As we close out 2022, a year where we’ve adjusted to hybrid workplaces as the new norm, tried to understand quiet quitting, navigated ongoing inflation and economic uncertainty, and faced increasing demands for compensation and employee engagement, it’s time to look ahead to see what the next year will hold for organizations and HR teams.

1. HR will have to bridge the divide. 

Companies are going to over-index on performance — and risk damaging the employee experience.

We are still dealing with a global pandemic, and on top of that, we now also have inflation and economic uncertainty to contend with. As businesses look for ways to cut costs and increase productivity, organizations have tried various tactics to get more out of their current workforce, including requiring employees to return to the office at least a few days a week or using surveillance software to track employees.

Increasing productivity is easier said than done. Gallup found that highly engaged teams are 18% more productive and 23% more profitable than low engagement teams. However, only 21% of employees are engaged at work globally, with workers in the US and Canada slightly higher at 33%, meaning the majority of employees worldwide are disengaged. Low engagement teams have 18% to 43% higher turnover rates than highly engaged teams, which is costly to the bottom line.

Disengaged employees are leaving companies, but the reasons why they’re leaving and the reasons that executives believe they’re leaving are mismatched. Executives attribute attrition to transactional elements — compensation, poor health, and employees looking for a better job. Meanwhile, employees have reevaluated what they want in a job in the last few years, and it now takes more than money to retain top talent. A Lattice survey of 2,000 US and European employees showed that younger workers are looking for a place to belong. Work flexibility has also risen in importance: Recent Lattice research showed that 59% of Gen Z and millennial employees would consider walking out of a job over a company’s remote work policy. Plus, in light of layoffs and cost-cutting efforts, employees are being asked to do more with less, which is a surefire recipe for burnout.

HR teams have the difficult job of finding the middle ground, working with executives to set realistic goals for the organization while also trying to increase employee engagement and retention in order to achieve those goals. HR teams can create or revisit their employee value proposition (EVP), which is the promise the organization makes to employees and candidates that incorporates company values, compensation strategy, learning and development opportunities, and more. Employees are looking at their work experience in its entirety and are looking for businesses that align with their values. By emphasizing deeper connections, personal growth, flexibility, well-being, and a shared purpose, employers can shift their EVP to be more human-centric to show employees that they are valued as people, not just line items on a spreadsheet.

Your employee experience doesn’t have to be at odds with your business performance. Check out How to Use Performance Management to Inspire Employee Growth to learn how.

2. Your managers are not okay.

Manager engagement and retention will be a mission-critical priority for HR and business leaders this year. 

It’s clear that employees at all levels have faced challenges these past years, and that is certainly the case for managers, who sit in the wide middle area between C-Suite executives and employees and have to balance the priorities of both. Good managers have a specific set of skills and are more than just advanced individual contributors. They lead, manage, and develop their teams and reports. The past few years of the pandemic and shift to hybrid work have made managerial responsibilities multiply and grow in unexpected ways — not only do they have to champion their employees but they’ve also had to help employees navigate an unsettling economy and potential job insecurity, and managers are reaching a breaking point.

With engagement and retention more important than ever, the brunt of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of managers. Gallup data shows that team engagement depends heavily on the manager, who can account for a 70% difference in engagement rates. Employees want purpose in their jobs, but the “who” that can drive employee engagement is a caring manager. A GoodHire survey of 3,000 American workers showed that bad managers not only impact engagement, but also retention, and 82% of workers would potentially quit their job because of a bad manager. One of the top reasons employees leave their jobs is because they don’t feel valued by their manager.

But managers are also struggling with engagement. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager Report, 35% of US managers are engaged, and 14% are actively disengaged. With these rates, it’s no wonder that employee engagement rates are also low, as employees who work for engaged employees are 59% more likely to be engaged themselves. And it’s not just that managers are disengaged; they’re also burned out and leaving their jobs. Lattice research also found that middle managers (defined as managers who oversee teams of managers) were the most likely cohort of employees to be actively looking for new work (70% in the UK and 50% in the US). 

Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index showed that managers felt like they were stuck between managing executive and employee expectations, which often aren’t aligned. Over half of managers surveyed felt that their organization’s leadership was out of touch with employees. But managers felt powerless to create change, with 74% of surveyed managers saying they lacked the resources and influence to make changes for their team.

The role of the manager as a team motivator is more critical than ever, but managers are facing an extraordinary amount of pressure to have their teams deliver while trying to balance heavy workloads, manage people, engage employees, and maintain everyone’s well-being. Most managers do not have the resources or bandwidth to combat burnout when they’re facing it themselves. 

Companies need to find ways to support their managers, as they are a crucial part of improving engagement and company culture. That means including managers in the employee experience to get a full picture of how employees are doing, and implementing the right systems and processes to enable managers to succeed. Managers are less likely to know what’s expected of them than the people they manage, and over 40% of managers surveyed say they have competing priorities, so setting clear priorities and expectations can help managers focus on the most impactful business goals instead of trying to do it all. Organizations should provide career development opportunities to help their managers grow, as well as performance management resources (best practices in giving and receiving feedback, conducting one-on-ones, etc.) to help their teams succeed. And there should be a focus on well-being initiatives or programs to help managers combat burnout for themselves and their teams. 

