Technology makes lives better – and at the 2021 Best Workplaces™ in Technology, that means making employees lives better too. When organizations are as zealous about satisfying their people as they are about keeping their customers happy, they reap the benefits in terms of productivity, retention and overall satisfaction.
This combination isn’t easy to achieve, particularly amid the pressures everyone has been facing with the ongoing pandemic and the resulting economic uncertainty. What these external pressures have revealed however, is that companies that prioritize people as well as productivity and profits are the true winners. And it can be as simple as thinking about your people in the same way you think about your customers, trying to meet their needs, listening and solving their problems. Here are key customer/employee crossover lessons we can learn from the organizations on our Technology list.
Make Life Easier
Ultimately this is what technology companies do. They create and innovate and solve problems in order to make everyday life easier, more efficient, and more effective. Tech saves us time, it saves us money, and makes complex issues seem relatively simple. Doing the same for employees is a recipe for increased happiness and an overall better workplace.
So what makes employees lives easier? Balance and wellness are two issues that are often at the top of satisfaction surveys and when these two items are taken care of, people have the energy they need to address all the other issues they are facing. Having adequate vacation time, being able to take time off when necessary, and flexible work schedules all figure prominently at the best technology firms. A full 94% of employees at the organizations on our list agree that they are able to take time off from work when they think it's necessary.
Knowing that you have the ability to balance your work and home life is incredibly important and it hasn’t been made any easier with the onset of mass work-from-home policies. Yes, being at home affords some time savings in terms of commuting and getting one’s self out the door in a timely manner every day but these pressures were replaced with feelings of being ‘at work’ 24/7. How do you escape the emails, messages, and requests to connect when your office is where you live? Whether working from home, the office or a combination of both, the best workplaces address the issue of balance with practices like:
- No emails after a certain time of day, weekends, etc.
- ‘No-Meetings’ blocks that put people in more control of their daily/weekly schedule.
- Encouraging breaks to rest, recharge, and rejuvenate whether that’s through daily exercise breaks, regular long weekends, or even unlimited vacation time.
- Metrics that measure results versus hours spent working or specific times spent working – as long as the output is there it doesn’t matter when it gets done. As evidence this works, 94% of employees on this list agree with the statement, “My manager trusts people to do a good job without watching over their shoulders.”
- Agreeing to reasonable deadlines and discouraging ‘all-nighters’ to meet impossible deadlines.
- Offering perks that save time/money and make life more interesting and manageable. Think anything food related, discount programs, cool on-the-job tech (oh the irony!), and financial planning resources.
Listen and Respond Transparently and with Empathy
One of the key ways technology companies achieve market success is by listening to their customers. They seek first to understand the issue and then develop a meaningful strategy to solve the problem. So too with employees, when they feel understood and when they are confident their ideas and feedback are important they will be satisfied. In fact at the Best Workplaces™ in Technology, 93% of employees say their manager genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions and ideas.
The ‘genuine’ element is of critical importance and it is achieved through empathy and action. Just as using empathy with customers to really understand their pain-points and what problem you can solve for them, employees who feel truly listened to will be the most satisfied. You can have the most open-concept office with virtual suggestion boxes and Q&A sessions at the end of every meeting, but if ideas aren’t followed through and employees don’t see results, the whole exercise is in vain. If you listen to a customer give you feedback and you don’t follow through, how long will that customer trust you with their business? Likewise, if you gather employee ideas and feedback and they don’t go anywhere, how engaged will that employee be and how hard will they work for you?
- Be open and honest. 93% of employees at organizations on the Best Workplaces™ in Technology list say they can ask their manager any reasonable question and get a straight answer.
- Use many methods to gather ideas and feedback – surveys, suggestion boxes, one on ones, regular Q&A, skip level meetings, cross functional collaborations, etc.
- Be tenaciously inclusive and encourage ideas from ALL employees: the bold and the shy; the ones who want credit and the ones why prefer anonymity; the ones who work the front lines and the ones in leadership roles; the ones whose backgrounds are diverse and the ones whose voices have been suppressed.
- Follow through – insist on a robust idea life-cycle that is transparent and allows employees to understand what happens when they make a suggestion. Who evaluates it? What is the evaluation criterion? Will they be recognized for their idea? Who makes a final decision? Will they be involved in implementation?
Be Flexible and Open to Change
Tied closely to listening is being adaptable. Again, from a customer perspective being flexible and open to change helps organizations navigate the ever-changing landscape of needs. Employees’ needs change too and leaders need to stay on top of what is important and take the organization’s pulse on a regular basis.
Technology organizations are masters at adapting to change, paying attention to trends and staying attuned to what their customers want (sometimes before they even know they want it!). This is how they stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant. They understand that cutting-edge today could be obsolete in just a few years. And this is an important lesson for organizations everywhere that strive to be great workplaces.
It starts by seeing your people as people and not just employees. When viewed with that lens it is easier to change policies and programs to meet people’s needs individually and collectively. When you see people as individuals you are also more open to finding creative solutions to their problems and going beyond one-size fits all solutions. The statement, ‘My manager shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee’ received 92% agreement from employees at the Best Workplaces™ . That is solid support for the notion of being flexible and adapting to what individuals need.
- Think about what you offer employees in terms of perks and benefits. Ask them directly whether they still meet their needs. What you offered your employees as a fantastic benefit package 10 years ago might not meet the majority of employees’ needs today.
- Critically evaluate what you consider your best practices and view them through current lenses like trust, fairness, equity, and inclusion. Is recognizing your top three salespeople and sending them on a fabulous all-expense paid trip yearly as inspiring and motivating FOR ALL as you think it is?
- Be less concerned with equal treatment and focus instead on equity. The employee whose mother died overseas may need more bereavement leave than your policy dictates. Meet your employees where they are and ask yourself how you can make the situation better.
- Ask questions constantly; don’t be satisfied with the status quo, and keep pushing forward as you create a better and better workplace for your people.
The Best Workplaces™ in Technology are great at solving problems and making lives better for both their customers and their people. Two top priorities that can be achieved by all and FOR ALL.
If you want a comprehensive view of how employees are experiencing your workplace and how you can respond to their needs and maintain their trust, ask us about our employee survey and culture management platform.