The pandemic ushered in a wave of fresh challenges for companies and leaders, but it also served as a much-needed pause for leaders to reflect, retool, and reset. Now, nearly three years on, we’ve inherited a radically transformed workplace environment — and we’re tasked with implementing some of the carefully considered changes that will better serve our teams and help us to create the workplace of the future.

In a conversation hosted by the NationSwell Council community on Wednesday, we came together to parse exactly what leaders are doing to address DEIB goals, team attrition rates, competing needs amid a newly hybrid working world, and more.

Here are some of the key learnings from the event.

  1. We often think of how we create value for customers — now it’s time to start thinking about how we create value for our teams. New, remote work challenges have prompted a slew of new questions about how to keep teams engaged and how much “in-person” time is actually needed. Some leaders who are used to thinking about how to create value that makes customers want to show up are now flipping that question on its head, asking what they can do to incentivize team members to work from the office. Creating a hybrid schedule where employees are only expected to come into the office on certain days of the week — and then offering special perks, like free lunches and special affinity group meetings on those days — can be a helpful system for making team members feel like their time in the office is valuable and worth it.
  2. Building out effective listening engines will be critical to accurately assessing employees’ needs. With so much shared wisdom on how to respond to team members’ post-pandemic needs flying around, it can be tempting to impulsively deploy some of those solutions and policies, especially given that the underlying assumption is that they will make employees’ lives easier. But as one member pointed out, not every team member’s needs look the same — and it’s important to build out an infrastructure for feedback that ensures that you’re capturing your specific team’s needs as accurately as possible.
  3. Pay as much attention to why people are staying as you do to why they’re leaving. When it comes to high turnover rates, the intuitive response is to get to the bottom of why people are leaving and what can be done to mitigate the departures. But it’s equally important to figure out why people are staying — and which policies are actually working — so that you can be sure-footed in creating an environment that people genuinely want to be in, and not just one that they’re not ready to leave.
  4. If you value DEIB, put a premium on mental health. Team members’ mental health and well-being naturally dovetails with DEIB concerns: conversations about compensation, job security, hybrid work schedules, pipelines for advancement, and more are inherently stressful, and play a huge role in employees’ livelihoods and psychological safety both inside and outside the workplace. Investing in wraparound support structures can help to ensure team members’ happiness and well-being in the long run, and can set your organization up to more sustainably foster a workplace that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
  5. Work with team members to build hybrid schedules that suit their lives and needs. Rather than mandating that employees be in the office at certain times on certain days, create flexible mechanisms by which team members can choose to work from home when needed, as long as they let team members know well in advance. 

The NationSwell Council community brings together a diverse, curated community of bold individuals and organizations leading the way in social, economic, and environmental problem-solving. Learn more about the Council here.