Lattice’s 2023 State of People Strategy (SOPS) showed that manager training was the second highest priority for HR leaders in 2022, behind employee engagement. Investing in managers helps invest in the teams they oversee. Bad managers negatively impact engagement and retention and are therefore costly, but good managers give employees a reason to stay and perform to their best ability.

See what HR professionals around the globe had to say about this year’s priorities, successes, and challenges in The 2023 State of People Strategy Report.

3. Pay transparency is coming, and it’s going to be a mess.

Creating a compensation philosophy is only half the equation; employees want to know where they stand.

California recently passed a pay transparency law requiring all companies with more than 15 employees to list salary ranges for jobs. California joins the growing number of states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, and Washington, that have passed similar legislation requiring employers to disclose pay. The laws vary from state to state, which may be difficult for job seekers to navigate. Still, pay transparency has benefits, such as helping to counter the gender pay gap, the difference in salary between men and women in the US. Research from 2022 shows women earn $0.82 for every $1 men earn, and the gap is even wider for women of color.

Pay transparency is also in line with what employees want from employers. A Lattice survey on compensation found that 67% of US employees agreed their company should have transparency around pay policies, and over half of respondents think companies should disclose how much everyone is paid.

Companies, on the other hand, are still catching up. Lattice’s 2023 State of People Strategy found that pay transparency within organizations is still low, and even lower at smaller companies.

  • 54% of HR leaders said only HR and finance know pay bands.
  • 25% of employees know the salary band for their job level, but only 9% know the pay band for the next level up.

With 59% of companies investing in pay transparency, and 21% investing considerable effort in it, companies are making some progress. Pay transparency helps employees have trust in pay equity across the organization and can also increase engagement and retention. For example, if employees see a comparable job listing with a salary that is much higher than theirs, that information may help them negotiate during the next round of performance and compensation cycles. It can also save time during the recruitment process by weeding out candidates who are looking for a role that pays differently.

Compensation transparency can’t happen without proper planning and strategy. Businesses need to be clear on what they are going to disclose and how. To achieve that, People teams need to develop a compensation philosophy that provides clear guidelines, ties back to company values, and explains how salaries, raises, and bonuses are structured. Creating the compensation philosophy is only half the equation; organizations then need to develop a communication plan so all employees know where they stand and what the potential opportunities are for movement within the company.

Keep in mind that compensation goes beyond salary, and a compensation philosophy should factor in a total rewards package, which can include benefits, health and wellness programs, learning and development, and paid time off. These additional items may not show up directly on a paycheck but can still positively impact the employee experience. 

One way to add structure to your compensation strategy is to use a compensation tool, which can help HR teams securely share data, collaborate across teams, and implement updates as needed.

Fair compensation can improve retention, employee motivation, and overall business performance. Download How to Reward Top Talent With Pay-for-Performance to learn more.

4. We’re returning to fundamental workforce strategies.

The world of work is moving on from gimmicks like quiet quitting, productivity paranoia, or the hybrid push/pull.

Changes in work norms have led to rebranding of old trends with new terms in an effort to describe the shifts in employee expectations. For example, “quiet quitting” is simply a new term for employee disengagement, and “productivity paranoia” is when leaders are worried their teams aren’t working hard enough with hybrid work models, despite 87% of employees reporting they are productive. And even employees recognize that these are just new names for old stories: Recent Lattice research found that 45% of employees reported that they were not very familiar, or not familiar at all, with the phrase quiet quitting — and yet 36% of those same employees self-reported having “quietly quit” in the last year when it was defined as disengaging from their work. 

Neither of these trends began during the pandemic, but coining phrases for them highlighted the fact that engagement and productivity have always been organizational priorities, and HR teams have been at the forefront of navigating this new world of work. According to Lattice’s 2023 State of People Strategy, HR leaders expect some, if not all, of their workforce to be remote, and have prioritized employee engagement; manager training; learning and development; diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) programs; and performance management over talent acquisition.

As employee expectations change and organizations adapt to meet them, we’ll see a shift from The Great Resignation to The Great Recognition. Organizations will recognize that the best employees are engaged employees and that listening to workers’ feedback is not only good for employee growth, but for company growth as well.

5. “Hybrid work” is just “work” now.

Employees who have embraced it will increasingly shape where the new workforce is headed. 

For better or worse, a majority of workers have gotten used to remote work and all that it offers: no commute, comfortable work clothes, and more flexible schedules. According to behavioral economics, people avoid loss more than they seek gain, and thus they are not likely to want to give up remote or hybrid work, no matter what the additional in-office perks are. In fact, six in 10 fully remote employees and three in 10 hybrid employees said they are “extremely likely to change companies” if remote flexibility is not an option. Even though a company’s percentage of remote workers varies significantly by industry and organization size (for example, professional services and tech companies will have more remote employees than manufacturing companies), for most employees and employers, hybrid work is not an option anymore, but rather a requirement. 

