivity depends on its employees, and today’s organizations are realizing the need to focus on employee flexibility, wellbeing, and human connection. An effective workspace transformation is ultimately about crafting a model that fits both the needs of the organization and the needs of its employees.

A poll conducted in 2022 by Momentive and Zoom found that most employees value choice in the workplace. For example, 69% of workers say it’s important for them to be able to choose whether they work on-site, remotely, or a hybrid model—this number jumps to 85% among workers who are currently doing all or some of their job from home. To create a culture of choice, organizations need to adopt agile working policies and provide flexibility and equal opportunities for their employees. 

Other features of an employee-centric corporate culture of choice include allowing employees to make suggestions freely, and encouraging them to express themselves through open communication.

Actively discover and address ongoing needs 

As the Great Resignation accelerates, it’s critical for leaders to proactively reach out to all employees more frequently, provide empathy and support, and address internal and external challenges as the organization navigates workforce transformation. 

The needs of employees as they adapt to the modern workplace will be unique to each business. Organizations need to discover and address the professional and personal needs of their employees during a time of transformation. This involves a structured process of listening to employees, gathering their feedback, then using these thoughts, ideas, and contributions to provide programs or offerings to help them meet these challenges. 

Blueline’s Voice of the Business process helps to get people’s buy-in to and alignment with change initiatives across the organization. By unlocking and harnessing insights from inside your business, you’ll be better equipped to secure the commitment of your employees to workplace transformation strategies. We begin every custom learning engagement by ensuring we’re tapping into the most current and pressing needs of your learners. Contact us to learn more about the ways we’re supporting business transformation needs.