On-Demand Webinar – Building Strategies for Resilient Workers
Workplace culture experts Mika Cross and Scott Behson recently shared actionable resiliency strategies for the federal workforce in a live discussion attended by more than 300 registrants. Following introductions by moderator Michelle Clark, Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at Management Concepts, the speakers covered several topics related to how federal agencies and organizations are wrestling with effective post-reentry policies, assessing the state of employee engagement and the future of work.
Among the many insights shared, managers and employees were presented with strategies for creating a workplace culture that puts people first. Fostering trust and empathy, developing whole-person workplaces, attracting, retaining, and engaging the best talent, customizing solutions, and identifying more equitable and inclusive approaches to flexible work policies are just a few strategic examples.
Here are highlights of their discussion:
Lead with Trust and Empathy
Scott advocated for leading with trust, empathy, and accountability; he asserted that when people are trusted to manage their own time and get their work done with flexibility and autonomy, they need to appreciate the benefits of a high-trust environment. If performance lags, managers can adjust accordingly. People who are given flexibility and autonomy are typically engaged and focused. Conversely, a more controlling management approach heightens anxiety. Mika added that we need to acknowledge that our new normal will not be one size fits.
Creating a Whole-Person Workplace
Based on the ideas presented in his book, The Whole-Person Workplace, Scott suggested that instead of viewing employees as valued assets that provide returns on investment, we need to apply a values-based approach. He added that when leaders help employees overcome personal and professional challenges, they will become increasingly loyal, engaged, and focused at work.
Mika added that engagement and communication aid transparency and because stress and anxiety impact a person’s ability to do their best work, it is important to listen to those around you describe their experiences and provide reassurance.
Creating a Results Only Work Environment
Mika suggested that when you need to hold people accountable for the mission or have problems with productivity, you may also consider the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) management approach, which measures team members by their performance, results, or output. ROWE encourages leaders to look across the board at policies and extends flexibility with trust and accountability.
It is important to communicate values and expectations while determining what level of flexibility works best for the position and the person. A thoughtful approach will foster a culture of trust and camaraderie and drive teams’ and individuals’ overall engagement and productivity.
Fostering a Feeling of Connectedness
Michelle conveyed that working through a global crisis has shown us how important it is for people to feel connected. Sometimes it can be challenging to build team camaraderie, engagement, and a feeling of belonging in a hybrid work environment.
When asked how these aspects can be improved for employees in the future, Scott responded that remote team members are likely quite burned out, especially if their meetings are purely business. He explained that building in social time and mixing things up from time to time helps teams get closer to the feeling of face-to-face interactions.
Mika reminded us that one size does not fit all and that there are various ways to build a meaningful culture of connectedness, regardless of location. From her experience with remote teams, she is aware that people who habitually work remotely often experience professional isolation, burnout, professional anxiety, and Zoom overload. She recommends trying meetings during which all participants are outdoors — taking in fresh air and sunshine while talking. Having the ability to choose how and when to get work done can greatly enhance mission productivity.
Equity and Inclusion in Flexible Work Policies
When asked about issues related to flexibility, Mika spoke about career privilege — an unconscious or hidden bias related to how flexibilities are leveraged or given. Who will have access to flexibilities such as extended or permanent telework? How will these decisions be made? Although we are conducting our work from our home offices now, we may not have this flexibility in the future. The key to avoiding biases impacting flexible work policies is awareness.
Although virtual teams have existed for many years, they have never been as prevalent as today. Management Concepts continually improves course content to meet changing workforce needs. We understand that the prominence of remote teams may seem daunting. For additional resources addressing remote work topics, visit Teleworking Teams Readiness and view Part 1 and Part 2 of Building Strategies for Resilient Workers on-demand. We will soon be resuming in-person classes while still maintaining a large selection of virtual options so that organizations can determine which options fit best.
Mika J. Cross is a widely acclaimed workplace expert, speaker, strategist, and innovator specializing in flexible work strategies and employee experience. Known as a Federal Workplace Expert, Ms. Cross has over 20 years of public service with assignments throughout the United States Intelligence Community and is a veteran of the United States Army, having served as both an enlisted soldier and commissioned officer.
Scott Behson, Ph.D., is a professor of management, a Silberman Global Faculty Fellow at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a leading researcher in workplace culture and work-family policy. A regular contributor on HBR and other popular press, he was also a speaker at the White House Summit for Working Families and the United Nations’ International Day of the Family. His new book is The Whole-Person Workplace: Building Better Workplaces Through Work-Life, Wellness, and Employee Support.
Michelle Clark serves as Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at Management Concepts. In this role, she drives the strategic development and maintenance of relationships with clients and organizations to identify opportunities for new marketing alliances and establish visibility for Management Concepts.
Management Concepts would also like to thank the Senior Executive Association and the African American Federal Executive Association for sponsoring this event.