Some of the early concerns with remote work were about how managers and employees needed facetime together for productivity and engagement. However, managers have become comfortable managing their teams remotely, with 45% saying they have enough facetime to effectively manage most employees and situations. Even the 26% of respondents who would prefer more facetime feel they have enough of it to handle major issues. This is consistent across companies whether they are 10% or 90% remote. HR professionals who feel there should be more facetime cited engagement and culture as their top concerns, with productivity ranking second to last.

Employees have realized that they don’t need to go to a physical office to do work and that they want increased flexibility so work can fit into their lives instead of the other way around. Smaller companies can shift to hybrid and remote work models more easily, and traditional businesses will have to follow suit to retain talent. Gen Z not only places greater importance on purpose at work, but will also be the first generation that has not been required to be in the office five days a week. Gen Z’s percentage of the total workforce will only grow over time, and as a result, as an increasing number of hybrid or remote employees move into leadership and manager roles, hybrid strategies will improve and solidify in the long term.

A shift in employee values and demographics, new and hybrid spaces where we physically do work, and an ongoing struggle to maintain employee engagement despite internal and economic pressures have all upended traditional organizational playbooks. HR teams play an increasingly important role in balancing priorities at all levels of the organization, evolving company culture to meet dynamic needs, and driving employee and business success.

‍Resources for Humans is Lattice’s Slack community of over 18,000 People leaders. The community is designed to help HR professionals connect, share advice, and ask questions. Together, we help each other navigate challenges by sharing resources and firsthand experiences. Click here to learn more about the free community.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) has become a top priority for most companies in 2021. Employees have grown to expect more from the people and systems they work for, and businesses in turn recognized the need for change and accountability.

So where do you start once you’ve identified diversity hiring and culture as a top priority for your company? Here are a few takeaways from our recent webinar on building a DE&I playbook.

Leadership

The first step to any DE&I transformation is to acknowledge that DE&I is more than an isolated initiative or HR program. It’s a philosophy that needs to be imbued into every level of your organization, starting with your leaders.

The Problem: Getting Buy-in

For most companies, the HR leader is the main driver for DE&I efforts across the organization. Unfortunately, getting senior leadership’s buy-in for these efforts is a major challenge that many face. 

John Hardy, Diversity & Inclusion Sr. Manager at Best Buy, understands the need for leadership alignment. “You have to start at the top, and you have to be focused on your C-suite,” he said. “The executive has to get it, their direct reports have to get it, [and] the board of directors should probably be on that journey with you.”

That’s not to say that things will be easy once leadership is on board with the DE&I mindset. Introducing change into your organization will likely yield some discomfort and ambiguity, so it’s important to have a strong argument for venturing into new territory.

The Play 

1. Do your research.

To build a strong business case for investing in a company-wide DE&I strategy, you need to present leadership with concrete, evidence-based reasoning on why diversity will benefit the organization. As Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition and Diversity at Fiix Software, Dean Delpeache, pointed out, companies in the top quartile of ethnic-racial diversity outperform the industry median by approximately 36%. For gender diversity, they outperform the median by 21%.

Not only will this kind of data help you make a case for DE&I programs, but it will also help establish benchmarks for your company. In terms of leadership, for example, is your C-suite completely comprised of one demographic? Identify some diversity metrics you can put in place to ensure that different groups are represented in every major decision.

2. Turn to the experts.

While you’re examining your organization’s leadership structures, consider hiring some expertise in the DE&I space to provide valuable guidance and perspective to your overall strategy. HR leaders have a wide range of responsibilities, so it makes sense to bring in dedicated and ongoing support to champion DE&I causes and initiatives. Professionals with experience in workplace diversity are uniquely equipped to communicate and articulate sensitive ideas, a powerful quality to have in leadership. 

Hiring

A big part of what people think of when they hear about DE&I is hiring. Hiring practices are an undeniable component of any DE&I strategy, but diversifying the hiring pipeline isn’t about filling a quota. Instead, focus on what problem your organization is trying to solve when it comes to talent.

The Problem: Busting the Myth

One of the most misguided myths about hiring is that prioritizing diversity means sacrificing the best talent. This assumption isn’t just inaccurate, it’s harmful to business. Companies need to “understand that bringing in a diversity of folks and talent is actually going to bring in diversity of skill and the ability to do things that [they] cannot do today,” Hardy said.

Bringing in this diversity isn’t a passive process. There needs to be an active effort to recruit talent that isn’t being reached or represented because, as Hardy put it, “talent is limitless, but opportunity is very limited.”

The Play 

1. Look at your job descriptions.

Job descriptions are the gateway between your organization and its future employees, so it’s important to be aware of how unconscious biases can influence them. Research shows that women are less likely than men to apply for positions where they do not meet at least 90% of the listed qualifications. In the interest of encouraging higher female representation in your candidate pool, try differentiating between qualifications that are required versus nice to have. The same goes for educational requirements – if a role doesn’t require a post-secondary degree, then consider not including it in your job description or simply listing it as a preference.

