Being Kind Works.

5 Take-aways from the Economist Innovation@Work Conference

daniel-and-nicole-infront-stage

Last week the KindWorks.AI team had the pleasure of being invited to the Economist Innovation@Work conference. We enjoyed dozens of conversations with other industry leaders driving the future of work. We learned so much that it’s hard to know where to start. We wanted to share some of the themes that inspired us: prioritize employee experience in the same way that you prioritize user experience; ensure an environment of belonging; communicate changes with clarity and consistency; maintain flexibility; build a foundation of trust.

Employee Experience

Prioritizing employee experience in the same way that you prioritize customer experience will be mandatory to retain and attract talent. Companies have invested significant amounts in developing optimal customer experiences. The focus in customer experience has proven strong ROI in acquiring and retaining customers. A similar strategy is going to be important to implement to focus on employee experience and design with an employee-first mentality.

A strong customer experience starts with clear customer insights and employee experience is similar. It is important to listen to employees, understand their pain points and motivations, and design an employee experience to match those learnings with the goals of your organization. This process of listening and designing for employees needs to be integral into your organization.

Belonging

Creating a sense of belonging must be a priority. Recognize that humans are human. As a leader, take time to acknowledge each person as an individual and listen to their needs and goals. Then create a plan with each individual for how to grow both their personal goals and the company goals together.

Listening and getting to know your colleague or direct report on a human level, has the power to transform an entire work experience. When we develop relationships that transcend beyond the transactional level, it is possible to drive extraordinary results while also moving fast, maintaining a strong sense of purpose, and understanding shared goals.

Clarity & Consistency

Clarity and consistency regarding your return to work strategy is critical both in how you are communicating and how you are executing. Companies are adopting a wide variety of approaches to the new work environment and it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. The key is that, once your company has aligned on a strategy, be clear on what that is and then practice consistency.

Ensure that all leaders have a clear understanding of the plan and the reasons behind it. All elements of the strategy should have logical reasons for why and how the plan aligns with the overall company goals and culture. Provide talking points for leaders so that when they share the plan with their team members and answer questions, there is consistency across the company and no disparities are unintentionally created.

Flexibility & Experimentation

The only certainty is uncertainty. Flexibility and experimentation must be at the forefront of a company strategy. While clarity and consistency are important for a return to work strategy, so is a mindset that the strategy will likely need to be revisited and adapted frequently.

Operate with a startup mentality no matter the size of your company. Take many small bets frequently and don’t be afraid to fail. Reward for experimentation. . The world, our resources, and our employee and customer expectations are changing more rapidly than ever, and our companies need to adapt with the times or risk extinction.

Trust

Hybrid work is here to stay and, in a remote or hybrid environment, trust MUST be the basis of the culture. Things at work are moving faster every day and, without face-to-face interactions, it becomes easier to misinterpret communications. Starting with a basis of trust means that we will start by assuming positive intentions about the other person. While trust should be the basis of any workplace; in hybrid or remote world it’s all the more important.

When we don’t physically see someone doing the work, it can become easier to think of them as slacking off instead of working. A great rule of thumb at the office (and in life) is to always assume positive intent. When this is our mindset instead of always having our guard up, we become more welcoming for other people and build the foundation of trust.

Besides these 5 themes we will prioritize out of the conference, the speakers and attendees had so many numerous additional ideas and feedback on the state of the workplace. It’s an exciting time to be transforming the future of work and I’m so excited to be leading the way with KindWorks.AI.

If you are interested in learning more about KindWorks.AI and how we can partner to boost employee morale, retain talent, and transform culture by tackling the root causes, I’m always happy to connect.

Nicole Yelsey

Author

Nicole Yelsey, Strategy & Marketing at KindWorks.AI

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