Another great approach for encouraging applicant diversity is including an equity statement in your organization’s job postings that lets job-seekers know they should still consider applying even if they only meet some of the role’s qualifications. For Delpeache, this method has been extremely effective for bringing in candidates from diverse backgrounds, with 51% of applicants crediting the company’s equity statement as their reason for applying.

2. Use diversity and inclusion surveys.

Diversity and inclusion surveys are a powerful part of your hiring toolkit. These are optional surveys that applicants can fill out anonymously during the application process.

“This tells us who’s coming into our pipeline,” Delpeache said. “So, for example, if I have a software developer role and see 80% male applicants coming in and 20% female, I can literally go back and say, is there something wrong with our job description? Are we using gender-neutral words?” 

There are multiple values to this level of insight. One, it allows you to quantify who is coming into your hiring pipeline so you can make an effort to appeal to people from different backgrounds. Second, it gives you the ability to do some root-cause analysis on how diversity trickles down from the candidate stage to the hiring stage.

“If you’re courting a lot of POC but only hiring a very small percentage of that, that tells you where there’s a flaw in your system,” Hardy said. “A lot of organizations do most of their hiring around people of color in lower bands of the organization…And oftentimes, they’ll trade up for other organizations who see the value in [them] before you see it.”

Training

The third component of any successful DE&I playbook is training. If your organization is serious about transforming its diversity practices, you need to ensure that everyone has the training and resources needed to evolve.

The Problem: Addressing the Big Picture

Training isn’t going to solve DE&I issues singlehandedly – it’s only part of the equation. As Hardy pointed out, “Having diversity in the room is not enough. Inclusion is, again, back to that mindset where you’re creating safety. Do people feel safe in your environment?”

The Play

1. Align your organization.

Your organization’s primary challenge is creating growth, and one of the best ways to do this is to invest in creating a positive employee experience. Instead of focusing on individual initiatives, make an effort to align your organization from top to bottom around the DE&I philosophy. Rather than implementing training programs based on awareness, allow your employees to interact and practice in peer-based environments.

“Employees that find and feel a sense of belonging in the workforce are 167% more likely to promote your organization to others,” Delpeache said. DE&I training is powerful because it can create a united front. When your executives, mid-level managers, and recruiters all view themselves as cultural ambassadors for your organization, they’re more invested in working together to create a positive experience. 

2. Stay the course.

Ultimately, DE&I training is a long game. Still, a lot of training programs fall short because they’re seen as event-based rather than continuous. 

“Completing a class doesn’t mean you can move on, because diversity is deeply introspective work,” Hardy said. An isolated training session isn’t going to drive any meaningful behavioral change. You need to be following up with engagement surveys – both immediately after the training and then again after six months – to see if there have been any quantifiable improvements. Lattice’s employee engagement software makes it easy to track progress and see how DE&I sentiment evolves over time. 

Building DE&I into your company isn’t a quick fix. Rather, it’s a nuanced and deeply rewarding process that requires a fundamental shift in your company’s mindset. To prioritize DE&I means that you’ve realized diversity breeds innovation, and this outlook is essential to effecting change that is meaningful and intentional. 

Don’t rush it. After all, according to Hardy, “Urgency is the enemy of inclusion.”

It’s impossible to address problems that you don’t know exist within your organization. While diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) aren’t always tangible or visible aspects of the employee experience, many organizations have found a solution for quantifying and measuring these elusive workplace concepts: surveys

Surveys help take the burden off employees to self-report unequal practices by giving them a safe, anonymous channel to voice concerns, issues, and experiences with organizational diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Surveys help Human Resources teams collect this feedback at scale; measure change; and make informed, data-driven decisions on how to build a workplace where every employee feels heard, seen, and valued. 

Whether you’re launching a DE&I survey for the first time or looking for tips to improve your existing survey strategy, here are seven ways to help ensure your next DE&I survey creates meaningful change at your company.

1. Ask the right questions.

To get the most out of your survey, you need to ask the right questions. Give employees an opportunity to share their experiences and observations with a mix of questions using the Likert scale, a survey scale that asks respondents to choose from a list of answers ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree in order to measure satisfaction and opinion, and free-response questions. 

Here are a few example DE&I survey questions to get you started: 

Scale-Rated Questions

  • I feel empowered to make decisions at work.
  • I feel like I belong at [Company Name].
  • There are leaders in the organization that I can relate to.
  • Our senior leadership team represents the diverse makeup of our organization.
  • My manager encourages everyone on the team to speak up and share different ideas.
  • Our organization values diverse opinions and ideas.
  • Promotions and raises are given fairly at our company. 

Free-Response Questions

  • How can we ensure every team member feels heard? 
  • How could we improve diversity and inclusion at [Company Name]? 

Every question on your survey should have a clear, specific purpose, according to Ashley Schwedt, Leadership Trainer & DEI Lead at LifeLabs Learning, a New York-based consultancy firm specializing in leadership training for managers and executives. “Only ask questions you can do something about. When designing your survey, for each question, ask [yourself], ‘What will I do with this information?’” advised Schwedt. “If the answer is ‘Nothing,’ it isn’t a good question to ask. The responses should drive business strategy by highlighting current gaps and helping the leadership team determine where to focus resources.”

If you’re still not sure what to ask, consider looking internally for inspiration. “Open a portal where folks can anonymously contribute questions that they’d like to see on the survey,” recommended Kristen Liesch, PhD, cofounder and co-CEO of Tidal Equality, a strategy firm helping businesses fight internal inequality. “Chances are, there are things people want to bring to the attention of the organization, and they know what kinds of questions need to be asked to get at the insights necessary to make an equitable and inclusive change. 

“A big mistake we see when it comes to surveys is when the questions asked just touch the surface, and don’t really get under the hood of equity, diversity, and inclusion challenges,” Liesch continued. “That’s a surefire recipe for reduced participation and increased resistance down the road.”

2. Have a survey launch plan.

Building the survey is only half the battle — now, you need to convince your employees to take the time to share their thoughts and experiences. 

The secret to boosting participation? Reminding employees why these surveys matter. “Transparency is key when creating and communicating surveys,” said Rachel Pierce-Burnside, a founding partner at Diversified, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in diversity, equity, and inclusion. “HR teams should clearly present what the survey is for, why it is important, how the results will be used, and how the findings will be presented prior to asking employees to complete them. Communicating clearly will assist with engagement, interest, and trust.”

When your survey is ready to launch, send out an email from your HR team, CEO, or another C-level executive to communicate the following points:

  • Announce the survey is live.
  • Share why/how it’s vital to your overall DE&I strategy.
  • Remind employees all feedback is anonymous.
  • Specify when the survey will close and when your team will share results. 

Follow-up on survey participation rates and encourage employees to take the survey in company all-hands meetings and via email or your company’s internal messaging system. You should also partner with managers to have them remind their direct reports in team meetings and one-on-ones.  

3. Create a data-driven action plan.

Armed with your data and survey analysis, now you need to build an action plan to incorporate your learnings into your DE&I strategy. This is one of the most crucial steps of running a survey because it’s your “so what” factor — and how you drive change within your organization and take steps today to build a better workplace tomorrow. 

Unfortunately, this is the part where many businesses fail. They administer the survey, amass findings, and then fail to create a meaningful, forward-thinking action plan to act on opportunities revealed in the survey. “The biggest and most egregious mistake I see companies make is doing nothing with survey results,” said Cenina Saxton, EdD, PHR, an HR talent and development expert with over 20 years of experience. “This leaves employees feeling as if DE&I is not important to the organization and the survey was simply an item on the HR checklist.” 

An action plan shows employees you’re listening to their needs, acting on their feedback, and truly investing in diversity and inclusion at your organization. 

4. Get executive buy-in.

Change starts from the top down, so once your survey closes, take the time to analyze your results and pull meaningful insights for your executive team. Walk them through a detailed overview of your findings, complete with the added context of benchmark or past survey data for comparison. Then, present your proposed action plan to obtain their buy-in

“Surveys provide tangible data that can support what the needs, feelings, and ideas of team members truly are,” noted Pierce-Burnside. “Instead of relying on HR teams to create programs, policies, and initiatives from their own perspectives, executives can lean on survey results to present true evidence for where the organization should start and how.” 

5. Share findings with employees.

Next, you’ll need to share your analysis and action plan with your employees. Oftentimes, Human Resources teams or a CEO will present survey results during an all-company meeting, so they can walk employees through the findings and add context. These presentations should include an overview of participation rates, survey scores, organizational strengths, opportunities for growth, key findings, and historical or benchmark comparisons. You should end the meeting by reviewing your detailed action plan, showing employees exactly what your business will be doing to address any issues raised by the survey.

6. Follow-up on progress.

Too often, companies take action in the wake of their survey’s completion but fail to maintain that momentum or keep employees updated on progress. “Failing to follow through with needed actions that the survey results present will set your organization back and send a very loud message to employees,”  cautioned Pierce-Burnside. “Actions are what determine whether a business is performative or not and, ultimately, tell a story to your employees on the value and importance of their voice.”

Regularly updating your workforce on the steps you’ve taken or are taking to improve DE&I can demonstrate your lasting commitment to improving the employee experience at your company. This can inspire trust and help ensure employees are more forthcoming on future surveys. 

7. Repeat.

Surveys should not be approached as a one-time solution; they need to be part of your ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion program. Continue to administer DE&I surveys every six months, or as needed by your organization, while being mindful of survey fatigue. 

“Anytime your employee base changes, it is important to re-measure. Anytime a change happens, it is important to re-measure,” stressed Schwedt. “Twice a year is usually a good cadence for any kind of employee survey. But again, make sure to remind folks why you’re surveying them and why you’ve chosen the cadence you have.” 

This can help you measure the effectiveness of new initiatives, get closer to your DE&I goals, and prove diversity, equity, and inclusion is top of mind for your HR team and organization — but only when done right. Regularly follow-up on progress and ensure your team is taking action to build trust with employees and make data-driven decisions about DE&I at your organization. 

Surveys are an essential piece of an organization’s overall DE&I strategy. While they help reveal unfairness and representation gaps within your business, it’s crucial to remember that administering a survey doesn’t automatically bring about change. Identifying issues is meaningless until you take action to fix them. 

Looking to use DE&I surveys for your organization? Lattice makes survey creation, administration, and analysis simple, letting you focus on taking meaningful, measured action to improve life at your company. Click here to learn more about Lattice and start creating a workplace environment and culture where every voice is heard and valued. 

For most of us, the work environment is vastly different from what it was a year ago. Priorities have changed, and there’s been a clear shift in the way we choose to spend our time and engage with one another.

As the future of “work” is being redefined, it’s important to tap into the things that remind us of why and how we want to work. Here are five TED talks for any HR professional in search of some serious inspiration:

1. Color Blind or Color Brave?

Finance executive Mellody Hobson isn’t afraid of approaching things head-on. Maybe that’s why she begins her talk with a strong dose of reality about her own personal and professional experiences with discrimination. Hobson argues that the best companies aren’t afraid of engaging with uncomfortable conversations around race, and that having different perspectives ultimately results in a better product, culture, and business as a whole.

By shedding a light on the realities and undeniable values of workplace diversity, Hobson challenges us to reject the idea of being “color blind” and instead embrace a new mindset of being “color brave.”

“The first step to solving any problem is to not hide from it, and the first step to any form of action is awareness.”  – Mellody Hobson

2. Forget the Pecking Order at Work

You might wonder – how could an experiment involving six generations of chickens possibly relate to workplace culture? According to entrepreneur, Margaret Heffernan, organizations often mimic the arbitrary pecking order of chicken flocks by giving a disproportionate amount of resources and power to the “superchickens” of the workforce (also known as “stack ranking”). Rather than fostering growth, this approach often manifests as inefficiency and narrow-minded thinking.

Instead, Heffernan champions the value of learning to trust the people you work with and the organic progress that can be achieved as a result — a phenomenon that she refers to as “social capital.”

“Companies don’t have ideas; only people do. And what motivates people are the bonds and loyalty and trust they develop between each other.”                              – Margaret Heffernan

3. The Way We Think About Work Is Broken

For psychology professor Barry Schwartz, the big question is: “Why do we work?” In pursuit of a definitive answer, Schwartz looks all the way back to the Industrial Revolution. He believes this is when businesses started organizing around a false view of human nature that assumes most people reject work unless incentivized with rewards.

The problem with this approach, Schwartz argues, is that it actually deprives people of the intangible satisfaction they can derive from working — things like being intellectually challenged, feeling like part of a team, or identifying with a larger purpose. To put it simply, your people are so much more than cogs on a wheel. It’s time we start rethinking our approach to work accordingly.

“We design human nature by designing the institutions within which people live and work.” – Barry Schwartz 

4. Solving the Workforce Crisis of 2030

HR expert Rainer Strack presents his audience with the hard facts. In less than ten years, the world will be facing a global workforce crisis driven by what he identifies as a growing labor shortage and skills mismatch. So how can businesses prepare to meet the needs of those coveted workers who will be in high demand but low supply?

The answer lies in fostering meaningful connections in the workplace. After surveying 200,000 people, Strack reveals that the top considerations for people when it comes to work are all related to culture. Most workers are interested in healthy relationships, work-life balance, and peer recognition more than they are interested in tangible criteria such as title or salary. This isn’t something we need to wait until 2030 to see. HR professionals can push their businesses forward by adopting a truly people-centric culture.

“Employees are resources, are assets, not costs, not headcounts, not machines.” – Rainer Strack

5. The Puzzle of Motivation

According to author Dan Pink, one of the biggest findings in social science is the ineffectiveness of the reward-and-punishment model. True motivation can’t be forced. In fact, when organizations follow an “if-then” approach to work, they almost always suffer from reduced engagement, increased turnover, and suppressed creativity.

Pink poses a new operating system for businesses that revolves around three key elements — autonomy, mastery, and purpose — which he believes are the building blocks for a successful work environment. For many organizations, this means restructuring their company values and performance standards to be focused on results rather than surface-level benchmarks like hours or attendance. 

“There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.”    – Dan Pink

Looking for even more People strategy inspiration? See what other innovative ideas and projects HR leaders are working on by joining the Resources for Humans Slack Community.

Imagine juggling the hardest job in the world with a nine-to-five. According to U.S. census data, nearly half of households are doing just that.

Working parents report feeling more stressed, tired, and rushed than their colleagues — and the data backs that up. But in addition to making up a sizeable chunk of the workforce, these employees bring unique perspectives to the table, making them a critical part of your talent strategy and diversity and inclusion goals.

So what can HR teams do to help lighten the load for working parents and make them feel included? Here are a few strategies to consider.

1. Get a baseline from survey data.

From measuring eNPS to belonging, employee surveys can be used to track sentiment in a few different ways. While company-wide metrics can give you a gut check as to how your workforce is feeling as a whole, look at specific cross-sections for more telling insights.

If you’re already looking at engagement by ethnicity, age, or other demographics, consider adding another data point to the mix: family status. If your employee survey tool supports custom fields, report on how parents’ scores compare to other workers’. Using software like Lattice, you can even identify outliers in specific offices or departments.

Running surveys can help you diagnose problems, identify solutions, and even grade past initiatives. Look at historical data to see whether a new perk or offering has made a difference. Employee feedback will help you pivot or fine-tune your HR programs. For more examples of how to respond to employee feedback, read our ebook on engagement survey action planning

2. Make flexibility a workplace norm.

Over the last decade, the advice has been to offer employees more, not less flexibility — whether in respect to their scheduling or physical location. But though up to 96% of workers say they want flexibility, less than half actually have it. And arguably no segment of the workforce needs it more than parents.

Raising a family doesn’t lend itself to predictable scheduling. Snow days, softball games, and surprise calls from the school nurse might require parents to stay home or sign off early. Now, school cancelations during the COVID-19 outbreak have given most companies a crash course in how important it is to offer that flexibility. If employees’ jobs can be done remotely, managers should allow them to stay home. If the nature of the job doesn’t allow for remote work, consider offering other forms of leave or flexible time off so employees can accommodate family obligations.

Offering flexibility also makes good business sense. While flexibility isn’t a “benefit” in a traditional sense like health or dental insurance are, employees consider it just as valuable. According to one survey, working parents even ranked greater flexibility over higher salaries. Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful, has seen that dynamic play out firsthand at his company.

“Employees end up saving money on transportation, childcare, and any number of other costs involved with a typical nine-to-five job. Flexibility can even convince employees to stay because they look at it as part of their benefits package. Maybe the pay isn’t higher, but the overall benefits make it worthwhile in the end,” Steiner said.

3. Offer paid parental leave.

Offering paid leave for new mothers and fathers isn’t just considered best practice, in some jurisdictions, it’s a legal requirement. States including California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island all mandate paid leave. Austin, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and 15 other major cities also have paid family leave programs.

So how much time should companies offer? While there isn’t a “magic number” that works for every organization, consider offering at least 12 weeks of paid leave to both full-time and part-time employees. Not only will this number keep you in compliance with most state and local laws, but it’ll also give employees flexibility if they need more time. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average maternity leave lasts 10 weeks. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition, consider offering even more generous benefits. Companies including Alphabet, Facebook, Square, and Zendesk offer as much as 18 weeks of paid leave.

Some companies even allow employees to return in phases. “In our office, there is a flexible arrangement of ‘gradual return’ for the employees,” said John Steeve, an HR Manager at Brandnic. Since implementing the policy four years ago, Steeve noticed a dip in turnover among new parents. “It’s given them a balance between their work and any major event in their life,” he said.

4. Make employee perks inclusive.

Come open enrollment season, HR teams spend weeks laboring over how to make their benefits and total rewards packages generous as possible. Ensuring that they’re inclusive is just as important. In addition to popular perks like gym discounts and tuition reimbursement, consider including a few that cater specifically to working parents with both younger and adolescent children.

Today, HR teams can implement a few perks that directly and indirectly support working parents, including:

  • Adoption assistance 
  • Back-to-school stipends
  • Baby cash” cash payments for parents of newborns
  • Childcare stipends
  • Entertainment discounts
  • Experiential incentives and gifts
  • Fertility benefits
  • Financial wellness programs
  • Contributions to 529 college savings plans 
  • Maternity concierge services
  • Sabbatical leave for tenured employees

In addition to offering some of the above perks, continue encouraging employees to leverage your employee assistance program (EAP). Though the vast majority of U.S. companies offer these free counseling services, just 7% of employees actually leverage them. Working parents are asked to shoulder a lot — and could probably use a reminder that the services are there and completely confidential. Spend an upcoming company all-hands reminding your workforce of the free benefit and how to use it.

While some companies go as far as to fly nannies cross-country for their employees, you don’t need lavish perks to make a difference. Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of how you position your existing programs. If part of your employee experience includes regular team offsites or happy hours, make sure they’re inclusive of parents and those with family obligations at home. That might mean starting events earlier in the day, or if appropriate (and not in the midst of a pandemic) welcoming families onsite. 

Working parents account for a major share of the U.S. workforce (and likely, your company), making it critical that HR teams keep them in mind when tracking engagement. To learn how Lattice makes it easy to filter employee survey results by demographics and other custom fields, schedule a demo.

Who knew HR and social media went hand in hand? Every day, thousands of HR professionals exchange tips and tricks, career advice, and personal stories on Twitter and LinkedIn. These discussions include some of the profession’s most colorful characters and forward thinkers.

Don’t wait to join the conversations happening among the #HRTribe. To get started, here are some inspirational HR thought leaders you should follow on social media.

Kate Bischoff
Attorney & HR Consultant,
tHRive Law & Consulting
Twitter  — LinkedIn

You wouldn’t expect HR compliance to generate buzz on Twitter. But in a space dominated by massive, multinational law firms, an authentic, independent voice comes in resoundingly clear. Kate Bischoff, who heads tHRive Law & Consulting, is an employment law attorney with an HR pedigree.

Bischoff, who is also an adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline, regularly comments on workplace issues like discrimination, harassment, wage theft, and drug testing. In addition to maintaining the tHRive blog, she frequently speaks at events including Disrupt HR and the HR Technology Conference and Exposition.

Khalilah Olokunola
VP
of HR, TRU Colors Brewing
Twitter  — LinkedIn

Khalilah Olokunola, who goes by “KO,” leads HR at TRU Colors—a brewery owned and operated by active gang members. TRU Colors’ mission is to unify rival gangs and eliminate gun violence. She was recently chosen as one of the 22 Top Conscious Business Leaders of 2019.

In addition to her work with TRU Colors, KO is a published author, speaker, and career coach. She is a passionate advocate for workplace diversity, inclusion, and second-chance hiring. 

Steve Browne
VP of HR,
LaRosa’s
TwitterLinkedIn

There are HR rockstars and then there’s Steve Browne. When the self-described “HR radical” was mentioned on the SHRM main stage last summer, his name alone garnered a roar that rivaled the headliner’s — Martha Stewart.

Browne is the VP of HR for LaRosa’s, a regional pizza chain. Beyond his day job, he sits on SHRM’s board of directors, runs the Everyday People blog, and regularly speaks at HR conferences and events. His 43,000+ Twitter followers tune in for his infectious enthusiasm and positivity. 

Steve Boese
Chair, HR Technology Conference and Exposition
Twitter — LinkedIn

There are a lot of HR podcasts out there — but none have been around longer or attracted more listeners than HR Happy Hour, the weekly podcast co-hosted by Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane. The show covers a range of workplace issues including company culture, learning and development, and HR technology. 

Boese also chairs the annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition. Each year, the conference attracts thousands of attendees and over 450 vendors, making it the world’s largest event dedicated exclusively to HR technology. 

Mary Kaylor
Manager of Public Affairs and Managing Editor, SHRM
Twitter — LinkedIn

If you can only follow one HR hashtag, make it #Nextchat. SHRM’s weekly #Nextchat discussion includes hundreds of participants and is hosted by Mary Kaylor, the association’s manager of public affairs. You can follow each week’s Twitter conversation here

In addition to running #Nextchat on Wednesdays, Kaylor manages SHRM’s massive blog and conference coverage. She is also a lead blogger for the annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition.

Kellie Wagner
Founder & CEO, Collective
TwitterLinkedIn

Kellie Wagner is the founder and chief strategist at Collective, a diversity and inclusion consultancy. You can read an in-depth profile of Wagner here.

Wagner has become a regular fixture at HR conferences and events. Some of her most popular sessions cover how teams can move beyond one-off initiatives and make inclusion part of everyday work culture. One of her most popular tips is to have the room’s loudest voices serve as notetakers. 

Sharlyn Lauby
President, ITM Group
Twitter — LinkedIn

Even if you haven’t heard Sharlyn Lauby’s name before, you’re likely familiar with her blog and alter ego: The HR Bartender. Lauby’s blog, which is consistently cited by SHRM and others as one of the industry’s best, covers a broad range of workplace issues. 

Lauby is the president of ITM Group, an HR consulting and training company, and is a popular speaker on the HR conference circuit. She’s been quoted in major publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Katelin Holloway
VP of People and Culture, Reddit
Twitter — LinkedIn

What’s it like to lead HR for the country’s third-most visited website? Ask Katelin Holloway, the VP of people and culture at Reddit — and one of the field’s most inspiring voices to boot. Prior to joining Reddit, she held roles at Pixar and Klout. 

Follow Holloway on Twitter and you’ll see what we mean. She’s a passionate advocate for workplace flexibility, paid parental leave, and building inclusive cultures. Holloway regularly speaks at conferences and events including Resources for Humans Live, where she blew us away with her keynote on belonging.  

Laurie Ruettimann
Author and Entrepreneur
TwitterLinkedIn

Laurie Ruettiman is an HR leader on a mission to fix work. After a decades-long career in the field, she now helps companies fix their HR messes through her consulting and storytelling. Ruettiman runs an HR consultancy, a blog, and a popular podcast called “Let’s Fix Work.” 

Right or wrong, HR sometimes gets a bad rap for shying away from controversy. She doesn’t. Ruettiman has become a go-to source for hot-button workplace issues, and has been featured by publications including The New York Times, NPR, and CNN. She’s spoken at SHRM, the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, Disrupt HR, and even South by Southwest. 

Trish McFarlane
CEO, H3HR Advisors
Twitter — LinkedIn

Trish McFarlane has over two decades of HR leadership experience and is the co-host of the industry’s most listened-to podcast, HR Happy Hour. She heads H3HR Advisors, an HR and HCM technology consultancy.

McFarlane runs the HR Ringleader blog and regularly contributes to a number of digital and print publications. She regularly speaks at HR conferences and her work has been cited by Business Journal, USA Today, and HR Executive Magazine.



Those are just some of HR’s most dynamic and inspiring voices on social media. Fancy yourself a budding influencer?

Resources for Humans is an online community of people leaders who believe the best way to impact a business is through its humans. Join the 5,500+ HR professionals exchanging ideas, content, and career advice in our Slack channel today.